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How much is a vet visit for a dog without insurance?

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The cost of your dog's vet bills could be considerably lower if you have the right pet insurance policy. Getty Images

According to the US. Census Bureau, 49 million households own dogs, or roughly 38% of the nation's 128.5 million occupied housing units. Of course, we love our pets, so much so that 97% of all pet owners consider their pets part of the family, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.

While our love for our dogs is limitless, unfortunately, our budgets are not. Many dog owners don't always have the financial means to pay for veterinary expenses. Veterinary costs can range from $410 for annual routine medical costs and preventative medication to $5,000 or more to treat more serious injuries. Keep in mind, the Federal Reserve reports roughly a third of all Americans could not afford an emergency of $400 or more with cash.

Not surprisingly, many Americans are turning to pet insurance to help offset some or all of these costs. Pet insurance is similar to human health insurance in that it covers a portion of your pet's veterinary costs. Get prepared with a free quote and find a plan that fits your budget

Here's how much you might expect to pay for veterinary expenses with and without pet insurance.

Compare your top pet insurance policy options online today.

How much is a vet visit for a dog without insurance?

The average cost for a routine vet visit for a dog ranges from $50 to $250, according to CareCredit. Additionally, a heartworm test can cost between $35 and $504. Flea and tick prevention costs around $25 per month, and heartworm prevention is roughly $10 monthly.

While routine expenses are typically more manageable, it's the unpredictable injuries and illnesses that catapult veterinary costs. Here's a brief sampling of potential costs for treatments according to data from Preventive Vet, a site operated by veterinarians and other veterinary professionals:

  • ER exam: $100 to $200
  • Ultrasound: $300 to $600
  • Wound treatment and repair: $800 to $2,500
  • Dog bite wounds: $1,000 to $10,000+
  • One to two days hospitalization: $600 to 1,700
  • Three to five days hospitalization: $1,500 to $3,500
  • Toxin ingestion: $250 to $6,000
  • Urinary tract obstruction: $1,500 to $3,000+

As these figures show, veterinary expenses can be expensive and hit you when you least expect it. For example, an active dog could tear a cruciate ligament jumping or turning awkwardly while playing. If you don't have emergency savings to cover your dog's healthcare or emergency costs, pet insurance may be worth considering. Get a free, personalized quote in minutes.

How much is a vet visit for a dog with insurance?

Depending on your policy, you'll generally pay between 70% and 90% of your dog's covered veterinary expenses. In most cases, you'll pay the veterinarian for their services upfront and receive a reimbursement from your pet insurer — minus the deductible — to help offset the total cost.

According to USA Today, dog insurance costs an average of $45 monthly for accident-only coverage up to a $5,000 annual coverage limit. A slight increase to an average of $55 monthly could be worth it for an accident and illness policy with unlimited coverage. If you file a claim, you'll have to pay a deductible, which can range from $0 to $2,500, but most policyholders choose a $250 deductible.

Using these figures, let's say your dog must receive treatment for a urinary tract obstruction at $2,250. With an accident-only policy and an 80% reimbursement rate, you'd save $1,800 (80% of $2,250). After factoring in the $250 deductible, your total costs would be $700. In this scenario, veterinary treatment for your dog without insurance would be $2,250, but with insurance, your total cost is $700, representing a $1,550 savings.

Bear in mind that you would pay more out-of-pocket if the veterinary bill exceeded the policy's $5,000 annual coverage limit. Given the high cost of emergency treatment, the unlimited coverage option may be worth the moderately higher monthly cost.

"With the costs of emergency care skyrocketing, a lot of owners are paying for policies that essentially leave them underinsured when they need it most," says Dr. Rebecca Greenstein, a veterinary medical advisor for Rover. "I would recommend at least 5,000 to $10,000 of coverage per category. If a broken leg costs $4,000 to $6,000 to repair these days, having a maximum of $3,000 of coverage leaves pet parents with a significant out-of-pocket balance."

Find out what the right pet insurance policy would cost today.

How do you get inexpensive pet insurance for a dog?

Here are a couple of practical ways to bring down the cost of pet insurance for your furry family member:

  • Customize your policy options: When you sign up for pet insurance, you can usually adjust your policy's reimbursement rate, annual coverage limit and deductible to suit your needs and budget. "In many cases, you can lower the cost by raising your deductible or playing around with the amount of coverage," says Janice Costa, the founder and owner of Canine Camp Getaway.
  • Look for discounts: Many pet insurers offer discounts, such as multi-pet discounts, usually for 5% or 10%, for insuring more than one pet. Similarly, military veterans are often eligible for premium discounts. "Some insurance companies will also provide a discount if your dog is a therapy dog, or if you bundle your pet insurance with other types of insurance that the company might offer," says Costa.

Get a customized price quote now and get started or use the table below to review some top pet insurance providers.

The bottom line

Remember, most pet insurance companies don't cover pre-existing conditions. So if your dog is already struggling with a health issue, it may not be covered. Remember, most pet insurance companies don't cover pre-existing conditions. So if your dog is already struggling with a health issue, it may not be covered. That's why it's important to get your dog covered early in life if possible when they don't have health issues. It's also critical to read the fine print and ask questions to make sure you understand what the policy does and doesn't cover and what you're responsible for paying.

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