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How much does pet surgery cost?

Some pet surgery costs can exceed $20,000, but they don’t need to if you plan ahead and find the right pet insurance.

Common pet surgery costsLearn more
Get covered for your pet's surgeryCompare pet insurance

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Want cover for surgery? Pet insurance has your back

There are many reasons a pet might need surgery. Procedures can range from basic ones, such as neutering, to more complex and expensive ones, such as foreign object removal, cancer surgery and more. The costs of these can vary widely depending on the animal, the vet and the situation. For example, if your dog needs surgery to remove a swallowed object, the cost might range from a few hundred dollars to a staggering $20,000+. This is where pet insurance can save you lots.

Name Product Accidental Injury Illness Paralysis Tick Benefit Maximum yearly benefit Reimbursement rate Reimbursement Rate
Medibank Ultimate Pet Care
$1,200
$15,000
80%
80%
Get 16% off your first year. Sign up and use promo code SAVE16 by 14 Sep 2022. T&Cs apply.
Budget Direct Pet Insurance
$1,500
$12,000
80%
80%
Apply online and get 15% off your first year’s premium. T&Cs apply.
PIA Major Medical Cover
$1,200
$15,145
80%
80%
Covers specified accidents and illnesses, with Routine Care Cover included. Get 2 months free when you sign up.
PD Deluxe Plan
$15,000
$15,000
100%
100%
Apply online and get your first 1 month free. T&Cs apply.
Vets Choice Elite Cover
$2,500
$15,000
80% or 100%
80% or 100%
Get a 5% discount when you insure more than one pet.
Woolworths Comprehensive Cover
$2,000
$24,000
80%
80%
Woolies top policy comes with a $24,000 annual limit — higher than the majority of providers — plus cover for accidents, illnesses and routine care. Pay the gap and claim on the spot with GapOnly. Pricebeat is available for similar policies. T&C's apply.
Kogan Pet Luxury Cover
$2,000
$15,000
80% up to age 8 & 65% over age 8
80% up to age 8 & 65% over age 8
Sign up and get your first month FREE plus $10 ongoing monthly credit. T&Cs apply.
Australian Seniors Top Accident & Illness Cover
$1,200
$12,000
80%
80%
Extra benefits such as overseas cover for your pet, plus an optional routine care add-on.
Guardian Platinum Accident & Illness Cover
$1,200
$12,000
80%
80%
Lifetime cover for cats and dogs, up to 80% covered.
RSPCA Ultimate Plus Accident and Illness Cover
$20,000
$20,000
80%
80%
Comprehensive cover for your pet, including the option of routine care. Get 1 month free for the first year of new policies. T&C's apply.
Real Premium Accident & Illness Cover
$1,200
$12,000
80%
80%
Claim up to a maximum of $12k per year, with no excess to pay.
Coles Premium Cover
$2,500
$15,000
80% or 100%
80% or 100%
Earn 10x Flybuys points per $1 spent on pet food at Coles Supermarkets. T&Cs apply.
Petsy Custom Cover
$10,000 or $25,000
$0
80% or 90%
80% or 90%
Enjoy 5% off your first year of pet insurance.
PetsOnMe Deluxe Plan
$15,000
$15,000
100%
100%
Get 2 months free if your pet is between 6-52 weeks old, or 1 month free if your pet is over 1 year old. T&Cs apply.
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Cost of common pet surgeries

These figures are sourced from Petsure insurance claims data between June 2018 and July 2019. It's a tricky area to confirm figures for, given how much costs can vary. This was the latest data we could find as of August 2021.

Average claim amount, 2019FYHighest claim amount
Cancer$3,503$34,183
Gastro intestinal$1,319$21,633
Snake bite$2,133$20,147
Pneumonia$1,610$7,316
Arthritis$688$12,460
Diabetes$1,952$16,712
Ear infection$883$14,271
Tick paralysis$1,156$5,293
Multiple fractures$2,066$13,902
Cataracts$1,755$14,916
Dermatitis$832$24,354
Urinary Tract Infection$814$12,223

Common treatments covered

We researched 11 providers to help you easily compare providers that offer the following common pet treatments: cancer, gastro intestinal, tick paralysis, fractures and cataracts. For a full list of treatments, click Get Quote to head to the provider's site and check the PDS.

