How Much Is an Emergency Vet Visit? 10 Ways to Pay

Veterinary team cares for Injured cat

Paying for veterinary emergency services is a top concern of pet parents, and understandably so. While the cost of an emergency vet visit initially runs between $150 to $250, that bill can easily reach into the thousands of dollars depending on the procedures and tests required.1 While you don’t want to deny your beloved family member the care they need and deserve, you may also have valid concerns about potentially staggering costs.  

If you want to feel more financially prepared, there are options to consider. Read on to learn more about funding alternatives like non-profit grants, dedicated savings accounts, crowdsourcing, and the CareCredit credit card, which helps you pay over time with budget-friendly monthly payments.*

Learn More About CareCredit

Common Reasons for Emergency Vet Visits

Common reasons for emergency vet visits for dogs and cats include:

  • Severe vomiting or diarrhea, especially if it’s black or bloody or accompanied by abdominal pain
  • Getting hit by a car, falling from an extreme height, or other forms of trauma
  • Seizures and convulsions
  • Labored breathing, gasping, or choking
  • Swallowing a foreign object
  • Unconsciousness, fainting, or severe lethargy
  • Severe allergic reactions to bee stings or insect bites
  • Ingesting toxic foods, plants, or household items
  • Chemical or heat burns
  • Heat stroke

Please see our comprehensive list of signs your pet may need immediate veterinary care. If you’re unsure, always check with your veterinarian.

How Much Is an Emergency Vet Visit for a Dog or Cat?

You can typically expect to pay more for emergency vet care than for regular veterinary visits. The higher cost of veterinary emergency services is due to the increased number of diagnostic tests and treatments often required. Senior pets are more likely to experience chronic health issues—like diabetes, heart disease, or cancer—so they generally require more emergency care.

The average cost of a pet ER visit is $150-$250, and it can increase depending on your pet’s condition.1  We did some digging on costs you might incur from a veterinary emergency visit. They can vary based on factors like the animal’s size (cats are usually cheaper to treat than dogs), where the clinic is located, and the complexity of diagnosing and treating the condition.

How much is an emergency vet visit for cats and dogs? Here are some estimates.2,3

  • Initial examination: $150-$250
  • Blood tests: $80-$200
  • X-rays: $100-$350
  • Pain medication: $40-$80

Emergency Vet Costs for Dogs

  • Wound treatment: $800-$2,500
  • Emergency surgery: $1,500-$5,000
  • Hospitalization: $600-$3,500 (a stay of 1-5 days)
  • Foreign object removal: $3,500

Emergency Vet Costs for Cats

  • Wound treatment: $800-$1,500
  • Emergency surgery: $1,500-$3,000
  • Hospitalization: $600-$3,000 (a stay of 1-5 days)
  • Foreign object removal: $3,400

Emergency Vet Cost: 10 Ways to Pay

Veterinary team puts plastic collar on dog at hospital

As overwhelming as emergency vet visit costs may seem, rest assured that you have options.

Start with Great Preventive Care

The best way to avoid the cost of an emergency vet visit is to adhere to a solid preventive care regimen. This should incorporate a complete and balanced diet, adequate exercise, and an environment free of potentially toxic plants, foods, and household items. Keeping regular veterinary visits is also essential. Ask your veterinary practice or insurance company if they offer a pet wellness plan (PWP) to help fund preventive care.

Check Your Pet Insurance Policy

Some pet insurance companies cover as much as 90 percent of the cost of an emergency veterinary visit.1 “As a veterinarian, I cannot emphasize how important it is to get pet insurance as soon as possible when adding a new pet to your household,” says Dr. Anna Kaufman, an associate veterinarian with BondVet, a veterinary hospital network that also provides urgent care services. Pet insurance policies usually have exclusions, such as not covering pre-existing conditions, so check before signing on.  

