Vet Prices Are Too High

by Maggie Sharp
(Hobart, Tasmania, Australia)

Photo by joeysplanting (Flickr - see base of page for link)

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Photo by joeysplanting (Flickr - see base of page for link)

Has anyone ever gone to the vet to do something basic and walked out with a giant bill? How annoying, unfair, and down-right ridiculous is it?!

As cat lovers we all know that we'll go to the ends of the earth to keep our cats healthy and happy, but why do vets have to make it so darn hard by charging an arm and a leg (and every other body part!!!) for us to keep our cats in good shape?

I think there should be a system set up to help out with prices... I called an emergency vet for Chilli once (long story) and all the vet did was check over him and then charge me $110 for the emergency call!! And considering that he lives about 10 minutes from his surgery and we live about 20 minutes from there, is worse, because we arrived there about 15 minutes before he did!!!

Does anyone know of any loop-holes, or systems that people can use to look after their pet while not exceeding their budget at the same time..? If you do, please share... I don't know if vets do this to make money, or if it's just how much they need to charge in order to continue buying medication and putting more into their business, but it is unfair, and people of this day and age just can't afford the ridiculous prices...


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Vet Prices Are Too High to Cat Health Problems

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Vet Prices Are Too High

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Nov 21, 2011 Elisa NEW
by: Michael

Elisa, it seems that you recommend pet insurance for certain situations. Would they be:

- multi-cat households
- cats that you think might be predisposed to a certain illness.
- accident prone cats!!

Nov 21, 2011 Thoughts
by: Elisa Black-Taylor

I believe a lot of the vet charges are for unnecessary tests done just to say they were done. People out there will sue a vet if the vet misses a diagnosis resulting in the harm/death of a pet. It's the same as with humans. Do every test possible just to say "we checked for that."

Furby has insurance and even it's a hassle. I got it on his as he was very accident prone as a kitten. He's still bad about knocking things over just to hear them hit the floor. His insurance has a $50 deductible and then pays 100% for up to $12,000 a year. I still have to pay the bill and then I get reimbursed. The premiums are under $20 a month. I'm glad he has it because I believe he'll have the hip dysplasia Maine Coons are famous for.

The only thing I have going for me is if I have several kittens sick at once, my vet does cut me a break and only charges for one cat exam but treats all of them. If not for that I'd never manage caring for 27 cats in our rescue.

There are traveling clinics that offer vaccines here and there are also farm and garden stores that sell the vaccines and you can give them yourself for about 1/3 the price.

BTW, Furbys vet bill for throwing up and a URI was $130. $25 was for an antibiotic shot, $25 for a B-12 shot, $8 for a worm test. If not for the insurance he wouldn't have had either of the shots because I just can't afford it and pills would have done the trick anyway.

May 02, 2011 RE: Ask Yourself
by: Anonymous

I would, of course, have no problem spending a lot more than $1200 to keep a child alive. But let's face it, the life of a child is more important that that of a spouse, which would be more important than that of a parent, which would be orders of magnitude more important than that of a pet(hence the expression "human rights"). Animals have short lives and little comprehension of their mortality, so euthanizing one doesn't strike me as particularly inhumane to the animal, though it can be quite hard on some owners. Of course, if I believed in some evil god that would send a cat to "kitty hell" forever for the sin of having had its life cut short, I'd be more reluctant to kill one, but I can't claim to have any beliefs on that subject. On the other hand, I've had enough experience with medical procedures to know that going through a major operation like heart surgery would be an unimaginable hell even for humans. For an animal, who can't complain if it is in pain (and thus might be suffering beyond what most humans would tolerate) and can't comprehend why it's being put through such torture, it could easily be much worse. So, even with unlimited funds, I would never put an animal through the kinds of heroic treatments humans take for granted, even though it would probably pain me to part with said animal. But I should add that many pet adopters have already saved an animal from euthanasia or abuse; if one takes the position "I'll keep this animal comfortable for as long as reasonably possible, but I won't spend any real money on it.", I'd still consider that a net positive.
As for no-kill shelters, my previous comment was probably a little unfair to the ones that have the diligence and opportunity to send their animals only to good homes. I still object to them in principle. All shelters share a limited (and in this foreclosure-ridden economy, shrinking) pool of good homes, so it's conceivable that any shelter that accepts an unlimited number of animals could become stuck with more than it can place or afford to humanely care for. I'd be much more trusting of a shelter if told "We don't kill any animals now, because we can properly manage the animals we get. But we would euthanize if the alternative would be compromising our standards for care and adoption".

