Adding It Up: Total Cost of Ownership for Veterinary Software

21 December 2023 5 min read


When veterinary practice owners and managers consider switching to cloud-based veterinary software from a server-based—or on-premises (on-prem)—practice information management system (PIMS), cost is often the primary deciding factor. But, the true cost of veterinary software includes more than price-shopping for startup expenses and ongoing fees—veterinary owners and practice managers must also carefully measure their prospective investment in terms of time, team effort, and satisfaction. 

The on-prem price tag: Server-based software costs

Traditional server-based veterinary software systems frequently require significant upfront and ongoing expenses. Like many clinic costs, these expenses aren’t strictly financial in nature—systems with outdated workflows cost your team’s time, energy, and efficiency. And, unlike more modern software options, on-prem software may not provide a significant return on investment (ROI) that can help offset operational costs.

When you determine the total investment of an on-prem system, you must consider and calculate the following expenses to ensure an accurate cost comparison:

  • The initial cost — This includes the PIMS purchase price, plus the cost of setting up and operating the system’s necessary hardware and software. An on-prem system’s initial costs range from $3,000 to $6,000, not including the server, which may be an additional $3,000 to $7,000 for a small to mid-sized practice.1
  • Periodic server upgrades — Aging hardware can negatively affect practice performance and efficiency, as well as increase vulnerability to cyber attacks. Server replacement is recommended every three to five years and costs between $3,000 to $7,000, depending on practice size.1
  • Software support — PIMS support services that provide access to expert forums and chat functions, help files and documents, staff training materials, and troubleshooting resources commonly require an additional monthly fee ranging anywhere from $100 to $200, in addition to the initial purchase and other ongoing costs.1 
  • Security fees — Server-based systems store practice data locally, so are more vulnerable to physical damage (e.g., fire, flood, theft) and cyber threats. You will need to protect your practice data with regular backups, which can average $30 or more per month.1
  • IT services — Reliable, well-connected IT services are necessary to maintain a functional and secure infrastructure and network. Unfortunately, these services come at a high cost, especially when tallied over a server-based system’s lifetime.

Lighter than air: Weighing out cloud-based costs versus benefits

Cloud-based veterinary software options—such as Covetrus® Pulse™, an innovative cloud-based Veterinary Operating System (vOS™)—are different, not only because they lack a physical footprint in the clinic, but also because they provide extraordinary cost-savings by driving efficiency, reducing errors, and combining multiple ongoing costs into one convenient monthly subscription fee.

While cloud-based solutions still require some initial investment (e.g., compatible devices such as laptops and tablets), this output is quickly recovered with efficiency and time-saving gains.

Notable cloud-based savings include:

  • Minimal to no hardware costs — With Pulse, your practice can save money that would otherwise be spent on an expensive server—and its future replacements. With this savings, practices can purchase compatible devices such as laptops and tablets for their staff or reallocate the unused funds for other business needs.
  • No additional cost for upgrades and updates — In a subscription-based price model, users don’t have to budget additional charges or fees for future improvements, features, and security updates, because these enhancements are automatically incorporated into the software. Therefore, you can always be confident that your practice is operating at maximum capability, with the most advanced features, and protected by the latest security upgrades and bug fixes.
  • Support with no strings attached — You shouldn’t have to pay extra for optimum use of your veterinary software. Serverless solutions include online assistance, staff resources and training, and access to help articles in your monthly subscription. Additionally, because your data is safely stored in the cloud, your practice can find other areas to allocate resources you currently utilize for in-house or contracted IT.
  • Reliable security ensures seamless safety for practice data — Data storage and protection go hand in hand, so cloud-based software options include data backup and surveillance in their monthly subscription rather than an optional add-on fee. And, you have peace of mind—the ultimate advantage.
  • Time savings from improved workflow — A cloud-based vOS brings all your practice tools and applications into one system, helping your team save three hours per week2 and simplify your operations.

Your veterinary practice software is more than another technology purchase—it’s an investment in your business’ productivity, security, and future growth. Switching to a cloud-based system greatly reduces hardware-related headaches and expenses, your team is more satisfied because they have the latest features, functionality, and security for maximum efficiency and accuracy—and your practice enjoys long-term financial and time savings.

As the industry’s first Veterinary Operating System (vOS), Pulse merges cloud-based efficiency and accessibility with the convenience of a centralized hub for running all your practice tools and applications.

Learn more about the value and benefits of Pulse.


  1. Avimark Billing Data. Covetrus, 2023.
  2. Study Reveals New Covetrus Technology Saves Time, Provides Relief to Overworked, Understaffed Veterinary Practices. Covetrus, 2022.



Covetrus® Pulse®: The #1 rated veterinary practice management software1

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  • Save an average of 3+ hours per week2
  • Improve practice efficiency and help reduce burnout
  • Maximize productivity with customized tools

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1. G2. Accessed on March 14, 2024.
2. Covetrus Pulse user survey of 2,500 practices, 2022. Accessed on March 14, 2024.