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How Much Will the Most Common Pet
Health Issues Cost You?
How Much Will the Most Common Pet
Health Issues Cost You?
April 08, 2024 / Beatrice M
How Much Will the Most Common Pet
Health Issues Cost You?
April 08, 2024 / Beatrice M

How Much Will the Most Common Pet Health Issues Cost You?

Every year, more US households are owning pets, and costs for medicinal treatment and vet fees are increasing annually.

As a pet owner, taking care of your pet’s overall wellbeing is a priority, and that includes knowing what common health issues they may encounter and how much it will cost.

With the increasing charges, the frequency of vet visits has been declining through the years.

In the United States, data shows that there are 69 million households with at least 1 dog and 45.4 million with at least 1 cat. Despite the growing population of pets, there’s a noticeably large decline in vet visits according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). From 130.4 million times in 2011, veterinary visits reduced to 123.3 million times in 2016.

Another change that has accompanied this decline is the increase in average spending per vet visit. According to AVMA, the costs surged from $138 to $161 in 2016, while in 2024, regular vet visits and pet care alone costs around $1,391 for dogs and $1,149 for cats, according to Forbes .

Data from the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA) shows that in 2016 there was an increase in vet visits due to owners taking out pet health insurance. Figures show a notable increase in vet expenditure of 29% for dog owners and 81% for cat owners.

This demonstrates the value and security of having an insurance policy for your pets. If you haven’t got one yet, you can check pet insurance reviews and compare policies to find the right plan for you and your pet.

If you’re concerned about budgeting and affording vet costs for your pet, we have prepared a list of the most common pet health issues in dogs and cats, and how much treatment would cost you without pet insurance.

Diarrhea and Intestinal Upset

Your pet’s upset stomach may have various causes. More often than not, it includes the following:

  • Ingestion of spoiled food, garbage, or poison
  • Ingestion of foreign objects
  • Change in diet
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Gas build-up and bloating
  • Constipation
  • Antibiotics

If your pet’s stomach issues persist, a more complex list of possible causes that require an immediate visit to the vet and may have higher costs include:

  • Inflammation
  • Parasites
  • Salmonella
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Distemper or parvovirus
  • Intestinal cancer

In general, it will cost you around $200 to $385 to treat your pet’s upset stomach or diarrhea, depending on the diagnosis.


As your pets age, the risk of arthritis increases. Arthritis is usually due to a pet’s body conformation, weight, past injury, or dysplasia.

Symptoms of arthritis include:

  • Irritability and shift in behavior
  • Limping
  • Trembling
  • Reluctance to move around
  • Tiredness
  • Sore joints

An overweight pet with arthritis will usually be given prescription food. Anti-inflammatory drugs are also given to arthritic pets to alleviate any pain.

Diagnosing if your pet has arthritis includes an x-ray, a physical examination, or imaging technology. It can cost you around $720 for dogs and $490 for cats.

Broken Bones

Pets can be extremely active, especially when they are young. If you have a cat who loves to jump from one table to another or a dog who likes running around, accidents can happen, and broken bones can be a risk.

Older dogs and cats are also very prone to fractures due to the growing brittleness of their bones. If you suspect that your pet has broken bones, check if they are showing the following signs:

  • Limping
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Reluctance to use an injured limb

The average cost to treat your pet’s broken bone is $2,300 for dogs and $2,200 for cats, depending on the severity of the damage.

Foreign objects in the stomach

The number of internet memes depicting owners trying to work out if their pet has swallowed something is enough proof of how often this happens.

One moment you are sitting comfortably and the next thing you know, you’re chasing after a missing sock. However, if you didn’t see your pet swallowing a foreign object, here are a few signs that may indicate this has occurred:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty with defecation

If your pet is showing one or more of these symptoms, visit your vet and have your pet assessed. The process of confirming if there is a foreign object in your pet’s stomach often includes an X-ray and blood and urine tests.

Overall, removing a foreign object from your pet’s stomach can cost you approximately $3,200 for dogs and $3,000 for cats.


According to the MSD Veterinary Manual, dogs have a higher frequency of developing cancer than humans, while conversely, cats are affected less than humans. Indeed, AVMA states that half of dogs aged 10 and above will suffer from cancer.

The prevalence of cancer in older dogs illustrates the importance of having pet insurance that has coverage for chemotherapy, which typically costs around $4,000 for dogs and cats alike without insurance.

Tests to confirm cancer in your pets include:

  • X-ray ($75-$150)
  • Blood tests ($75-$150)
  • Ultrasound ($300-$500)
  • Cytology ($35)
  • Biopsy ($70)

Fleas and Ticks

Fleas can lay up to 50 eggs on your pet’s body per day. These parasites suck on the blood of your pet, and can be found crawling all over your house and even on your clothes and body.

They flourish in humid environments, meaning that flea and tick infestations happen most commonly during the summer season and in tropical areas.

The best way to get rid of fleas and ticks is to make sure that your infected pet is treated to prevent further infestation.

Here are signs that your pet is suffering from fleas and ticks:

  • Droppings on fur
  • Flea eggs
  • Itchiness
  • Skin irritation
  • Hair loss
  • Scabs

Your vet will prescribe medication and teach you how to properly to remove these parasites from your pet. The usual cost of preventing fleas and ticks is around $40 to $200.

Cases of fleas and ticks aren’t uncommon and can be easily treated at home. If you take out pet insurance, you may be provided with access to a 24/7 vet helpline and experts can assist you in treating your pet with easily-acquirable tools while staying in the comfort of your own home.