May 02, 2011 Ask Yourself...
by: Gail (Boston, USA)

Anonymous, while I understand your reluctance about the cost of medical treatment for a cat, ask yourself this... Would you want your doctor to kill your son, daughter, mother, father, significant other because the cost was $1,200? What if you were unemployed? Should you put down your child? C'mon! Let's be honest now...would you? No, you would not. That's not to say there isn't a line to be drawn.

If a cat were terminal and spending said $1,200 only prolongs the inevitable, then I would opt for euthanasure rather than extend my cat's suffering. This is not the gist of this subject though.

Pet insurance is also a personal thing. It's always better to begin when the cat is young; however, in lieu of paying the monthly premium, if money were regularly put into a savings account, STRICTLY FOR THE CAT, never dipping into it for any other reason, money would be available for vet bills. One also needs to take a good look at their vet. Are they only a money-maker or do they really care about their patients?

Please don't paint all No-Kill shelters with the same brush. There are good shelters and bad ones. It's up to each of us to investigate. Our shelter limits animals that we have room for comfortably. When we are full, we circulate a 2-page list of other area shelters, noting which ones are 'no-kill' - otherwise, animals go on a wait list.

Accepted animals 1st go into quarantine, seen by a vet (and treated for any ailments), get all age appropriate shots, spayed/neutered and microchipped. They are also evaluated by a behavioralist if needed (mostly dogs). If an animal gets sick while in our care, they immediately go into our isolation room where only trained meds people/vets are allowed (wrapped in a hazmat-type body suit). Even the laundry from the isolation room is handled separately to ensure sanitation. All adoptions are carefully screened and tracked. Any animal found to be neglected or who cannot be kept for any reason is returned to the shelter for re-homing.

That is how a responsible No-Kill shelter operates, Anonymous. If your area shelter doesn't have these protocols in place, how about doing something about it rather than opining online? Our shelter used to be the old (high-kill) city pound until the new ACO got together with volunteers in our area and created what we have today. It's a lot of work, but well worth it, especially for our four-legged friends.

May 01, 2011 Everyone has their limit.
by: Anonymous

I wouldn't be so self-righteous about someone having a pet euthanized to avoid a $1200 bill. After a major medical event, one can often (though not always) expect more. Many pet owners would pay it, but most of those would draw the line somewhere. I used to work with a woman who paid $20,000 on her cat just after being laid off; for most people, that's insane. Spending oneself into poverty to keep an animal alive is lunacy; it won't live forever no matter what you do. Pet insurance may be useful for people with younger animals, but it can't produce tens of thousands of dollars out of thin air. As technology advances, it will get less and less affordable, just as human health care has. Finally, I would be very suspicious of no-kill shelters. How exactly do they care for an unlimited number of animals without dumping them into unfit homes? I love my cat, but would rather see he go to sleep painlessly than live in a house of horrors with some filthy old "cat rescuer".

Oct 12, 2010 Both Anonymous Comments
by: Gail (Boston, MA USA)

Anonymous #1 - If you cannot, in good conscience, give your pets the necessary care needed, may I suggest you surrender your pets to a 100% NO-KILL shelter, rather than putting them down? Your reasoning is the lamest I have heard in some time. To even suggest to your CHILDREN that you will KILL their pet because you won't pay for vet bills is unconscionable! I hope your kids grow up without being twisted as you. Suggestion #2 would be to not be so cheap and buy PET INSURANCE! Just be sure the insurance covers maintenance and not just accidents.