Name Product Cancer Gastro intestinal Tick paralysis Fractures Cataracts
Medibank Ultimate Pet Care
Get 16% off your first year. Sign up and use promo code SAVE16 by 14 Sep 2022. T&Cs apply.
Budget Direct Pet Insurance
Apply online and get 15% off your first year’s premium. T&Cs apply.
PIA Major Medical Cover
Covers specified accidents and illnesses, with Routine Care Cover included. Get 2 months free when you sign up.
PD Deluxe Plan
Apply online and get your first 1 month free. T&Cs apply.
Vets Choice Elite Cover
Get a 5% discount when you insure more than one pet.
Woolworths Comprehensive Cover
Woolies top policy comes with a $24,000 annual limit — higher than the majority of providers — plus cover for accidents, illnesses and routine care. Pay the gap and claim on the spot with GapOnly. Pricebeat is available for similar policies. T&C's apply.
Kogan Pet Luxury Cover
Sign up and get your first month FREE plus $10 ongoing monthly credit. T&Cs apply.
Australian Seniors Top Accident & Illness Cover
Extra benefits such as overseas cover for your pet, plus an optional routine care add-on.
Guardian Platinum Accident & Illness Cover
Lifetime cover for cats and dogs, up to 80% covered.
Real Premium Accident & Illness Cover
Claim up to a maximum of $12k per year, with no excess to pay.
RSPCA Ultimate Plus Accident and Illness Cover
Comprehensive cover for your pet, including the option of routine care. Get 1 month free for the first year of new policies. T&C's apply.
Petsy Top Cover
Enjoy 5% off your first year of pet insurance.
Coles Premium Cover
Earn 10x Flybuys points per $1 spent on pet food at Coles Supermarkets. T&Cs apply.
PetsOnMe Deluxe Plan
Get 2 months free if your pet is between 6-52 weeks old, or 1 month free if your pet is over 1 year old. T&Cs apply.
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What factors affect the cost of pet surgery?

Pet surgery costs vary depending on the clinic you go to, the breed of your pet and the type of injury that's occurred. As a result, it's not possible to give you an exact price, but we help you work out whether you're likely to pay less or more, depending on the following:

🌡️ The nature of the condition. The same operation might be done in under an hour or might take several hours depending on the situation. Similarly, it might require more specialised equipment or a different type of anaesthesia. All of these can significantly affect the cost.

🏥 The veterinary practice. Veterinarians are generally free to charge what they want, so prices can vary based on where you live and the vet you go to.

🐶🐱 Whether you have a dog or a cat. Dogs are typically more expensive than cats.

🧬 The breed of your pet. Different breeds can medically be very different. For example, different breeds of dog will need different kinds of anaesthesia before surgery, some of which are more expensive than others.

⚖️ How large your pet is. Surgery is generally more expensive for bigger pets, although it can vary depending on the condition being treated.

Can pet insurance lower pet surgery costs?

✅ Yes. Pet insurance usually reimburses a portion of vet bills – most commonly around 80%, up to a specified annual limit.

So for example, say a vet charges $2,000 for cruciate ligament surgery. A pet insurance policy with an 80% reimbursement rate will pay you $1,600, leaving you with $400 left to pay. If you want to avoid out-of-pocket expenses, there are a few policies that cover 100% of surgery costs (provided the costs don't exceed the annual limit), such as Vets Choice Elite Cover, Petsy Dog Accidental Injury and Illness Cover (Vet Select) and Pet Insurance from Coles.

In most cases, you'll find that they also have an annual limit for specific treatments. This can be as high as $25,000 or as low as $2,000, so how much you pay for pet surgery can differ greatly depending on the policy you pick.

