FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE COST OF VETERINARY
"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
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
most veterinarians wish they could, it simply is an economic
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
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
"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.
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,
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?"
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
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
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
Often phone shopped prices do not reflect the same set of
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
procedures are once-in-a-lifetime procedures for your pet. The important thing is that
they be done right!
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,
… 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
"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
Hopefully, a healthy animal is your reward for trying to do the
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
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
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
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