Every pet parent should take their pet to the veterinarian once a year for a check-up. The annual vet visit is essential to maintaining your pet's overall health. It is not only an opportunity for your vet to catch any problems during an examination, but it is also when your pet will receive its vaccination boosters and undergo necessary health tests. You might be avoiding these routine visits because of the cost, but the matter is that regular maintenance of your pet's health can save you money in the long run. With regular vet visits, proper pet food is also essential to keep your pet healthy. So just how much does a vet visit cost? Let's crunch the numbers.
Standard Vet Visit Costs Include:
There are standard services and costs in every annual visit to the veterinarian, and pet parents should budget accordingly.
Office Call: The office call cost includes the appointment and the examination performed by your veterinarian. This cost can vary depending on your geographic location and the veterinarian or clinic you visit. The average price of the office call is $45-$55. If you cannot visit the vet’s clinic personally, you can also make an appointment and consult with an online vet. The charges for online consultation would be relatively less than a personal visit to a vet. With online consultations, vets can also prescribe pet meds online if required.
Vaccine Boosters: Vaccine boosters are the shots given to keep vaccines effective after the initial dose. Some vaccinations require boosters while others do not, but most pets need 2-4 boosters per year. Booster shots generally range from $18-$25.
Fecal Exam: A fecal exam is conducted to check for gastrointestinal parasites, and it generally costs $25-$45. Gastrointestinal parasites include heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, and ascarids. If the test reveals that your pet is infected, then your vet would prescribe heartworm or flea and tick medicine for your dog.
Heartworm Test: This critical test checks for heartworm disease, often fatal conditions caused by parasitic worms. The average cost of blood testing for this disease is $45-$50. However, there is nothing to worry even if the test comes positive, as there are many heartworm meds for dogs that can get rid of these parasitic worms quickly. Giving your pet timely doses of heartworm medicine can prevent severe health conditions in pets.
Extra Vet Visit Costs
Some cats and dogs may require additional services at the annual vet visit, and these can vary depending on your pet's age and medical condition.
Dental Cleaning: Many pets undergo dental cleaning during their annual check-up. Your veterinarian will usually recommend it if they see signs of gingivitis or if you mention that you have noticed bleeding during teeth brushing. The cost will vary between dogs and cats, but the procedure typically costs $70-$400. However, dental issues like tartar and plaque can be treated with dog treats like, Dentastix. While continued usage can help prevent these dental issues from occurring.
Allergy Testing: Dogs and cats suffering from allergies will often exhibit symptoms such as licking, itching, and sneezing. If you or your veterinarian suspect that your pet has developed allergies, they may order testing for the same. Allergy testing is performed with either a blood test or an intradermal skin test. The average cost of a blood test is $200-$300, and an intradermal skin test usually costs $195-$250. If the test comes out positive, your vet can prescribe allergy medicine for dogs to provide relief to your pet.
Geriatric Screening: Pets older -- usually seven years and up -- must undergo geriatric screening. This thorough exam typically includes blood work and chemistry, urinalysis, x-rays, and other tests. Geriatric screening generally costs $85-$110. However, vets usually recommend a senior dog food diet as it has all the nutrients required by older dogs.
Surgery and Other Treatments: Certain medical conditions and injuries may require surgery or other treatments. Depending on your pet's specific health issue, a bill worth a thousand dollars could be expected.
Your pet relies on you to keep them healthy, and there is no excuse for not visiting the veterinarian once a year. Also, you need to ensure that your pet eats ideally balanced food, such as Hill’s Science Diet, which includes all the important ingredients needed by your pet. However, if you find it challenging to pay for your pet's health care, you may consider purchasing pet insurance or sign-up for a pet health-care savings plan such as PetPlus.
Why Obamacare Might Raise Your Vet Bills
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, has been making headlines for all the changes it's bringing to Americans' health care access and expenses. But did you know that a tax within the Act might also affect your veterinary bills?
The Medical Device Tax
A 2.3% tax on medical devices was folded into the law to draw funds from medical device manufacturers and their buyers -- doctors and hospitals. However, plenty of medical devices designed to treat humans are also used in vet offices. For example, veterinarians often purchase ultrasound machines, laboratory equipment, and X-ray equipment for use in their practices. So as vets will have to pay more for their devices, they may pass that expense on to their clients. "We are not getting any more patients from the Affordable Care Act. So we should not be pulled into this," said Dr. Douglas Aspros, veterinarian and former president of the American Veterinary Medical Association. He adds that the 2.3% tax "may sound trivial, but if a device costs $30,000 to $40,000, it is not a trivial expense."
How Pet Parents Can Cope
Not everyone believes the tax will cause prices to skyrocket. Veterinary consultant Gary Glassman says vets should consider the extra cost over the life of the equipment. Considering an example of an $18,000 machine, "If the equipment has a five-year life, the yearly cost would be $80. If the equipment is used 100 times during the year, the incremental cost increase per procedure is 80 cents." Glassman says this could cause the procedure to go up about $1.50 per client.
So it's essential to find a vet who's looking at the long term and won't boost costs the moment they're faced with paying the tax. You can also consider a pet health benefits plan, which can give members discounts on everything from vet visits to prescriptions. Subscribe to The Wet Nose Press and get the latest pet health news and advice, recalls of faulty or dangerous products, great coupons, adorable pics, and more!