Diabetes affects 1 in 500 dogs while it affects 1 in 200 cats. According to AVMA, dogs usually get diabetes between the ages of 4-10 years old and cats aged 6 years and older.

AVMA also notes that obesity is a significant factor in the development of diabetes. Consequently, diabetic pets are often given prescription food to eat to keep their insulin steady.

Signs of diabetes are:

  • Weight loss
  • Decreased appetite
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Skin infection
  • Urinary infection

Blood tests and urine tests are conducted to confirm if your pet is diabetic. Treating diabetes can cost around $2,900 for dogs and $1,600 for cats.


Transmittable through mosquito bites, heartworm disease can infect your pet even at home. Mosquito bites carry larvae that go on to live in the blood vessels of your cat or dog, growing into adult parasitic worms which can penetrate the heart and lungs.

A heartworm’s lifespan is 3-5 years in an animal’s body. It is usually seen in dogs aged 3-8 years old. While cats are less susceptible to heartworms, they too can acquire the disease.

Symptoms of heartworm include bleeding in the nose and difficulty breathing, which indicate signs of lung damage.

Treating your pet’s heartworm disease can cost you up to $1,000 depending on how soon it is discovered. Because some pets don’t show symptoms of heartworm disease, prevention assistance and regular check-ups are vital for making sure that your pets aren’t housing infectious parasites.

Diseases cannot always be prevented, but higher costs can be

In the US, 95% of owners consider their furry buddies a member of their family, while 90% of millennials regard their pet’s health as equal to their own. These strikingly high numbers show how much value pet owners place on their pet’s health and wellbeing.

The responsibility of taking care of pets comes with dealing with pet health issues, treatment, and medication, all of which increase annually due to rising costs and your pet’s age.

With the average vet bill for the first year you have your pet mounting up to $1,270 for dogs and $1,070 for cats , more owners have been turning to affordable pet insurance providers to put their minds at ease during vet visits, and to benefit from lifetime coverages, reimbursements, and deductibles.

Our Top 3 Pet Insurance Services

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  • Multi-pet and bundle discounts
  • Fast claims processing
  • Easy-to-use mobile app and website
  • Unclaimed premiums donated to charity
  • Not available in every state
  • Alternative therapies not covered
In addition to providing renters, homeowners and car insurance, Lemonade now allows you to protect yourself from costly vet bills with its pet health insurance. Its basic plan covers your pet against accidents and illnesses, and you can purchase additional coverage for preventative care as well as add-ons for physical therapy, vet visit fees, dental illness, and end of life and remembrance. Their 5% multi-pet discount, 10% bundle discount, and annual pay-in-full discount really are great ways to decrease your premiums.
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  • No limits on specific conditions
  • No upper age limit for pets
  • Extended customer support hours
  • Some pre-existing conditions are covered
  • Long wait time for claims
  • Customer service wait time can be long
Spot offers highly flexible pet insurance coverage where you choose the upper limit, deductible, and reimbursement percentage. Reimbursement can be as high as 90%, deductibles as low as $100/year, and coverage maximums range from $2500 to unlimited. There are no upper limits on specific illnesses or conditions, just one overall annual limit. If you want flexible coverage where you are in control, look no further than Spot pet insurance.
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  • 10% multi-pet discount
  • 5% discount for military personnel
  • 24/7 access to veterinary professionals
  • Additional wellness plan available
  • Dogs and cats only
  • 6 month wait period for orthopedic coverage
With attractive multi-pet discounts and reduced deductibles for healthy pets, Embrace Pet Insurance could be an excellent choice if you’re looking for dog or cat insurance at an affordable price. As well as providing 24/7 access to veterinary experts, it allows you to submit claims and manage your account through its full-service mobile app. Furthermore, the company offers additional wellness plan for your pet’s routine and preventative medical needs.


Having the best dog or cat insurance is a practical and modern approach to making the most of your money while still prioritizing your pet’s health and well-being.

Annually, the average cost of insurance is $585.40 for dogs and $349.23 for cats for coverage that includes illness and accidents. At a glance, it may appear expensive, but without insurance, medical costs do add up.

According to Northeast Veterinary Referral Hospital, Pennsylvania, hip replacement surgeries for pets with hip dysplasia can cost around $3,500 to $7,000 per hip. With an insurance plan that reimburses 70% to 100%, the cost of a $7,000 hip surgery won’t be carried by pet owners alone.

From canine tests that can cost $129 for toxicology to surgical visits that average at $426 for dogs and $214 for cats annually, having a pet insurance plan of $35 per month for dogs and $28 per month for cats can provide you with $5,000 annual coverage maximum.

Lifetime pet insurance plans can give you around $2000 to $10,000 yearly coverage in vet fees. So, if your pet requires a treatment and its cost can be covered within your annual pet insurance budget, you won’t have to pay a lot of money out of pocket.

A few policy providers also offer coverage for pre-existing conditions, such as respiratory infections and gastrointestinal disorders among other curable conditions. Though terms and limitations may differ with various providers, having the option to have vet-fee coverage for these conditions within your policy is a benefit that shouldn’t be missed.

Ultimately, pet insurance can give you peace of mind by making vet fees affordable and allowing you to care for your beloved pets.

By Beatrice M
Beatrice is a seasoned personal and business finance writer. Beatrice completed a triple major in Commerce, Finance and Insurance from Christ University with a CIMA (UK) accountant certification, where she won multiple awards at both national and global levels. After this, she worked at Goldman Sachs as an Executive Office Analyst. She is also a seasoned marketer and current Head of Content & Operations for MediaBerry, a digital PR firm trusted by HubSpot, SemRush, Cloudtalk and more.
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