Published: Dec 13, 2012 7:21 AM EST
Updated: Dec 13, 2012 11:59 AM EST

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- How much would you pay to save your pet? Recent estimates show Americans will spend over $13 billion on general and specialty pet care this year.

Medical specialties like cardiology, oncology, neurology and internal medicine once reserved for human health care have now expanded into veterinary care. But if not navigated carefully, increased specialty can come with increased cost.

Dan and Kay Millar have had Tiberius the german shepherd for 13 years. He developed hip problems as a puppy and at the age of five had a full replacement.

Because of his severe joint pain the Millars took Tiberius to a veterinary specialist.

"So when we brought him out here one of the first things they did was run the whole battery of tests on him-- ultrasound, MRIs and so forth. They gave us the whole wrap up of what the analysis is of what was wrong and how do we go about taking care of it," said Kay Millar.

Pets grow to be members of the family so when they're suffering from a debilitating disease or injury we feel compelled to try whatever it takes to lessen the pain.

Nearly half of respondents in an Angie's List poll said they've sought veterinary specialty care for their pet.

A quarter of those say they've spent more than $2,500 dollars.

"When hiring a specialty veterinarian you are going to do the same research you would for a regular vet. You want to check their board credentials, their experience, how long they've been practicing," advised Angie's List founder, Angie Hicks.

The Millars specialty vet uses an underwater treadmill and laser treatments to help Tiberius heal.

But know your limits before you get into this type of treatment.

While some are willing to pay whatever it takes, others are left with sticker shock.

Make sure you manage your expectations.. some pet health conditions cannot be resolved, no matter how much money you spend on a treatment. Seek a second opinion if you're not satisfied but be prepared if nothing can be done.

If you are committed to doing anything you can for your pet in the event of injury or illness but don't have the extra cash consider pet insurance.

But just like regular insurance ask about deductibles, exclusions, co-pays and caps.