How Pet Insurance Saves Money on Pet Care Costs

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Contributor, Benzinga
February 7, 2022

Pets can be expensive. From routine preventative care to unexpected veterinary visits, it’s easy to spend $1,000 or more in a year on a dog or cat. 

Fortunately, there are several ways to save on pet care costs. Pet insurance is one of the top things you can do to help keep your pet’s bills manageable. Learn more now with Benzinga’s guide.

Common Pet Care Costs

When you’re considering getting a pet, it’s a good idea to research the average costs to own one. Pet costs can vary based on your pet’s age and size, but this is an example of average pet care costs.

  • Dog food: $250 to 750 per year
  • Cat food: $100 to $200 per year
  • Annual vet exam fee for wellness visit: $50 to $100
  • Annual vaccinations: $10 to $100
  • Cat litter: $200 to $250
  • Spay or neuter: $20 to $300
  • Teeth cleaning for dog or cat: $50 to $300
  • Heartworm test: $45 to $50
  • Flea and tick preventatives: $40 to $200 per year
  • Heartworm preventatives: $60 to $180 per year

Those are just the basic costs. If your pet needs to be treated for an accident or illness, there are additional costs to take into consideration. These are some common reasons for veterinary visits, and how much treatment might cost:

  • Diarrhea or other intestinal upset: $200 to $400
  • Ear infection: $40 to $150
  • Arthritis: $500 to $800
  • Dental disease: $500 to $800

How Often Should Your Pet Go to the Vet?

Dogs and cats need regular checkups to make sure they remain healthy. Some pet parents might wonder why they should bring their pet to the vet if they seem healthy. The truth is that pets can hide their pain well, and they often won’t start showing symptoms until a condition has gotten more severe. 

At a minimum, pets should go to the vet at least once per year. Sure, it costs money for this yearly exam, but it can help you catch conditions early and treat them. This can help your pet be more comfortable and can help you save money in the long run.

Though all pets should go to the vet at least once per year, some pets will need to go to the vet more frequently. The frequency depends on your pet’s medical history and age.

Puppies and kittens need to visit the vet quite often in their first few months. This is because they need to get a series of vaccinations to help prevent them from catching a serious disease. Kittens will also need to get tested for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus. 

These first few visits for your pet’s vaccines will also help you and your pet get acquainted with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will talk to you about heartworm and flea and tick preventatives and make sure that your pet has everything they need to stay healthy. 

They will also discuss spay or neuter services for your pet and let you know when you should bring your pet back in for their surgery. These initial wellness visits help the veterinarian understand the baseline for your pet, which is helpful if you have to bring your pet in for sick visits in the future. 

After your pet turns one year old, they will need to go to the vet for annual visits. At these visits, your veterinarian will give your pet a physical exam to make sure they aren’t showing any signs of illness. 

You’ll have the opportunity to bring up any concerns or questions that you might have with your veterinarian at the annual appointment. If you have a dog, your veterinarian will perform a blood test to check for heartworms and tick-borne diseases. Your dog may also need to have other tests done if your veterinarian has a concern about something that they found in the physical exam. 

Many veterinarians will also recommend that you bring in a fecal sample from your cat or dog to check for parasites. In addition to all of this, your veterinarian can administer the necessary vaccinations at your pet’s visit. 

When your pet becomes a senior, they may need to go to the vet more than once per year. For most breeds of dogs and cats, they’ll be considered a senior somewhere between the ages of 7 and 10 years old. For larger breeds with shorter lifespans, they may be considered a senior at a younger age. 

Most veterinarians recommend that senior pets come in twice per year for wellness exams. In addition to the standard tests and vaccinations, your veterinarian may recommend a complete blood panel for your pet. This can be used to monitor your pet’s kidney levels, liver health and more. Blood panels are especially important if your pet is on regular medication that can impact their organs. 

If your pet has a medical condition that needs to be monitored, your veterinarian may recommend that your pet comes in more frequently, even if they’re not a senior. These more frequent visits can allow your vet to monitor the progress of the medical condition and their prescribed treatment. 

In addition to wellness visits, there are times you may need to bring your pet to the vet for unexpected reasons. It’s important to monitor pets for any changes in their behavior throughout their entire lifetime. If your normally energetic dog is no longer excited to go for walks, it could be a sign of arthritis or another condition that is causing them pain. 

Behavioral changes can also be a sign of a medical issue. One of the most common behavioral changes seen in cats is a change in litter box habits. Cats who are completely litter trained may start going to the bathroom on rugs or other inappropriate locations if they are in pain. Your veterinarian can run tests on your cat to see if there is an underlying medical cause for the behavioral change, such as a urinary tract infection. 

If the vet is able to rule out a medical cause, they may be able to make other suggestions to help you manage the issue. In dogs, sudden aggression can be a sign of an underlying medical cause. It’s important to visit the veterinarian if you notice any changes in your pet’s normal behavior so you can either address the underlying medical condition or rule out a medical condition.

Pet Insurance Alternatives

If you don’t want pet insurance but you want to have some financial assistance for your pet’s medical costs, there are some alternatives to consider.

Wellness coverage: Pet insurance does not cover routine vet costs, such as annual wellness visits and vaccinations. To get coverage for these routine costs, you can purchase a wellness coverage plan. Wellness coverage can be purchased as a standalone product, or as an add-on to some pet insurance policies.

Preventative care programs: Some veterinarian offices offer their own version of wellness coverage. These are often sold as memberships with a monthly fee and include preventative care coverage for your pet. The plans usually include one or two wellness visits per year, vaccinations, teeth cleaning, grooming and other routine services. 

Emergency funds: Some pet parents prefer to set money aside in an emergency fund instead of paying for a pet insurance policy. You can designate a bank account as your emergency funds for pet expenses. You can also purchase emergency fund accounts specifically for unexpected vet bills at a monthly fee.

Compare Pet Insurance

Curious about pet insurance? Then you’ve come to the right place! Benzinga has researched all of the best pet insurance companies to help you choose the right company and policy for your pet.

Save Now with Pet Insurance

Pets can be expensive, but the joy that they bring to our lives makes it all worth it. The right pet insurance policy can help you save money on your pet care costs now. 

Frequently Asked Questions


How much should I budget for pet care?


The amount that you should budget for pet care depends on several factors. If you’re getting a brand new puppy or kitten, for example, you’ll need to budget for their initial vaccine series and spay or neuter surgery. According to ASPCA, the average initial cost for a dog is $1,030 and $455 for a cat. Following that cost, ASPCA says that the average annual cost for a pet is $1,391 for a dog and $1,149 for a cat. If you have pet insurance or a pet wellness plan, you should budget in enough to pay your monthly premiums for those policies. You should also have a separate budget for your pet’s food, toys, treats and any other necessities.


What is the average cost of pet treatment?


The average cost for one annual wellness visit for pets is between $50 to $100. This does not include vaccinations or other preventative treatments or tests that your veterinarian might recommend.

About Ashley Hart

Ashley Hart is a personal finance writer passionate about helping people feel empowered to take control of their finances. She has more than eight years of writing experience, focused on insurance.