Skip to main content

Pet owners understand all too well that vet care is a necessary expense. Taking a dog or cat to the vet's office can cost a lot of money. Even a basic wellness exam that includes vaccinations and preventative medications can run between $100 and $300.

And if you live on planet Earth, you likely have noticed that costs aren't just rising at your vet's office. They're hitting consumers hard at the gas station and supermarkets as well. As prices continue to rise globally, it gets harder and harder for pet parents to save for their companions in case of emergency. When considering all these increasing prices, you have probably wondered why vet care is so expensive.

Here’s what you should know.

Why is vet care so expensive?

Did you know the cost of attending veterinarian school is about the same as medical school? Yet, a veterinarian's average salary is approximately half that of what a medical doctor makes.

In fact, many veterinarians struggle for years to earn a living while paying off their huge student loans. In addition to paying their educational debts, your veterinarian may also be paying for:

  • The cost of a facility: Vets must make monthly rent or mortgage payments for their offices, plus pay for miscellaneous services such as Internet and utilities.
     
  • Staffing: Most veterinarian offices have at least one front-office staff member, as well as licensed veterinary technicians and assistants. The average salary for a veterinary technician is $36,000 and for a receptionist, it's about $30,000. Of course, the veterinarian(s) must also be paid a salary.
     
  • Equipment and tools: It can cost a lot of money to equip a veterinarian's office with state-of-the-art instruments and equipment, including exam and surgery tables, computers, anesthesia machines, and patient cages.
     
  • Insurance: Veterinarians also have to pay for insurance to protect their businesses against lawsuits.
     
  • Outsourcing services: Vets must often outsource for testing or for expert opinions. For example, if your vet suspects your dog or cat has cancer, she or he may send tissue or blood samples to a veterinary pathologist for further review.

As more cutting-edge treatments are discovered and prices rise globally as a whole, it can drive up the cost of your vet visits - everything from standard exams to complex treatment and diagnosis will see higher price tags.

Ways you can save on your pet's medical care

Although there are many good reasons vet visits are expensive, it still doesn't lessen the pain to your wallet. Fortunately, there are ways that you can save on the costs of veterinary care, including the following:

Practice preventative care

Preventative care is a term used to describe the things you can do on a regular basis to keep your pet healthy, such as wellness exams or vaccinations. Some owners might neglect preventative care for their pets because it can cost a little extra money upfront. However, in the long run, it could save you money.

For example, if you take your dog for an annual wellness exam, your vet may be able to detect and remove an unusual growth on your pet that could be cancerous. Heartworm tablets are another example of how preventative care could potentially save you a lot of money. These tablets typically cost between $6 and $18 a month, which is a lot cheaper than the $600 to $2,500 it would cost to treat a dog with a heartworm infestation.

Learn all about what Figo's Wellness Powerup covers here.

Get pet insurance

Emergency vet visits can cost thousands of dollars. Take pancreatitis, which is a painful and potentially life-threatening condition that can strike a dog seemingly out of the blue. The average cost to treat a dog with pancreatitis is between $1,000 and $5,000. Treating a pet that has been hit by a car can cost anywhere between $250 to $8,000 or more.

One way you can take the bite out of your veterinarian's bills is to have pet insurance that covers most of the cost of emergency treatment for your dog or cat. Pet insurance can also cover most of the costs associated with treating chronic illnesses and conditions, such as allergies and diabetes.

Shop around

If the cost of your treatments, medications, or preventatives seems high, you may want to shop around for a new vet or for a lower price on your pet's medications and preventatives. You might, for example, find that you can purchase your heartworm preventatives cheaper from a pet store than from your vet. In some areas of the country, you may also be able to find low-cost vaccination clinics. Some pharmacies even offer prescription savings programs if your pet needs medications.

Budget for your pet's health care

Another way you can offset unexpected vet bills is to set aside money in your budget each month for your pet's medical needs. That way, you won't have to scramble at the last minute to come up with the necessary funds if your dog or cat should suffer a medical emergency or is diagnosed with a chronic disease.


Lizz Caputo is a Content Strategist at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.

Protect your pet from the unexpected with Figo Pet Insurance, rated “Best Pet Insurance” by Reviews.com since 2017.

Most aspects of raising a pet come...

Are you unhappy with your pet insurance...

When we head to the vet, usually we are...

Advertisement for pet insurance.

More From Figo Blog

We recently had the opportunity to interview...

There are many tools I utilize when training...

Congratulations, you’re a proud new pet...

At Figo, we talk a lot about how great...

One of the best things about owning a dog is...

Whether you’re rocking out to your favorite...

Since 2017, Americans have spent between $17...

On any given day, between 50 and 70 million...