Both veterinary clinics and horse owners have an interest in the cost of Coggins tests and horse health certificates. These services are required to travel across state lines with a horse, to attend certain types of events, or to sell the horse. Unless they have their own in-house laboratory, vet clinics must find an affordable but reliable Coggins lab to serve their clients and stay competitive in areas where there are multiple large-animal veterinary options. Horse owners need to know how much Coggins testing will cost because keeping horses is expensive already, and many people own several horses so a few dollars difference can really start to add up over time, especially if you live or travel to a state that requires Coggins testing every 6 months.
We’ve already produced a short answer to this question in our FAQ section. We’ve also created a handy resource to help veterinarians and horse owners find the best price for Coggins testing in their area. Nevertheless, we wanted to provide a more detailed explanation of how much you can expect to pay for Coggins testing—and why.
Cost of Coggins Testing at Veterinary Diagnostic Labs
Licensed veterinarians can typically have Coggins testing run by a state- or university-run diagnostic laboratory for as little as $3-$10. This is only the lab testing fee and does not include packaging and shipping costs or extra charges for expedited test results reporting. Shipping costs may be included, subsidized by the lab, provided through a special courier service, or up to the veterinarian. Some type of express shipping is always recommended to preserve the serum sample, but for last-minute STAT testing, overnight shipping of equine specimens can cost $50 or more. For this reason, the total cost of Coggins testing for veterinarians is more like $5-$60, but depends greatly on the delivery method and the number of samples per delivery.
Getting the results should be free in most cases. Some labs offer complimentary digital Coggins reporting through the USDA and/or GlobalVetLink systems. Others offer this feature for an additional minimal fee. Labs will also submit results through email, fax, and/or regular mail, but it can be helpful to horse owners traveling with horses to have a digital record of their Coggins test and certificate of veterinary inspection.
Many VDLs are funded through some combination of the university, the state’s department of agriculture, and the lab fees themselves. Often, these VDLs are charged with serving the larger public interest in terms of monitoring animal diseases and safeguarding the state’s agricultural production and food supply. This mission means these labs typically offer Coggins testing at very affordable prices for veterinary diagnostic services. If nothing else, most labs waive their “assay fee” for Coggins testing in recognition of the fact that this regulatory testing is mandatory for most horse owners. This mission also means some labs may charge a different fee for in-state vs. out-of-state veterinarians and horse owners.
Understanding Cost Differences in Coggins Tests for Horse Owners
Given what veterinarians typically pay for Coggins testing—and why—it’s a little easier to understand the wide range of prices equine veterinarians may charge their clients. We’ve seen prices as low as $20 or more than $100. That said, the cheapest prices for Coggins tests are often itemized along with additional fees for blood draws, physical exams, and health certificates—not to mention other wellness care services the veterinarian may provide. In fact, if don’t already have a plan to provide basic wellness care, the best deal for Coggins testing may be rolled up into a comprehensive wellness and preventative care program for your horse that includes like vaccinations, de-worming, dental care, and other care services. Many equine clinics offer more multiple wellness care packages with basic preventative services for the average pleasure horse, as well as enhanced wellness programs for performance horses.
The good news is that there are simple things horse owners can do to make Coggins testing easier on their veterinarians and cheaper on themselves in the process. Two of the best things you can do are give the veterinarian plenty of lead time and get all your horses tested at the same time. This will ensure you don’t have to pay extra for expedited testing, and it will reduce packaging and shipping costs per horse. Like so many things, it’s helpful to check the policies and prices of multiple equine vet clinics, assuming there’s more than one practitioner in your area.
That said, costs may not be the only considerable for managing your equine operations. Most horse owners will gladly pay an extra fee for a farm call to do the blood draw and physical exam. Performance horses may gain entry to events on short notice and need to make last-minute travel plans. Alternatively, an owner may get an offer on a horse they can’t refuse, but to complete the sale, the owner must rush the required Coggins test.
Don’t Let Cost Keep You from Coggins Testing
Finally, know that the most expensive kind of Coggins test is the one that never happens. Fines can reach into the thousands of dollars, and if you intentionally flout the rules, horse owners can even face criminal charges and jail time. If anything, checking for horses’ travel papers has become more common than ever. Digital documentation of Coggins test results and horse health certificates make the verification process relatively painless for both the horse owner and the authorities.