Apply for a Pet Care Credit Card 

CareCredit is a dedicated health and pet care credit card you can use to pay for emergency vet visit costs.* “When dealing with a pet emergency, the last thing you want to do is stress about money,” Dr. Kaufman says. “What I have found is that CareCredit may help make the difference in allowing care to take place for a pet family member.”

Learn More About CareCredit

CareCredit offers flexible financing options and is accepted at over 25,000 veterinary hospital locations. You can apply in minutes and get an instant credit decision. If approved, you can start using your card right away. 

Ask Hospital Staff About Payment Plans 

Though you likely won’t be subjected to high interest rates with in-house payment plans, there’s a caveat: “It is well within your right to ask, but many hospitals do not offer payment plans,” Dr. Kaufman says. A veterinary practice that has had trouble with loan repayments in the past may be reluctant to offer a payment plan.

Check with Your Local Veterinary College

Some veterinary teaching hospitals maintain clinics for low-income clients. The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, for example, offers limited urgent care services through their Tufts at Tech program. Inquire with your local accredited veterinary college about similar programs.

Set up a Pet Savings Account

Some credit unions and banks offer a dedicated savings account to help you save for your pet’s medical expenses. They may even offer perks like discounts on pet insurance and the ability to earn higher interest rates. “I like this idea a lot, but at the end of the day, I do think pet insurance is important to invest in,” Dr. Kaufman says.

Set up a Traditional Savings Account

If your financial institution doesn’t offer a pet savings account, consider opening a traditional high-yield savings account to earn interest. A certificate of deposit (CD) typically offers higher interest rates, though it usually carries a penalty for early withdrawal.

Apply for a Charitable Grant  

There are several options here. Some veterinary practices maintain their own non-profits or partner with independent non-profits to help clients experiencing financial hardship. Local animal shelters are a wealth of information and may even offer their own grants. And several non-profits provide grants. These include:

  • RedRover 
  • Humans Enriching Animal Lives (HEALS)
  • Frankie’s Friends
  • Face For Pets

Use a Crowdfunding Platform to Raise Funds

Do you have family members, friends, or other contacts who may be willing to help? A crowdsourcing platform like Waggle or CoFund My Pet can help you raise funds. “Pet emergencies are stressful and often those around you want to help but don’t know how,” Dr. Kaufman says. “Starting a page like this allows people to donate in a way that is tangible.”

Ask Your Friends and Family for a Loan

If you’re not comfortable asking people you know for money, consider setting up a loan arrangement. The advantage is that people in your circle will be less likely to charge high (if any) interest rates and will be more lenient with repayment terms. 

In Conclusion

Having to worry about emergency vet visit costs in addition to your pet’s health is a stressful life event. While avoiding this scenario (by providing great preventive care and purchasing pet insurance, for example) is optimal, things don’t always work out as planned. If you do find yourself in a pinch, there are alternative ways to pay. 

Veterinary hospitals and local animal shelters are often wellsprings of information, making them great places to start. Non-profit organizations exist that help pet parents experiencing financial hardship, and some veterinary teaching colleges sponsor low-cost clinics that provide limited urgent care services. Another solid option is the CareCredit credit card*, which many veterinarians recommend for its flexibility, reliability, and convenience. 

With a myriad of options available, you never have to deny your pet from receiving life-saving veterinary emergency services. 

References:

  1. Racine, E. (2022, December). “Emergency Vet Visit Costs and Financing Options.” Well U – CareCredit. Retrieved from https://www.carecredit.com/well-u/pet-care/emergency-vet-visit-cost-and-veterinary-financing
  2. “How Much Does a Vet Visit Cost?” CareCredit. https://www.carecredit.com/vetmed/costs/
  3. Elswick, M. “How to Handle a Pet Emergency.” GreatPetCare. July 2023. Retrieved from

*Subject to credit approval. See carecredit.com for details.

This information is shared solely for your convenience. Neither Synchrony nor any of its affiliates, including CareCredit, make any representations or warranties regarding the products described, and no endorsement is implied. You are urged to consult with your individual veterinarian with respect to any professional advice presented.

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