How Much Do Dog Stitches Cost?

Photo by Aaron Silvers on Flickr

Even the best behaved dog in the world will get himself in trouble at some point in his life.

Dogs are curious by nature, they don’t have a concept of danger, and, unfortunately, accidents do happen.

Don’t beat yourself over this, in most cases there was nothing you could do to prevent it, but now you have to figure out a way to help your poor suffering pet.

If you’re wondering how much the visit to the vet will cost, we have the answers you’re looking for.

Also, we’ll have a look at the most common injuries in dogs and we’ll help you understand what sorts of wounds can be safely treated at home and when a trip to the vet is inevitable.

On the other hand, if your regular vet has very stiff prices there are cheaper alternatives, or even free ones.

There is help available so your pet doesn’t need to suffer.

How much do dog stitches cost in vets in the US?

This depends on the type of injury your dog has. If your pet was attacked by another dog or if he cut himself, he probably has an uncomplicated wound that just requires some stitches.

The kind of money you’re looking at is anywhere between $100 and $300.

This includes the visit fee, during which the vet assesses your pet’s condition, and this is typically $30 – 45.

The rest is for the procedure itself, plus the anaesthetic and the materials needed.

Another crucial factor is where you live and what sort of vets you have nearby.

A large clinic with state-of-the-art equipment and high-brow surgeons is likely to cost more, a lot more than a small practice, mom-and-pop sort of thing where they’re more mindful of how much a pet owner can afford to pay. 

If your dog had a serious accident, like being hit by a car, and there’s extensive damage, it will probably cost you thousands of dollars to treat him.   

Is there a separate cost for stitches removal?

Once again this depends.

Some doctors include stitches removal in the cost of the surgery, while others don’t.

They’ll probably let you know right from the start, but if they don’t make sure to ask, it’s you who’s paying after all. 

When stitches removal is billed separately, they’ll charge their usual hourly rate plus the $30-40 visit fee. 

When should I treat a cut at home and when should I let the vet do it?

Do you go to the ER every time you cut yourself? Probably not.

If it’s not a serious injury you can take care of it at home.

If you cut your finger while chopping vegetables you won’t need to see a doctor unless it’s a deep wound and there seems to be some muscle damage. 

The same goes for dogs.

Don’t be scared by the blood, even superficial wounds can be quite messy.

If you can stop the bleeding and the cut doesn’t appear too deep you can deal with it at home and save yourself $100. 

However if it’s a deep wound and there’s no way it will heal nicely on its own, forget about the money and go see a vet.

You don’t want to risk the dog getting a nasty infection, putting your dog’s life in danger.

You might end up going to an emergency room and pay a lot more than a few stitches would have cost you. 

What are the most common causes of dog injuries that require stitches?

There are many reasons a dog might get an open wound that needs medical attention. Here are the most common causes of dog injuries.

Dog fights

A dog can get into a fight even if you have him on a leash, as you cannot control other people’s pets.

This can happen to all dogs, large or small, but the consequences will be more serious if your pet picks up a fight with a dog twice its size. 

Dogs usually go for the more sensitive neck area, but when they bare their teeth there’s no telling what’s going to happen.

Bites can be superficial, but a large dog can inflict severe damage, affecting the underlying tissue as well and you cannot exclude bone fractures.

Getting hit by a car

This is a major concern when your dog is allowed to roam freely and you don’t use a leash when taking him for a walk.

Unfortunately, a dog that gets hit by a car may sustain a major trauma, resulting in head wounds, bone fractures, internal injuries and skin lacerations.

You’ll be lucky if all he needs are a few stitches.

If you were not there to actually see the impact, you should take the dog to the vet as a safety precaution even if you don’t see any open wounds.

You cannot tell if there is internal damage and you don’t want to wait until the symptoms appear as it might be too late by then.

Cuts and punctures

An energetic dog always running around can get hurt even in your own backyard.

There’s always the risk of him getting a deep cut from a nail or a sharp piece of metal you didn’t consider a risk up to now.

A dog that is hell-bent on escaping from the yard to chase a female in heat might scratch himself while trying to jump over the fence or digging a tunnel under it.

Even a sharp bough can cause a gaping wound and there will be a lot of blood, no matter how deep it is. 

Nasty falls

A dog falling from the balcony or another high place is not unheard of and they don’t fall on their feet as easily as cats do.

