Pet Emergency Statistics and Veterinary Costs

"Accidents happen" - it's true, but they don't always have to. We're sharing the statistics and rough cost ranges of some of the more common pet emergencies below because, for many (most) pet owners, costs are a very large factor in the amount and type of care their pets are able to receive.

It is our hope that the realities of these costs will help even just one person realize the value in striving to prevent pet illnesses, injuries, and other emergencies. Prevention isn't always possible, but it often is - and it's often as simple as having prior awareness and taking simple precautions. The goal of Preventive Vet is to help you with both, so have a look here and then browse around the rest of the site to find articles and other resources that can help you keep your pets healthy, happy, and safe.

Pet Emergency Statistics

Vomiting and diarrhea

Nationwide, vomiting and diarrhea are routinely amongst the most common reasons that pets are brought to the veterinarian for emergency evaluation. These are in fact just the outward signs of any number of potential underlying problems – including irritation or obstruction of a pet's intestinal tract, ingestion of a poisonous substance, dysfunction of one or more internal organs, and a variety of others. Many of the most common causes of vomiting and diarrhea in pets can be easily prevented. 

Hit by car

There are no official statistics kept on the subject, but based on the frequency with which they are seen in emergency rooms across the country, it is safe to assume that there are tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of cats and dogs injured or killed in road traffic accidents each year in this country. Equally as important are the accidents that unleashed dogs and outdoor cats cause each year, many of which result in significant injury or even death to people.

Life expectancy of cats

Several sources estimate that the life expectancy of an outdoor cat is only 4-5 years. By contrast, the life expectancy of an indoor-only cat is nearer 12-18 years. Amongst other things, cats that go outdoors unobserved are at greater risk of eating or licking up something poisonous (e.g. antifreeze, lilies, rat and mouse poisons, and others), they're at greater risk of getting into a fight with a dog, wildlife, or another cat, and they're at risk of being hit by a car. 

Antifreeze toxicity

The Humane Society of the U.S. estimates that up to 10,000 cats and dogs die each year from exposure to ethylene glycol containing antifreeze. One lick of this highly poisonous substance can be enough to cause irreversible kidney failure and death in a cat, and it doesn't take much more than that to have the same effect in a dog.

Pet toxicities

The ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center, the pioneers in pet poison control, received over 140,000 calls related to pet exposures to toxic substances in 2009 and more than 167,000 such calls in 2010. Many of these calls were related to common household products that are likely present in your pet's environment right now.

In 2009 the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center handled:

  • 45,816 calls involving prescription and over-the-counter drugs such as painkillers, cold medications, antidepressants and dietary supplements
  • 29,020 calls related to insecticides
  • 17,453 calls pertaining to people food
  • 7,858 calls related to ingestion of common house and garden plants
  • 7,680 for veterinary medications
  • 6,639 related to rodenticides
  • 4,143 for household cleaners
  • 3,304 related to heavy metals (lead, zinc, and mercury)
  • 2,329 for fertilizer and other garden products
  • 2,175 for household and automotive chemicals

Pet Emergency Veterinary Costs

Appropriate treatment for many of the common emergencies can prove very expensive. Prices obviously vary depending on the severity of the emergency, the veterinary hospital you visit, the part of the country you live in, and a few other factors, but below are approximate costs you might expect for some of the common initial evaluation, stabilization, and treatments at many Animal ERs.

ER exam ~ $75 - $125
IV catheter
~ $60 - $75
IV fluids ~ $50 - $75
Blood tests (basic) ~ $75 - $150
Urine tests (basic)   ~ $25 - $50
X-rays (basic)      ~ $75 - $250
Blood pressure measurement        ~ $25 - $75
Pain medication    ~ $40 - $80
Hospitalization / Vet Tech Monitoring    ~ $50 - $200
TOTAL ~ $475 - $1,080


Accidents & Emergencies Happen

Pet accidents and other emergencies are common when their people are out of town. So whenever traveling without your pets, always make sure to leave them in the care and close supervision of a responsible person or company. And always be sure to fill out and leave behind a Treatment Authorization Form, so your pets can get the medical care they need in the event of an unforeseen problem when you can't be reached. When filling in the section of the form with the amount that you authorize the pet sitter or care-giver to approve in your absence, please take into account the rough minimal costs of some of the typical emergency evaluations and procedures as listed above, as well as the following common emergencies.

Approximate emergency veterinary treatment ranges:  

Vomiting, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal:   

food bloat
intestinal obstruction with surgery
stomach 'bloat' (GDV)

$500 - $1,000+
$750 - $3,000+ 
$2,000 - $4,000+

$1,000 - $5,000+

$3,000 - $8,000+

Toxin ingestion:  

grapes or raisins
human antidepressant medications
human pain medications
rat poison
slug bait

$2,000 - $6,000+
$250 - $2,000+
$2,000 - $5,000+
$1,500 - $2,500+
$250 - $2,000+
$1,000 - $4,000+
$750 - $4,000+
$1,500 - $4,000+
$750 - $4,000+

cat bite abscess
dog bite wounds
electrical cord shock
heat stroke
high-rise fall

$250 -$1,500+
$1,000 - $10,000+
$500 - $3,000+
$1,500 - $6,000+
$500 - $6,000+
$250 - $8,000+

Urinary Issues:  
urinary tract obstruction

 $1,000 - $3,000+

Uterus & Birthing Issues:  
birthing difficulties (Caesarean section)
uterine infection (pyometra)
$1,500 - $3,500+
$2,500 - $5,000+