10 States With the Heftiest Vet Bills — and Tips for Cutting Costs

10 States With the Heftiest Vet Bills — and Tips for Cutting Costs Ivonne Wierink/Shutterstock.com

We hear a lot about the rising cost of doctor visits and health insurance these days. But what about the price tag for veterinary care?

Just last week, I rushed my 12-year-old black lab to the vet because he had what appeared to be an open wound on his backside. A quick veterinary examination revealed that my pup’s anal gland had ruptured, which my vet explained was a common — albeit disgusting — issue with canines.

The vet cleaned him up and sent us home with a bottle of antibiotics, some pain pills and a $120 bill.


According to new data from Petplan pet insurance company, the amount pet owners pay for vet treatment varies by state. Petplan veterinary manager Elyse Cannon says in a statement:

“Most pet parents will probably be surprised to learn that the average bill for unexpected care can range from nearly $800 to $1,500, but the reality is that every six seconds a pet parent is handed a bill for more than $3,000!”

According to claims submitted in 2016 by policyholders to Petplan, these 10 states average the most fur-raising costs for unexpected veterinary care:

  1. California: $1,521.18
  2. District of Columbia: $1,515.97
  3. Hawaii: $1,480.41
  4. Louisiana: $1,472.36
  5. New Mexico: $1,459.52
  6. Colorado: $1,434.46
  7. Maine: $1,417.52
  8. Maryland: $1,417.34
  9. Delaware: $1,414.29
  10. Pennsylvania: $1,402.31

On the flip side, the pet insurer says North Dakota has the lowest average veterinary costs for dogs and cats, with the typical pet owner dishing out an average of $769.56 on vet care annually in that state.

How to get cheap veterinary care

There are ways you can keep your pets healthy without going broke. For example, keep your eyes peeled for low-cost alternatives to going to the vet. In “9 Ways to Get Cheap or Free Vet Care for Your Pet,” Angela Colley writes:

Local animal welfare organizations, rescue groups and shelters often offer low-cost vaccinations, spaying and neutering, and other routine care.

To find animal shelters and pet rescue groups in your area, check out Petfinder.com‘s list. The ASPCA has a list of low-cost spay/neuter programs that can help.

Colley also recommends shopping around for a vet or perhaps checking out a veterinary school for discounted care.

So, pet owners, how much do you typically spend on vet care for your four-legged friends? Sound off below or on our Facebook page.

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