Anonymous #2 (Vet) - I understand and sympathize with what you are experiencing in your chosen profession - it is a double-edged sword. I would never have believed your tale, except I recently changed vets to one who runs a 2-vet office and is the most amazing person I have ever had the pleasure to know! He is the type of vet who will tell his client all the facts, review all the costs, make suggestions, but ultimately the choice is the owner's as to how to proceed. He was with me every step of the way with my dearly departed Sadie during her fight for survival and between us, Sadie had rallied; however, he also made me realize that it would probably be short-term. He was right. He also convinced me not to give Sadie up to our shelter (due to the high cost of potential surgery) because she probably wouldn't survive the surgery - plus, if the cat was deemed terminal, the shelter would put her down, one of the last resorts of a no-kill shelter. I am forever in his debt for the counsel.

Cat owners - if you cannot afford to give 1st class, quality care for your furkid, please don't adopt. Yes, it is expensive but so is every thing else. One needs to have priorities. Children need to know an animal needs to be cared for, not put down just because it costs money. What kind of lesson is that? Honestly, I wonder sometimes about our society.

Oct 11, 2010 Anyone care to hear the OTHER side?
by: Anonymous

I am a veterinarian, and I would like to just point out that vet prices are high COZ STUFF COSTS A LOT!!! I earn less than my friends who are nurses and drive a 12 year old ford focus. I work up to 80hour weeks and dont get paid if you call me at 2am (yes, sometimes after hours prices HAVE to be high to discourage people ringing in the middle of the night for a case of diarrhoea as the vet still has to get up and do a 12 hour day in the morning and be on call again the next night! We dont work just the night shift as in human hospitals as there isnt enough money to pay a seperate vet for this).
The reason it costs $30 to see a human doctor and $50 to see a vet is because the human doctor gets double that again from the government for seeing you! Our $50 has to cover our wages, the nurses wages, the receptionists, the equipment, the strays we have to care for etc etc etc.
I dont want to be one of those people having a rant to defend my job, it just sometimes get upset that we spend years studying, we care a great deal for your animals and you will never find a vet that leaves the building within an hour or two of their rostered finish time because we care so we stay, and people only ever see the prices. PLEASE get your pet insured so we can all care for the pets without this being an issue.

Sep 30, 2010 Only Alternative is to put down
by: Anonymous

Every few months the office visit alone is going up. Now its 48.00. A visit to a person doctor is 30.. figure that one out. Our vet practice was bought by a California company. So it's charging in the MidWest, California prices. The vet thought that to remove a stone from one of my cats would be 278 dollars, not so, the computer said 445. In less then three weeks, and three bills, for three different cats, the total was over 1,200 dollars. I told my daughter, next time we will put the animal down. You do not need to buy the latest gizmo on the market and spend thousands and thousands of dollars on it. Just do the regular vet work. Another thing, stop pushing all these test and shots that an animal needs. If I follow the vet's office request, I would be spending at least 4,000 dollars for that.

Feb 24, 2010 Money in a Jar
by: Gail (Boston, MA USA)

Well, Finn, you and I happen to agree on this one. I have one savings account at the moment; however, my contributions vary - mostly, they would go to pet care if needed.

Locally, we have double/triple coupons from manufacturers that to redeem at our local supermarket/greengrocer. My local market also provides personal scanners, used by shoppers to scan their groceries and bag yourself prior to reaching the cashier. With that convenience, we also get additional discounts for using the scanner as well as bringing our own bags.

The reason I mention this, is because at the end of the grocery tape, it shows how much money saved after coupons, scanning and bagging yourself. With that info, I deposit the same amount into savings...after all, I would've spent it anyway getting the groceries and it's worked out to be the perfect way to save additional monies for pet care!

Feb 24, 2010 Save your money in a jar
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

Not surprisingly the insurance company concludes that the elder cats will cost them more. The premium would have to be sky high in order for them to make a profit. And if you insure a young cat, you may be paying for many years without getting all that money back.
I still believe in saving the money in a jar instead - or a special account, if you like. 😉

Finn Frode avatar

Feb 24, 2010 Pet Insurance
by: Gail (Boston, MA USA)

Jillian, pet insurance can be a lifesaver in a lot of instances; however, those of us with older pets get left out.

My Sadie will be 16 next month; Trupanion only goes up to 13 years. Like the healthcare industry, pet insurance hasn't caught up with the times and health advancements either.

