Why Is the Vet Bill So Expensive?

Office visits, diagnostics and treatments all cost money! The only way we are able to stay in business and help animals is by paying our bills, paying our staff, purchasing and maintaining medical equipment, and keeping our inventory stocked. We cannot do this without charging for our services.

Human health insurance has led many people to believe that visits to the doctor only cost $20.00. THIS IS NOT TRUE! A trip to the human doctor costs about 4x more than the same trip to the vet’s office despite the fact that your doctor and your veterinarian are doing the same exact thing.

I have two young children who see their pediatrician regularly for exams and vaccine boosters. The following are actual real life charges from my daughter’s most recent doctor visit compared to what the same service costs at our veterinary practice.

  • Routine Physical Exam:
    • My Pediatrician: $247.00
    • Our Veterinary Office: $68.00
  • Routine Immunization (Vaccine):
    • My Pediatrician: $189.00 – $252.00 each
    • Our Veterinary Office: $29.00 – $35.00 each

I think the other thing that clients often forget (or don’t realize) is that the charges you see on your invoice at the end of the appointment go towards keeping the entire hospital up and running. This includes the cost for the building and utilities, purchasing and maintaining equipment for diagnostics and surgeries, keeping inventory stocked, and paying the salaries of all of our staff (veterinarians, technicians and front desk). The amount you spend on your animal does not go straight to the veterinarian, but allows us to continue to practice high quality medicine.

It is your responsibility as a pet owner to anticipate and plan for the cost of preventative care for your animal; this includes (at a minimum) an annual exam, annual heartworm and intestinal parasite screening, vaccine boosters, a monthly heartworm preventative and a monthly flea/tick preventative. Exactly how much all of this costs will depend on your pet’s age and weight, but the following should give you a rough sense of what to expect.

  • Estimated Yearly Wellness Cost for an Adult Dog: $400.00 – $700.00 (add an additional $140.00 for annual screening blood work in senior patients)
    • Annual Exam: $68.00
    • Annual Fecal Analysis (screens for intestinal parasites): $30.00
    • Annual 4DX Blood Test (screens for heartworm and tick-borne disease): $60.00
    • Vaccinations: $90.00 – $150.00, depending on how many are due that year
    • Year Supply of Heartworm Prevention: $100.00 – $200.00, depending on the brand chosen and size of your dog
    • Year Supply of Flea/Tick Prevention: $60.00 – $200.00, depending on the brand chosen and size of your dog
  • Estimated Yearly Wellness Cost for an Adult Cat: $160.00 – $460.00 (add an additional $140.00 for annual screening blood work in senior patients)
    • Annual Exam: $68.00
    • Annual Fecal Analysis (screens for intestinal parasites): $30.00
    • Vaccinations: $60.00 – $90.00, depending on how many are due that year
    • Year Supply of Heartworm Prevention (outdoor cats): $80.00
    • Year Supply of Flea/Tick Prevention (outdoor cats): $60.00 – $180.00, depending on the brand chosen

Breaking this down, if you budget for the most expensive options listed above you could save $70.00 per month for a dog, $50.00 per month for an outdoor cat, and $30.00 per month for an indoor cat, to cover the yearly cost of wellness care.

Dr. Melissa Bisesi


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