This might result in a broken bone, not just a skin injury. The vet will have to fix the broken leg before stitching the wound, and this will obviously cost more. 

Are the cost of stitches covered by most pet insurance policies in the US?

The good news is that most pet insurance policies in the US do cover accidents, including those that require stitches. 

Many pet insurance companies offer various plans so you can pick one that seems most suitable for you and your pet.

A basic pet wellness plan won’t probably cover something like stitches, but if you get a major medical plan or a whole pet policy you will be reimbursed 90% on your vet bill. 

Whether you get pet insurance is totally up to you.

If your dog will only need some stitches once or twice in his life, that’s not such a big deal.

However, if your dog sustains some major trauma, that will cost quite a lot and you’ll be happy to have insurance.

Check out these price estimates for the most frequent doggy problems to understand what sort of money we’re talking about.

Note that the prices might be inflated to scare you into buying pet insurance, but there’s no denying that taking care of sick pets can put a dent in your finances. 

What are the low cost or free alternatives to a visit to the vets?

What do you do when your dog needs urgent help but you cannot possibly spend hundreds of dollars?

Such situations happen more often than you’d think, but there are solutions.

If you have a trusted vet that regularly sees your pet, at least for an annual check up ask them about a financial plan.

They know only too well their services are quite pricey so they might agree that you pay by installments over a few weeks or months if it’s a really costly procedure. 

If you have a choice, try a vet in a rural area where fees are lower than at a midtown clinic.

If there’s a veterinary clinic in your area, give them a call and see if they have a clinic.

These usually have low costs or you might be lucky enough to find one that’s free. 

Crowdfunding is another great alternative and there are so many people who love animals, so you might find a few willing to help you cover the costs. 

 GoFundMe is a good option, but this platform is too general.

You might prefer Waggle, which also offers crowdfunding solutions but they’re strictly for pets (and owners) in need. 

Here are other sites that provide charitable funding for pets who need medical treatment:

American Veterinary Medical Foundation

Bow Wow Buddies

Help-a-Pet

The Pet Fund

Will my dog need a general anesthetic or local?

This depends on the severity of the injury.

A massive injury that requires some repair surgery will most probably require general anesthetic.

A simple cut on the other hand can be dealt with using only a local anesthetic. This is to be preferred as a general anesthetic poses some risks. 

Do vets use dissolvable stitches? Are they more expensive?

Absorbable stitches are used when there’s a deep wound and the vet needs to repair various layers of tissue.

Also known as intradermal sutures, the stitches will slowly dissolve and get absorbed in the tissue, so there’s nothing to remove when the injury is healed.

They are indeed more expensive than traditional stitches, but you don’t have to worry about stitches removal, or pay for it extra. 

Do vets use staples or glue to treat wounds?

Sometimes a vet will use staples to close a wound and these might be better for some dogs.

They’re hard to take off if your dog scratches at the wound and they are also associated with less infections and skin reactions.

On the other hand, many vets prefer staples because they’re easy to apply and it takes less time than stitches.

You’ll have to have the staples removed in 10-14 days, just like traditional stitches,

Small superficial wounds can be closed using surgical glue.

This will appear as a blue line on the animal’s skin and will dissolve as the injury heals. 

What are the best ways to treat a small cut at home?

If your dog has a small cut you can start by stopping the bleeding.

You can do this by applying a piece of gauze to the wound for a few minutes.

This should do the trick.

One the bleeding has stopped, check the injury to make sure it is indeed superficial and there is no underlying tissue exposed.

You can disinfect the wound by applying povidone iodine. Do not use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.

If needed you can apply some over the counter antiseptic ointment, like Neosporin. 

Closing Thoughts

When your dog gets injured it’s inevitable you’ll think of the costs.

Small cuts that do not fully penetrate the skin can be treated at home with some basic disinfectant and antibiotic ointment.

For more severe wounds, it’s best to see a vet right away.

This might cost you a few hundred dollars, but it’s a sacrifice you’ll have to make if you don’t want to see your dog getting an infection.

Don’t be afraid to talk to your vet about your money concerns.

They’re used to that and they might offer a payment plan over a few weeks or months to help you out.

You should also check veterinary schools in your area which often have low-cost clinics, or, if necessary, go online to find funding for your pet’s treatment.