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 important health tests. You might be avoiding these routine visits because of the cost, but the fact of the matter is that regular maintenance of your pet’s health can save you money in the long run. 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 built-in to 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, that you visit. The average cost of the office call is $45-$55.
Vaccine Boosters: Vaccine boosters are the shots that are given to keep vaccines effective after the initial dose. Some vaccinations require boosters while others do not, but most pets end up needing 2-4 boosters per year. Booster shots generally range between $18-$25.
Fecal Exam: A fecal exam is conducted to check for gastrointestinal parasites, and it generally costs $25-$45.
Heartworm Test: This important test checks for heartworm disease, which is an often fatal condition caused by parasitic worms. The average cost of blood testing for this disease is $45-$50.
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.
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, testing may be ordered. 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.
Geriatric Screening: Pets who are older -- usually 7 years and up -- must undergo geriatric screening. This thorough exam typically includes blood work and chemistry, urinalysis, x-rays, and another testing. Geriatric screening generally costs $85-$110.
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 north of 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. If you are finding it difficult to pay for your pet’s health care, you may want to consider purchasing
pet insurance or signing 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 health care access and expenses for Americans. 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 in order to draw funds from medical device manufacturers and their buyers -- doctors and hospitals. However, plenty of medical devices designed to treat humans are, in fact, used in vet offices as well; ultrasound machines, laboratory equipment, and X-ray equipment are often purchased by veterinarians for use in their practices. 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, and 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."
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How Pet Parents Can Cope
Not everyone believes the tax will cause prices to skyrocket. Veterinary consultant Gary Glassman says the extra cost should be considered 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." Which could cause the procedure to go up about $1.50 per client, Glassman says. So it's important 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 on pet health news and advice, recalls of faulty or dangerous products, great coupons, adorable pics, and more!