5 startling stats about vet costs

The results of an AP-Petside poll circulating yesterday found that the average American vet bill tops $500 annually – and much of the coverage seemed to suggest that $505 for a year of vet visits and treatment is a lot of money.

Don't get me wrong; in this economy especially, five Benjamins is a lot of money. But I can't be the only one wondering how these other American pet-owners got away so cheaply; I have two senior pets, each of whom has a senior-wellness check-up twice a year, plus the dental issues and the fancy restricted-diet food and the blah blah blah. (The third cat helps keep costs down by refusing to let me catch her and put her in a carrier. Thanks, Mabel!) Often, I'm lucky to escape with five hundred per visit. Per year…let's just say one of the ancient cats should think about getting a paper route.

The AP-P poll also found that, while the majority of pet owners paid less than the average (around $300 for the year), one in six human companions reported treating their pets for a serious illness in the last year, which bumped that average up significantly – and those owners, like me, spent more than $1000 for vet care annually ($1092, to be exact).

What kinds of serious illnesses, and how much more than a grand? Petside put together a list of the most expensive medical procedures for pets from last year; foreign objects in the stomach and intestines can cost from $1500-2000; a ruptured bile duct will run you more than $2200; and treating intervertebral disc disease is a whopping $3282. Treating these issues in cats may prove marginally less expensive, but according to MSN Money's investigation of vet costs from last year, treating feline fibrosarcoma (skin cancer) could still cost almost $800.

The price of extended or life-saving treatment can feel even steeper if you're not working, and the AP-P poll reflected that the economy is an issue; many of the owners who haven't taken their pets for check-ups at all in the last year noted that finances were a stumbling block. Household income played a role in whether pets went to the vet, with 90 percent of owners with a household income above $50,000 a year taking their pets to the vet, versus 74 percent of owners with a household income of less than 50K a year. (But under the national economic circumstances, three quarters is a pretty good percentage.)

Dog owners were more likely to take their four-legged friends to the vet: 85% of dog owners, versus 79% of cat owners. Are dog people more conscientious? Or are dogs just easier to catch? I'm guessing it's the latter.

What's the most you've ever paid to fix up a furry friend? If Benji needs an operation and you're out of work, what would you do? Is any price too high to take care of your pet? Let us know in the comments.

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