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5 Surprising Vet Bills Every Pet Owner Should Know
●August 18, 2021●7 minute read
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Owning a pet is a rewarding experience, but it also isn’t cheap. Whether you’ve got a dog, a cat, or anything in between, there may come a time when you’re faced with expensive veterinary bills.
While most owners understand their animals will experience a health issue at some point, they normally don’t prepare for the monetary costs. Our guide to common and expensive vet bills that many owners face will make sure you’re informed when it comes time to consider your own pet’s needs.
Unfortunately for many pets, cancer is one of the leading causes of death. Just like for humans, more and more options are becoming available for animals who are diagnosed with cancer, and we’ve seen a rise in the number of animal oncology units popping up around the country.
Like humans, dogs and cats can suffer from bone cancers, tumors, and lymphoma, with a diagnosis not always made in time. This is mostly due to the high costs surrounding vet check-ups and procedures, with many pet owners struggling to cover additional costs when they arise.
Luckily, medical science has improved dramatically over the past few decades for animal treatment. Pets (most commonly dogs and cats) are able to undergo oncology treatment and chemotherapy specific to their stage and type of cancer, without having to immediately resort to amputations and other extreme measures like they did in the past.
However, these cancer treatments do come at a cost. According to the ABC, treatment costs for dogs suffering from cancer can be anywhere from $3,000 to $13,000. In the 2019 financial year, Finder.com shows the average claim for cancer-related vet bills was over $3,500.
A common reason for visiting the vet is for gastrointestinal issues. Whether your pup has eaten your favourite pair of socks, or your cat has been off its food for days on end, these are things that need to be checked up on. Common gastrointestinal issues for household pets include:
- Vomiting: Frequent or repetitive vomiting throughout a period of time can indicate gastritis, liver failure, heat stroke, and a range of other health conditions.
- Diarrhea: Like vomiting, frequent diarrhea that doesn’t run its course within a few days could indicate a more serious condition.
- Inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS): Like humans who suffer from IBS, dogs also have their fair share of stomach problems. IBD affects many dog breeds, including Weimaraners, Yorkshire Terriers, and German Shepherds. This condition can be managed with a healthy diet and medication, but a vet visit is necessary for diagnosis.
- Worms: Worms can be one of the most common digestive issues pets face. Because it can be hard to pick up on signs of worms, you should keep an eye out for a dull coat or a significant lack of energy from your pooch.
- Chocolate toxicity: Although chocolate is loved by many, it should be kept out of reach from your furry friends. The alkaloid Theobromine found in chocolate is extremely toxic for cats and dogs, and if too much is consumed, it can be fatal. No matter how much is ingested, you should get your pet seen by a vet as soon as possible. Reactions include vomiting, increased thirst, and excessive urination, but these usually only show up hours after ingestion – and will sometimes be too late to act.
Luckily, most of these conditions are easily treatable if found early enough. This does come with a hefty price tag, though. Finder.com indicates the average claim amount for gastrointestinal problems to be around the $1,300 mark.
Accidents, injuries, and bites
While traumatic for both the animal and owner, it’s a reality for many pets to injure themselves or be bitten by something at some point in their lifetime.
Many pets are professional escapees when it comes to being confined inside. Unfortunately, this also means many find themselves running out into busy roads and ending up hit by a car.
Whether your pet sustains a bruising or broken bone, a trip to the emergency room is necessary to rule out internal damage. While lucky to have survived, they might not be out of the woods just yet. These trips to the emergency room can cost thousands of dollars upfront, depending on your insurance situation.
Snake and tick bites
Thanks to our array of venomous backyard buddies, snake and tick bites are scarily common for household pets.
In 2016, more than 6,500 Aussie pets sustained snake bites, with many unfortunately losing their battle. What might shock owners, though, is the price tag on snake antivenom.
A single treatment can cost anywhere between $600 – $1,000 at your local veterinary due to the high demand for the treatment. According to Finder.com, the average claim for snake bites is over the $2,000 mark.
In terms of ticks, Aussie pets are always running into trouble. According to the RSPCA, over 10,000 Aussie cats and dogs are taken for tick treatment each year. Thanks to our climate, many pets will pick up a tick at some point in their lifetime. While ticks are easily treatable, it’s important to catch them early on before more serious complications (like paralysis) occur. Treatment for tick paralysis, including ventilator support, can easily cost over $1,000.
One of the scariest encounters for a pet owner is for your pet to be attacked by another animal. This is common amongst dogs during walks or in dog parks, and cats who are allowed outside.
If a dog becomes territorial or scared, it can quickly turn on another dog and be vicious towards anyone who tries to intervene. While your pet might not be bleeding or appear injured, it’s important to take them to the vets immediately.
Many times a dog is bitten, it might not look serious but the internal damage could be life threatening, and lead to a bone infection. Internal scans can cost upwards of $500, and if stitches are needed, the cost of general anesthesia will top $1,000.
Bone and joint problems
Just like humans, our pets can experience bone, ligament, and joint problems too. Some of the most common problems include:
- Arthritis: Just like humans, dogs and cats can develop arthritis. While it’s thought of as a condition for older animals, young pets can develop arthritis from traumatic injury or poor joint conformation. This condition can be regulated by maintaining regular, moderate exercise and giving your pet joint supplements, but this is a costly path to take. Arthritis injections (targeting affected areas) can cost up to $200 per shot, with regular medication following suit.
- Metabolic disorders: Osteochondrosis and panosteitis are common typically amongst large breeds within their first year of life. These conditions are extremely painful and require urgent medical attention. Pain management can take the form of anti-inflammatories, medication, or even intravenous fluid therapy, all of which come at a huge cost.
- Fractures: Depending on the severity of a fracture, rest will likely be essential for your pet – and so might surgery and medication. For most surgeries, your pet will need to go under general anesthesia, which can cost over $1,000 itself (not including surgery bills or treatment costs).
- Hip replacement surgery: While specific, hip replacement surgery is very common amongst older animals. For cats and dogs, QLD Vet Specialists indicate a fixed cost of over $8,000 for an uncomplicated surgery. These costs will then rise significantly if the animal needs further care or experiences any difficulties from the surgery.
Dental hygiene is as important for household pets as it is for humans. Regular maintenance is required to ensure your pet has healthy gums and teeth, to prevent oral complications down the path.
Regular teeth cleaning (dental scale and polish) for your dog can cost between $1,000 – $500, and roughly $350 for a cat.
While it’s costly, it’s important to keep your pet’s oral hygiene at it’s best to avoid future problems like gum disease, tooth loss, and erosion.
Seeing how high costs can be for the simplest of procedures, pet insurance might seem like a given. Depending on your provider, policy, and excess terms (and whether the condition that you’re claiming is covered), pet insurance could let you claim back somewhere in the realm of 65-85% back.
But, pet insurance isn’t for everyone. You should consider your personal situation and whether you can afford regular payments before committing to pet insurance.
Read our articles on whether pet insurance is worth the money and the general costs of owning a pet to understand more about your options.
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Written by Katie Francis
Katie Francis is a Content Writer at Jacaranda Finance. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Business (Marketing)/Media & Communications at the Queensland University of Technology.