The Many Reasons Why Your Vet Bills Are Rising

Having a pet is getting increasingly expensive.
Have a pet? Prepare to pony up some serious cash.
Have a pet? Prepare to pony up some serious cash. / Alina555/E+/Getty Images

For many pet owners, there’s nothing they wouldn’t do for their furry family members. Unfortunately, it seems that vets have been catching onto that, too. 

You’re not alone in experiencing the sinking feeling that comes with looking at your latest (and heftiest) veterinary bills. The issue has been sweeping across the United States. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor data on urban consumers, veterinary costs have risen nearly 8 percent in this past year alone—this is more than double the average increase of every other listed consumer expense. 

But why is this spike appearing, and why so suddenly? There are a few possible explanations.

Why are vet bills so expensive?

Inflation plays a role, of course, but there’s another major reason behind the spike in high vet costs: clinics going corporate. Many vet practices and hospitals that were previously independently owned and operated have been bought out by corporate investors looking to monetize animal health. If your local vet clinic seems to have changed its pricing in the past few years, it may be because they’re now owned by a much larger—and less community-oriented—operation.

The corporations aren’t always the ones you’d assume they would be, either. While you wouldn’t think that your pooch’s X-rays would profiting the same folks producing Snickers bars, the Mars Corporation actually operates more than 2000 vet clinics throughout America. 

How much are vet bills?

Large corporations are buying up vet practices, but not necessarily because they’re animal lovers. Pet owners are willing to fork over a pretty penny if their animal’s life is on the line. According to a 2023 survey by ValuePenguin, consumers spend an average of $1507 each year on pet-related medical costs. That same survey also found that 76 percent of pet owners would be open to taking on debt if it meant it would save the life of their animal. 

Though it’s a bit harsh to view the issue in this light, it seems that businesses will continue to raise prices as long as consumers are willing to pay them. 

Pet medical costs aren’t the only rising costs, either. Over the next decade, the average national health spending (for humans) is expected to grow steadily by 5.4 percent each year. It seems that both you and Fido are in for some fairly large bills in the coming years.

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