All Caring Animal Clinic
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE COST OF VETERINARY CARE

 

 

"Why is veterinary care for my pet so expensive? Sometimes I think I am spending more on my pet's health care than on my own!"

 

Veterinary care is really the best bargain in the medical professions today.  Although the cost of veterinary care has risen some over the last few years, the increase is minuscule when compared to the increased cost of human health care or almost any other service. 

Bear in mind that your veterinarian is not only your pet's general physician.  Your veterinarian must also serve as your pet’s surgeon, radiologist, cardiologist, dermatologist, neurologist, ophthalmologist, internist, pediatrician, psychiatrist, obstetrician, ENT specialist, and pharmacist, just to mention a few.

Your veterinary bill is a reflection of the costs of maintaining a quality facility, equipment, and personnel to provide the level of care that is expected in animal medicine today.  Remember, too, that the original cost of the animal has no bearing on the cost of services we provide.  The question is: "Can all people afford a pet?"  If they can't, then who should subsidize them?  The veterinarian?  Although most veterinarians wish they could, it simply is an economic impossibility.  Just look at what is happening in human medicine when those that can afford to pay must pay enough extra to cover the cost of those who cannot pay.

One reason you sometimes feel you are paying more for your pet's health care, than for your own, is that you probably have adequate health insurance for your own health needs; thus, you're never hit with a true bottom-line figure.  If you sat down and added up your insurance costs, deductibles, and drug costs, you will find that veterinary medicine is really a bargain!

 

"Isn't the cost of veterinary medicine out-of-sight and unreasonable? I mean we are "just talking about animal care."  I thought my vet really cared and would go the extra mile for me."

 

The extent of care given to any animal is determined ultimately by its owner.  If you place a low value on the worth of a pet yourself and are not willing to provide adequate care, you probably should not accept the responsibility for keeping a pet since you are sentencing that pet to less than the best that can be offered to it.

Every pet owner has different ideas as to what is acceptable pet care.  Veterinarians can only make their clients aware of needed services and products available.  It is up to the client to decide what level of care is to be provided for that pet.

Veterinarians are willing and do go that extra mile for pet owners, but expenses must be covered.  This includes staff salaries, costly equipment (such as X-Ray machines), and expensive drugs—the same drugs used in human medicine.

 

"Should I be wary of "bargain basement" veterinary care? If so, why?"

 

YES. Generally, you get what you pay for.  If the price is too low, your expectations may not be met.  You are entitled to a full explanation of any service you are paying for.  You are entitled to an estimate of the services needed before they are provided.  The bottom line is that quality care is expensive.  There are no free lunches.

 

"What about low cost spay/neuter clinics?"

 

Spay/neuter procedures are perceived as a minor procedure by most people.  Spaying is major abdominal surgery of a female to remove the internal reproductive organs.  The same anesthetics, drugs, instruments, and procedures are used as for a woman.  We are committed to help control the pet overpopulation to the point that these procedures are actually performed on a cost basis.  If we were to lower fees more, we would have to compromise your pet's safety or lower our technique procedure standards.  Frankly, we are not willing to use cheaper anesthetics with higher risk factors, or use the same bloody instruments on more than one pet without proper cleaning and sterilization.  For clients concerned only with low cost rather than pet safety, we would refer them to cheaper clinics.  We stand behind our techniques and are always close by if problems develop either while the pet is hospitalized or during its recovery at home.

 

"If my veterinarian doesn't clear up my pet’s problem, can I get a refund?"

 

Fees cover what is done for the pet including the examination, lab tests, treatment, and medications. Some problems can be long-term or involve multiple and/or changing causes. Treatment may be on­going.  To affect a cure is not always possible. You are paying for an HONEST attempt to diagnose and treat a problem. There is NO implied guarantee of successful outcome. We just try our best. Our clinic continues to grow due to the high percentage of successful outcomes we produce.

 

"My pet's bill adds up to a lot of money. I just don't have that kind of money all at once. What about terms?"

 

Our veterinary fees are based on payment at the time of service.  To keep fees low as possible, we must eliminate all unnecessary factors that would raise fees.  The hospital business manager will be able to clarify the payment policy of our clinic.

