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Monday, Feb. 27, 2017

Cost of Veterinary Care

Posted Friday, August 24, 2007, at 11:35 AM

Well, I admit that I didn't write this but it does pertain to my career.

Sometimes pet owners wonder about the costs of providing quality veterinary care for their pets. These perspectives from a recently published brochure on the topic may help.

Question Why is veterinary care for my pet(s) so expensive these days? Sometimes I believe I'm spending more on my pet's health care than on my own.

Answer Relatively speaking, veterinary care is a great deal. The cost of veterinary care has actually risen very little during the last 20 to 30 years. When compared to the rising cost of human health care, pet care is not at all unreasonable.

Bear in mind that your veterinarian is not only your pet's general physician, but also its surgeon, radiologist, dentist, dermatologist, neurologist, ophthalmologist, psychiatrist, ears/nose/throat doctor, and pharmacist.

Your veterinary bill is a reflection of the costs of maintaining suitable facilities, equipment, and support 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 rendered.

Although it may feel as if you are paying more for your pet's health care than your own, chances are that you probably have adequate health care insurance for your own needs. Consequently, you may never see the total bottom-line figure for your own doctor bills. When human health care costs are added up-including insurance, deductibles, and pharmaceutical costs-there is no comparison to the much lower veterinary care costs.

Today, pet health insurance is available to offset the costs of your furry friends' medical expenses in much the same way that yours are. (ask us for a brochure next time your in.)

The American Animal Hospital Association strongly suggests that all pet owning families assess their financial situation and consider their ability to meet unexpected expenses that may be incurred for veterinary care. For some families, these expenses may be met through existing savings. Others may be able to use credit card reserves or medical payment cards. Some families should consider budgeting for these expenses and still others may want to consider protecting themselves through pet health insurance policies.

The American Animal Hospital Association is not affiliated with any pet health insurance company, nor do we have information regarding pet insurance companies, their policies or costs.

For those considering pet health insurance, AAHA offers the following suggestions:

Be sure you understand what the policy covers. Some policies (but not all) cover some preventative care, such as vaccinations, but there may be additional cost for this coverage.

Understand the exclusions. Almost all policies exclude pre-existing conditions and some exclude hereditary conditions. Some may exclude certain conditions unique to certain breeds.

Almost all policies have a deductible and a co-pay requirement. Some pay according to a set schedule of "usual and customary fees" while some pay based on the actual incurred expense. Be sure you understand how expenses will be reimbursed.

Ask whether or not the policy allows you to seek care from a veterinarian of your own choosing or whether you must go to a veterinarian that participates in the company's network of providers. When faced with a pet's serious illness, most pet owners want to be able to obtain care from their regular veterinarian.

Speak with your veterinarian or someone on her practice team. While veterinarians do not sell insurance, chances are they have had experience with the policy you are considering and can provide helpful advice.

Again, veterinary care can provide your pet with many years of healthy and happy life. Managing the expense of veterinary care can be done in a number of ways; the important advice is to think about it before the need arises.

Question Isn't the cost of veterinary medicine ridiculously high? It's just animal health care, not human health care. I thought my doctor really cared and would go the extra mile for me and help me out with this.

Answer You would never expect your own physician to provide a diagnosis, care, and medication free of charge. You cannot ask your veterinarian to do this for your pet. The extent of care given to any animal is ultimately determined by its owner. As a responsible pet owner, you place a high value on your animal and will want to consider what's best for your pet.

Every pet owner has different ideas about what is acceptable pet care. Veterinarians can only make their clients aware of the services and products that are available and then provide guidance in their choices and decisions. The owner is given options; the owner makes the call and the owner may ask for an estimate of the charges.

Your veterinary bill is a reflection of the cost of maintaining suitable facilities, equipment, and nursing personnel to provide the level of care that is expected in animal medicine today. Ask your veterinarian for an estimate before proceeding with treatment. If you have concerns about fees, AAHA strongly encourages you and the medical director or practice manager of that practice to discuss your concerns.

