America is spending even more on healthcare ... for Mr. Tabby

April 19, 2011 at 7:54 AM ET

Reuters /

Upon adopting a dog a few years ago, a rather churlish acquaintance of ours said, “Well, that’s great. But you should set an amount that you will pay in vet bills for that dog and never go above it. You can go broke keeping them alive.”

Aside from the considerable joy we take in no longer speaking to that person, the dog has proven to be a joy despite some vet bills. And according to a pet supply industry trade group, it seems more people than ever have no problem with paying when the puppy or kitten needs to go to the doc.

The American Pet Products Association reports pet owners are expected to spend $12.2 billion on vet care this year – and that’s up from $11 billion last year.

Some facts from the association:

  • Bird owners’ trips to the vet in 2010 were flat from the previous year or two, but they were spending a lot more on surgeries – $190, up from $55.
  • The number of times cat owners took their precious to the vet was up at 2.4 visits. The cost of an average surgery in 2010 was $423, up from $278 in 2008.
  • The number of annual dog vet visits stayed essentially flat at 2.7 in 2010. The number of average visits was 2.8 in 2010.

How much do you spend on care for your pet? Have you ever had to pay a particularly large bill?