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How much does pet surgery cost?

Unless you have pet insurance, you could be left with negotiating costs or using payment plans to cover surgery.

Updated

Pet surgery can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the type of surgery and the severity of your pet’s condition. While you might be able to negotiate payment with your vet, pet insurance can help you shoulder this cost if it’s purchased ahead of time. However, pet insurance probably won’t cover the bill if your pet needs surgery now.

Cost of common pet surgeries

These example costs can help you know what you might pay out of pocket for different pet surgeries:

ConditionExample costs
Spay or neuter$100 to $300
Dental extractions$285
Dewclaw removal$125 to $325 per claw
Cancer tumor removal$500 to $1,000 for minor surgery, more for additional cancer treatment
Cataracts removal$1,500 to $3,000 or $5,000 for laser eye surgery
Glaucoma surgery and medicationUp to $6,000
Cruciate ligament repairCan be $5,500
Hernia repair$250 to $1,000
Hip dysplasiaUp to $8,000
Foreign body ingestion$900 to $3,000
Gastropexy — preventiveAround $400
Gastropexy — health condition$1,200 to $5,000
Fractures or broken bonesCan be $3,700

Compare pet insurance with coverage for surgery

Name Product Pets covered Seniors accepted Hereditary conditions Chronic illness
Petplan
Dogs, Cats
Cover unexpected vet bills from emergency exams, injuries, surgery and more.
Embrace
Dogs, Cats
Enjoy extra benefits with coverage for exam fees, curable conditions and wellness visit reimbursement.
Trupanion
Trupanion
Dogs, Cats
A Trupanion medical insurance policy has the ability to save you thousands and keep your best friend by your side
Pet Assure
Dogs, Cats, Horses
Save up to 25% on all vet bills including wellness and dental visits for as little as $10/month.
PetFirst
Dogs, Cats
Get coverage starting at $9 per month for cats and $15 for dogs. Talk to an agent at 888-738-0683.
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Compare up to 4 providers

What costs of surgery does pet insurance cover?

Your pet insurance may cover costs related to surgery like:

  • Initial exam fee
  • Diagnostic blood tests and X-rays
  • Intravenous fluids
  • Sedation and other medications
  • Anesthesia
  • Veterinary surgeon fee
  • Disposable surgical items
  • Sutures and suture removal
  • Inpatient care
  • Physical therapy
  • Aftercare prescription diet

Pet insurance reimburses a portion of vet bills based on the coinsurance you choose, such as 80% or 90%. It also includes a specified annual limit like $10,000 or $15,000. While a single claim won’t normally push you over the limit, that possibility increases when your pet needs surgery. If a major surgery does go past your limit, you’ll need to shoulder the rest of the bill out of pocket.

Case study: Charlie needs surgery for chronic bloating.

Charlie needs emergency surgery after experiencing bloating, costing $4,000. Since Charlie’s owner Julia bought pet insurance with a $500 deductible, 80% reimbursement and $10,000 annual limit.

After Julia paid the $500 deductible, pet insurance paid the remaining $2,800. Since Julia’s annual premium costs $480, she saved $3,020 when factoring in all of Julia’s out-of-pocket expenses.

What’s the best pet insurance for surgery?

If you’re ensuring that you have thorough pet surgery coverage, you’ll need to weigh the risks and costs you might pay out of pocket.

  • Consider your premiums. Pet insurance can cost anywhere from $10 a month for birds or other small pets or $40 for dogs. You can weigh that cost against your pet’s potential for needing surgery. For example, gastropexy to prevent bloat can be common in dogs and may warrant coverage.
  • Go for a higher reimbursement rate. Because surgery costs can get expensive, you’ll find a significant difference between 80% and 90% coverage.
  • Avoid low annual limits. Some pet policies come with low annual limits like $5,000. Major surgeries may surpass that amount, leaving you with difficult financial decisions.
  • Understand exclusions. While most policies offer thorough coverage for different surgeries, a few include important exclusions. Exclusions include the waiting period and rules for pre-existing conditions. If your pet needs surgery now, a new policy likely won’t cover it because it’s considered a pre-existing condition.
  • Figure out how you’re reimbursed. Most companies reimburse you after you pay for expenses with your own money, but a few can work with vets directly. Consider whether you can shoulder the cost upfront while you wait to get reimbursed.
  • Get the right type of policy. Realize that accident-only policies may cover surgeries related to an accident like your pet breaking a bone. However, a policy covering accident and illness coverage may offer the most assurance.

How can I save on pet surgery?

You can try to make the cost more affordable for your budget in a few ways:

  1. Negotiate the total cost with your vet. See if your vet can offer a discount for paying out of pocket or staying loyal to their business.
  2. Ask your vet about payment plans. Your vet may work with you to pay for the surgery on a monthly basis until the bill is paid.
  3. Tell your vet your financial situation. Your vet might forgo certain expenses or find low-cost alternatives to make the surgery more affordable for you.
  4. Get an estimate from a low-cost vet clinic. Some vets or animal shelters offer low-cost services to help pets get the surgery they need.

Bottom line

Needing coverage for pet surgery can be a toss-up since your pet may not suffer an accident or illness requiring surgery. You’ll need to weigh your options with different pet insurance companies so that your pet’s most likely risks are protected.

Frequently asked questions about pet surgery costs

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