Feb 23, 2010 pet insurance is worth checking out
by: Jillian

yeah, vet bills can be quite costly, but getting pet insurance can be beneficial. I have a pug and frequent the vet a lot. It adds up. I enrolled with Trupanion pet insurance after shopping around and comparing all the companies. They have been wonderful thus far, approve and process my claims super fast, they're friendly and helpful every time I call, they cover 90% of our vet bills, and im very glad we signed up. Worth looking into pet insurance if you have a pet!

Feb 22, 2010 English Prices
by: Michael

Living in London, England as I do, I find prices a bit frightening to tell the truth.

Maybe they have to be high to cover rental (high in London) and staff wages etc. Vets in London might have several staff and they also have a shop, a bit like a pet shop to increase takings.

I feel that if I walk through the door of a veterinarian's clinic, I am going to come away a lot less well off!

Hundred of pounds can be spent quite easily on what seem to be the simplest of things.

My lady cat had a slightly sore bottom and her hair was matted around there (she is almost semi-long haired and very dense haired).

They checked her out, put some ointment on and shaved her rear end (poor thing) and it cost £200, which $309 (USD) or $343 (Australian).

This puts me off going and that is not good as it can have a negative impact on cat health.

I am sure that a substantial percentage of cat keepers put off going to the vet because of the cost.

Michael Avatar

Feb 20, 2010 Vets
by: Bob

I'm fortunate to have two very good and reasonable vets nearby. However, I have also dealt with my local spay/neuter clinic for neuters and shots because they were considerably cheaper and performed the surgery just as well. I have had nothing but good experiences with them. There is a 24 hour emergency vet nearby, and my two experiences with them could not have been worse. The first time was when Zombie had trouble urinating. I immediately thought of how life threatening this could get if his bladder were to burst. They told me he was blocked and needed an $800 operation. My paycheck went in literally two days later, but they wouldn't work with me. So I gave them everything I had in my account to put a catheter in and drain his bladder to buy me those two days. Instead of going back to them, I went to one of the local vets. He examined Zombie and told me that it was a good thing I didn't get the operation done because it wasn't what he needed. What they diagnosed as blockage from crystals was actually a bacterial infection. He gave me two medications for Zombie, charged me $80 for the visit AND medication, and my kitty was fine. The second experience with them was the day after I had brought El Ray to the vet, who had given him a dose of Profender (worm medication) that is applied to the neck, like a flea medication. The next morning, El Ray was lethargic, salivating excessively, shivering, and he seemed dizzy. I didn't want to wait for the vet to open, so I took him to the emergency vet. First, they argued with me that Profender could not be a worm medication, because it was applied to the neck. They told me only flea meds were put there. Then they proceeded to tell me a list of problems that he had, and a list of prices. I took my cat and left. By then, it was close to time for the regular vet to open. He showed me the MSDS sheet on the medication he used on El Ray, which said there were reactions in a small percentage of cats tested and listed EVERY symptom El Ray showed. They gave him a shot to counteract it and kept him overnight for observation with no charge since it was due to the meds. The next day, he was fine. I don't know why I even went to that emergency vet, but I do know I'll never go back.

Feb 19, 2010 Clinics and traveling clinics
by: Joyce Sammons

I'm fortunate to live in an area that has a traveling pet clinic. The vet travels from place to place on a rotating schedule. You can call his phone number or check the signs he posts before his next visit. Since he doesn't have the overhead of an office he can make vaccinations available at about half the cost of an office visit. I've taken pets to him and he's fast, friendly and affordable. This would be a great way for a new vet to begin a practice if there are no traveling vets in an area.

Also in my area is the Spay and Neuter Clinic next door to the Greenwood, SC Animal Shelter. They offer low cost surgery by appointment only. I had the pleasure of dealing with them Wednesday when Furby had his neuter surgery. I had him there at 7:30 a.m. and picked him up at 4:30 p.m.

The staff was very friendly and welcomed each animal and tagged the carrier. I had checked with a local vet who was going to charge $80 for the surgery alone. For $83 Furby had his surgery, all tests inluding FeLV/ Feline Aids. He had all shots including FeLV since he tested negative. He also had his ears treated for that nasty ear mite problem we've been dealing with and they sent home medicine to put in his ears next week. Last of all they trimmed his toenails. WHY DON'T PEOPLE DO THIS INSTEAD OF DECLAWING?! He was slipping off every chair he tried jumping on until he got used to it.

