According to a new study, the majority of Americans treat pets no differently than any other member of their family, often spending hundreds of dollars each year on routine visits to the vet and potentially thousands more on specialty treatments if the animal has cancer, for example.
The American Pet Products Association found dog owners spend, on average, $655 on routine doctor and surgical visits.
For Leah Newton, a fan of Nashville's News 2 on Facebook, the largest vet bill she's ever received was $1,000 while Melba Lawrence spent $1,200 on a single visit.
The good news is there are options for pet owners to help offset such bills like pet health insurance
Just like insurance for humans, animal health insurance works best for families with pets in need of major medical care, otherwise it's not very cost effective, according to local veterinarians.
Dog owner Jeni Hill doesn't have pet insurance, but uses other methods to keeps her bills low like regular checkups.
"We try to keep up with our regular vet checkups, make sure he's eating healthy and everything, his behavior is normal," she explained, adding, "We check him out good for ticks and fleas."
Since 2007, the pet insurance industry has grown by an average of about 10% annually though it's estimated only 800,000 pets in the nation are insured.
Nonetheless, it is an option for pet owners who figure the luxury of such coverage is outweighed by the difficulty of a large, unwanted pet-care bill.