It's important to understand that most veterinarians can and will go the extra mile for their clients, but they simply cannot jeopardize the quality of their business by waiving fees. Veterinarians must cover their employees' salaries, costly equipment, the expense of years of professional training, and the expense of continuing education for staying up-to-date on the latest research. When veterinarians subsidize clients' bills, they are endangering their practices.

(Excerpted from The Cost of Compassion: Frequently Asked Questions About the Cost of Veterinary Health Care, 1997, AAHA Press.)

For more, visit Healthypet.com

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Thanks Amy for bringing this to everyone's attention. I have used this same piece from AAHA at the hospitals that I worked at over the last 14 years. I remember my first month of being a veterinary "technician". I made a promise to myself right then that I would NEVER complain about the cost of my pets care again. I couldn't believe the amount of work that was done on a daily basis!

Keep up the great work! Your blog is wonderful and I appreciate you helping to raise awareness of the value of pet care.

Tom Dock

Veterinary News Network



-- Posted by tomcat65 on Sat, Aug 25, 2007, at 9:51 AM

Hi Amy,

I came across your blog while doing research for our weekly newsletter, Pet Pro News. I'd not read this particular piece before from AAHA Press, and I found it so well written that it answered questions I had about pet health care. I know our Customer Care department gets frequent questions from pet owners about the cost of pet care and requests to help find low cost pet care for their animals. I've forwarded your blog page to them to refer to.

Thanks Again,



-- Posted by vetlocator on Tue, Aug 28, 2007, at 4:43 PM

You bet vet bills are too high. Furthermore, every vet I have dealt with, some worse than others, is eager to "test" and prescribe or sell me any number of products at inflated prices. I understand the need to "make a living", however vets have become as greedy as MDs (medical doctors), charging whatever the traffic will bear because the"traffic" has no choice. I shelter 4 cats of varying ages, all rescued in one way or another and I love them all. But I am disgusted with the "profession". It has become like so many other areas of our society a money grubbing business. Why no where in this area is there even a hint of a low cost neuter-spay "clinic"...a donation of vet's time for the sake of saving stray animals. As with human cancers, surgeries are recommended and performed even though the vet knows full well they do little to extend the life of an animal but only add to the expense and trauma for the pet




Pet Health Insurance

-- Posted by domenicsaraco on Fri, Jul 30, 2010, at 7:57 AM

I came across your blog while doing research for our weekly newsletter




Pet Health Insurance

-- Posted by domenicsaraco on Fri, Jul 30, 2010, at 8:15 AM

I like this particular article it gives me an additional input in the information a round the world. Thanks a lot and keep going with posting such information.


Pet Insurance

-- Posted by kalvindale on Tue, Aug 3, 2010, at 11:07 PM

I like this particular article it gives me an additional input in the information a round the world. Thanks a lot and keep going with posting such information.


Pet Insurance

-- Posted by kalvindale on Tue, Aug 3, 2010, at 11:08 PM


Compared to other parts of this country, our spays are low cost. Dog Spays also do prevent unwanted puppies and overpopulation, mammary cancer, uterine infections and aggression. Female cats in heat are incredibly annoying.

Neutering also prevents aggression, marking in the home, prostate infections, testicular cancer, unwanted puppies, roaming. Tom cat urine reeks, they spray to mark territory, fighting spreads diseases like leukemia and feline aids.

Tell my why people get pets when they can't afford to provide preventative care for that same pet? Tell me why they think they can have that sick pet fixed for nothing?

If veterinarians are so greedy then why do MD's make better salaries? Why do we offer discounts for routine care to all animals adopted through the McCook Humane Society? Including spays and neuters. As for testing, there is no magic pill that cures all that ails whether your human or animal. You have to know what the problem is before you can plan out your treatment. It's better to test than shoot in the dark and hope it works out all right.

-- Posted by amystrauch on Fri, Sep 10, 2010, at 9:07 PM

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