Guess I'll close for now. Furby making a racket in the bathroom so I need to see what he's gotten into this time.

Feb 19, 2010 Vet Prices
by: Gail (Boston, MA USA)

Vet prices in the U.S.A. are astronomically high as well. Emergency visits are usually double the standard fee and holiday emergencies are higher still.

At the behest of President Obama, there is a bill working its way through Congress currently to allow a percentage of vet bills to be tax deductions. According to the president, he feels that people of lesser means would be more apt to see a vet more frequently if they knew they'd have a deduction (like healthcare costs). We'll see.

I don't see vet prices being regulated here anytime soon. The only other alternative is to speak with friends/neighbors about their experience. Perhaps you may find another vet who gives quality service at better prices. That's how I found my current vet around the corner. A neighbor recommended him. Unlike the previous vet who worked in a modern chain "teaching" hospital, the new vet took over a private practice from a retired vet, has only one other doctor and minimal staff. Their concentration is on the animal and they consult with the human about costs prior to service. The downside is if there is a real emergency and they are closed, they refer you to the hospital mentioned above who is staffed 24/7 like a real trauma unit. If it's a true emergency, though, at least that is peace of mind.

Feb 19, 2010 Vet prices
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

Hi Maggie. I'm actually not that shocked about the prize of AU$ 110 (= US$ 98). Just crossing the vets doorstep usually cost the same here even during regular hours... 😉
If I understand you correctly, the vet had to be called from his home to come to the clinique after-hours - and that never comes cheep. I reckon vets too appreciate free time with their family and so set the prize high in order to avoid calls that can be dealt with during normal practice hours. The emergency animal hospital of Copenhagen too, charges double-up in the evenings and during weekends.
I can't say whether the Australian vet prices are fair or not, as it depends on the general price level where you live. What is the price of a standard vet appointment compared to what you have to pay a contractor to have a licenced electrician fix a minor problem? And he too might charge one hour even if it only takes 5 minutes to fix a fuse...
Insurance could be the solution, but like Michael I'm a bit sceptical about that. I would prefer saving my money in a jar for upcoming vet bills instead of feeding the insurrance company.

Feb 19, 2010 Problems
by: Michael

This is a good question, Maggie, and the answer is a hard one. There is always pet health insurance but I don't really like insurance as it is not cheap and the question is, "will you end up better off?" I doubt it. If your cat is very healthy you will lose out. If your cat is very sick you might gain over paying straight vet's bills but there are some pretty shady terms and conditions in pet insurance.

Treating cats ourselves is unwise, of course, unless it is the basics. Actually breeders sometimes treat their cats like a vet (this is based on my reading of USA breeder's forums)

I sense that a lot of people put off going to the vets because of the prices. This is bad for cats and vets are meant to be doing good things for cats so high prices damages the health of cats, I say.

But vets are entirely a business. We can sometimes forget that. And veterinarians are well trained people who believe that they deserve to earn a damn good wage so the charges are high.

And they do have pretty high overheads too.

The only way to improve things is for the state (governments) to create a social fund that extends to veterinarian bills when it is a necessity. But in truth there is little chance of that. Not enough people really care for cat and dog companions to agree to taxes supporting a fund to help people pay vet's fees.

Vets sell pet food to make more money. I say this is a bad idea.

Michael Avatar

2 thoughts on “Vet Prices Are Too High”

  1. Vets are garbage in 40 years of dealing with these creeps I can be honest is saying if you in your lifetime find one that puts an animal before money you are very lucky. it is time now to march against this high cost. They do not know what they want you to think that they know and bury their mistakes. Animals have no rights unless an owner has a large pocket purse and if you do not have 1000 dollars they show you the doodr and lets that animal suffer, it is a 96 percent mark up so it time to march and if you want to join this march call and leave your number at 718 426 1896

    • Yes, vets in some countries can be too commercial. A vet can’t be too commercially orientated because it will negatively affect the treatment he gives his patients. In the UK vets seem to be less commercial especially the independent vets (i.e. not part of a big chain). Thankfully my vet is very good. Excellent service and the prices are reasonable. I live in London, England by the way.


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