Many needed procedures can be staggered over a period of time, rather than "doing everything at once."  Discussing the pet's health care needs on a spread out basis is one way to diffuse the cost over the year.  The pet owner should not expect the veterinary practice to be the banker for the pet's health care needs.  We accept credit cards and will "hold checks" for up to 30 days.  The bottom line from the business standpoint is that if a pet owner has no money, no checking account, no credit card, and no job, there is little solid evidence that payment will ever come.  This is sad for those of us, who really care about pet care, but it is a business fact of life we must live with or we will not stay in business very long.

 

"Why do prices vary from clinic to clinic?"

 

Prices are established by a clinic that will cover its cost of operation to provide the services requested.  Often phone shopped prices do not reflect the same set of services.  For instance, spays, neuters, and declaw packages may vary from clinic to clinic.  Our phone quotes cover the total cost of the basic procedure that is quoted.  These procedures are once-in-a-lifetime procedures for your pet.  The important thing is that they be done right!

Every veterinarian sets the fees for services based on varying criteria, such as different drugs, anesthetics, antibiotics, and quality of supplies, to be used.  You will usually find the difference in getting quality services does not cost that much more than the cheapest price you get.  And it certainly can make a difference to the outcome for the pet.

 

"My injured (or sick) pet needs to be seen by a veterinarian, but………

 

… I just lost my job, or … I don't get paid for another 2 weeks, or … I barely have enough money to put food on the table, and so on. 

 

If there were no satisfactory financial arrangements made for payment, veterinary practices would end up operating at a loss, eventually to the point of having to close down.  If you don't have a credit card, perhaps you can borrow the money from a friend.

Most responsible pet owners have a regular veterinarian and most will work out a payment plan with their regular clients.  The problem arises with people who have pets that do not get regular veterinary care, but demand and seek services in an emergency situation without guaranteeing payment.

 

"I recently took in a stray that appeared injured.  I took him to a vet and paid the initial bill.  I am unable to afford further treatment.  Is this my reward for trying to do the right thing?"

 

If you "adopt" the animal, you become the owner and therefore are responsible for the animal's care.  Hopefully, a healthy animal is your reward for trying to do the right thing.

We understand the emotions that we can get caught up in when we see an animal that is homeless and needs help. However, making the decision to take in a stray should only be done with the same careful consideration that is involved in purchasing or adopting a new pet.  The veterinary expenses are not assessed based on the method by which a pet is acquired.  If you are not willing to take financial responsibility for a stray animal, it should be referred to the local animal shelter.

 

"Why can't the veterinarian advise, diagnose, and prescribe over the phone and save me a lot of time and money?"

 

Not only is it unethical and illegal to prescribe for an animal that hasn't been physically examined by a veterinarian, it is also impossible to come up with an accurate diagnosis and rational plan of treatment.  A veterinarian can't make a diagnosis based on signs only as observed by an owner.  The outward signs may be an indication of any number of internal causes with a variety of clinical treatments.  A complete physical examination is required to determine the cause of signs and best course of treatment.

Asking your veterinarian to advise, diagnose, and/or prescribe over the phone is the same as having your physician prescribe over the phone.   If you were told to take an antacid for what was, in actuality, a heart attack, the results could be disastrous!


 

"How much should I anticipate spending for veterinary care for a new puppy or kitten initially, and then on an annual basis thereafter?"

 

Puppies and kittens need basic health examinations and worm checks.  Depending on their age and health status they need to complete a vaccination program.  The cost varies with each pet.  Our clinic will be happy to provide you with a suggested preventive health care program for your new pet at the time of the initial examination and consultation.  We can provide the same thing for annual visits as your pet ages.

 

"Does my pet have to get a full set of inoculations to get a rabies tag and license? What shots are absolutely necessary for my dog/cat and how much do they cost?"

 

To get a rabies tag and license, only a rabies vaccine is needed according to law.  It is in the best interest of your pet to get a routine checkup plus all the necessary vaccines as determined by our veterinarian for your pet so that your pet remains healthy and is a good companion for you.  There are many diseases around, many of them fatal.  Administering vaccines is an easy way to prevent pain, suffering, and death.  Prices will vary and we will be happy to provide you with an estimate for your particular pet.