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5 common health issues for your dog (and what they could cost you)

Here are 5 common health issues for dogs and what they could cost you to treat.

Your canine companion is probably one of your best friends. You hurt when they hurt, and they cuddle up close when you’re feeling down.

Being proactive about your dog’s health is one of the best ways to ensure they can continue to stay happy and healthy as you grow older together. But just like your own health bills, ensuring your dog’s health can be expensive.

Americans spend over $16 billion per year on veterinary care for their pets.

The first-year cost of owning a dog can cost around $500 to $600, with medical bills for spaying/neutering, a collar and leash, a dog crate, medical exam and training.

After that, you may be paying around $500 a year to keep up with annual shots, food, license fees, toys, and more.

Beyond the health costs, you can plan for, there’s always the risk of unexpected medical costs that come along with owning a pet.

Issues like joint injuries, dental disease or more serious critical illnesses can come with high out-of-pocket costs — especially without pet insurance.

Below are 5 common health issues for dogs, their causes and what it could cost to treat them.

Joint injury

All dog breeds can develop joint problems as they age. But joint injuries are even more common in certain breeds like Rottweilers, Cocker Spaniels and Retrievers.

Symptoms of a joint injury can include limping or swelling of the injured area. These types of injuries can happen from a dog’s day to day activities, jumping on and off furniture, playing fetch, or chasing squirrels.

If your dog is overweight, this can put them at extra risk of joint injuries. That extra weight puts more stress on your dog’s hips and knee ligaments.

Cost: $1500-$3500

Treatment options and costs depend on the type of joint injury. Your dog may need medication (steroids or an anti-inflammatory drug), surgery or physical rehabilitation.

Intestinal/stomach issues

Most dog owners know this problem — your dog sniffs out a sock and decides it’s a good idea to swallow it whole. 

Dogs are great at swallowing objects that they shouldn’t. Breeds particularly apt to this behavior include beagles, retrievers, terriers and pit bulls.

This habit can potentially lead to expensive surgery to extract the object to keep your dog from suffering a more serious injury. 

If your dog is being particularly lethargic, acting abnormally, not eating, or vomiting, they might’ve swallowed something they shouldn’t have.

If your dog doesn’t pass the object naturally, plan for a trip to the vet.

Cost: $500-$2500 

The cost of surgery varies depending on the type object and where it is in your dog’s digestive tract.


As with humans, it’s hard to know exactly what causes cancer in dogs. However, cancer tends to be more common in breeds like Great Danes and German Shepherds.

Symptoms of canine cancer are similar to those in humans. This may include lumps, swollen lymph nodes, or wounds that don’t heal. It’s also possible for your dog to have no visible symptoms and to still have cancer. 

Make sure to take your dog in for a yearly health exam so your vet can keep a close eye on their health. If you notice abnormal behavior or any of the above symptoms, be sure to tell your vet about it.

Cost: $2000-$10000

Initial diagnosis can cost up to $2000. Treatments like chemotherapy, radiation and surgery could range anywhere from $3000-$9000. 

Dental disease

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is very common in dogs. 

The disease starts with an infection caused by bacteria in the mouth. If your dog has a poor diet or if you don’t care for the dog’s dental hygiene on a regular basis, they could be at risk for dental disease.

Dental disease is more common in smaller breeds that have a mouth full of crowded teeth, which make them harder to clean.

The earlier you spot this problem (bad breath and yellowing of teeth are indicators), the cheaper it’ll be to take care of it. The best way to ensure your dog’s dental health is to brush their teeth regularly at home.

Cost: $400-800

Treatment for a dental disease could include treatments like dental x-rays, a professional cleaning, or surgery to remove a tooth.

Ear infections

Ear infections are another common health issue across dog breeds. Ear infections can be caused by allergies, yeast, hair growth deep in the ear, a build-up of bacteria, or ear mites, which are tiny insects that feed on the wax and oil in your dog’s ear.

If your dog scratches their ear frequently or shows signs of poor balance, they could have an ear infection. Other symptoms include ear swelling, discharge from their ear, or redness in their ear canal.

Cost: $150-$450

Treatment for an ear infection could include an ear cleaning and anti-bacterial medication.

It’s hard to predict the type of health costs your dog may need in the future. But seeing your vet at least once a year for a regular checkup can help you minimize the risk of encountering these problems.

Even with checkups, you can’t always prevent the possibility of your dog needing expensive medical treatment down the line. That’s where pet insurance comes in.

From vet visits to surgery to medications, pet insurance can help you focus on your furry friend’s treatment, not bills.

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Brought to you by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. Material discussed is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only and it is not to be construed as tax, legal, investment or medical advice.

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