Compare annual limits and reimbursement rates

Does it matter which vet I go to?

Getting value for your money from pet insurance is dependent on the types of claims you think you’ll be making. If you have a comprehensive policy, more expensive claims can give you more value for your money.

There are no set general service fees for veterinarians, so you might get very different prices from different vets.

We've researched the most commonly required pet surgeries and how much they generally cost to help you work out whether pet insurance is worth it.

As such, it’s worth considering the typical costs of different procedures, so you can think about pet insurance cover in real dollars.

Why are vet bills so expensive?

Surgery is complicated and involves a lot of steps before, during and after the process. All of these are part of the cost along with the equipment and expertise that’s being used. Depending on the procedure, your vet bill may include the following costs:

  • Diagnosis and examinations
  • Preoperative tests
  • Anaesthesia
  • Theatre fees
  • Surgical fees
  • Disposable surgical items
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Prosthetic items
  • Follow-up checks
  • Follow-up drug prescriptions
  • Pet kennel costs at the vet’s if your pet needs to remain overnight for health reasons

Find comprehensive pet insurance now

At Finder, we make it easy for you to find a pet insurance policy and help with the high cost of cat or dog surgery.

🔍 Use our quick comparison tool to filter through the best policy for your needs.

Some policies can cover you for as much as $25,000 a year and all include surgery. Each policy is tailored to the breed and age of your pet, so compare features first then click through for a personalised quote.


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    8 Responses

    1. Default Gravatar
      LizSeptember 22, 2021

      The range of prices for cataract surgery that you include in the table above is very wide ie from $1800 to $14,000. Is there a guide for how to find a vet at the lower end?

      • Avatarfinder Customer Care
        JamesSeptember 28, 2021Staff

        Hi,

        Unfortunately, veterinarians are pretty much free to charge what they want for their services. That’s why you’ll often see wide differences in pricing for cataracts and other types of treatments. Generally, you could lower the cost of your overall bills by choosing an insurer with higher annual cover limits. With that in mind, you could look at our guide to comprehensive pet insurance.

        I hope this helps.

        Regards,
        James

    2. Default Gravatar
      LindaFebruary 7, 2020

      can you please give me an estimate for a Labrador to have a culture and susceptibility biopsy of her right hind foot

      • Default Gravatar
        NikkiFebruary 7, 2020

        Hi Linda,

        Thanks for reaching out to us and I hope you are well. Sorry to hear about your Labrador’s condition. Upon checking the prices on our table above, it doesn’t show any estimated costs for a culture and susceptibility biopsy of her right hindfoot. As this is a very special case, the best way to get a quote on this is by reaching out to a vet surgeon and one that your trust can help your dog.

        Hope this helps and feel free to reach out to us again for further assistance.

        Best,
        Nikki

    3. Default Gravatar
      CathJanuary 17, 2019

      About how much should I expect it to cost for my French bulldog to get his soft palate shortened and nostrils larger?

      • Avatarfinder Customer Care
        JeniJanuary 22, 2019Staff

        Hi Cath,

        Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

        Currently we don’t have the estimate cost of any Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) related surgeries such as trimming elongated soft palate and stenotic nares correction. It is best to contact your chosen vet on cost of the said surgery.

        I hope this helps.

        Thank you and have a wonderful day!

        Cheers,
        Jeni

    4. Default Gravatar
      RoxyNovember 9, 2017

      Can u give me an idea as to how much an ultrasound for a small dog would cost. Checking prostate, kidneys, bladder lining.. Thankyou.

      • Avatarfinder Customer Care
        JudithNovember 10, 2017Staff

        Hi Roxy,

        Thanks for contacting finder, a comparison website and general information service. I hope you are having a great day.

        Depending on the situation and the equipment, the cost could be from $50 to $500. -It could also depend on what the vet is looking for and where you go.

        Diagnostic ultrasounds can be a lot more difficult and might require a vet to collaborate with radiologists, cardiologists or other specialists.

        I hope this helps.

        Best regards,
        Judith

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