The Cost of Veterinary Medicine

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Dr. Rob


The Cost of Veterinary Medicine

This next post was inspired through my interactions with our Facebook followers. A recurring theme that pops up on the site (and in my private practice as well) is the exceptional cost of veterinary medicine.

Many people feel that they are limited in the care that they can provide to their pets due to rising veterinary costs.  Many have posted that they feel that their veterinarians are greedy and often run “unnecessary ” tests to drive up the costs of their veterinary visit.  They are denied prescriptions for medicines and care for their pets if they don’t follow veterinary recommendations regarding diagnostics and treatments.   Veterinarians are called cruel for denying care to a sick animal because their owners cannot afford the care or refuse the care that is deemed necessary by their vet.

The first thing that strikes me from all of this is that, in my opinion, the traditional relationship between veterinarian and pet owner has soured a bit.  We are, it seems, a long way from the James Herriot days of veterinary medicine.  Over the last decade or so there has been a dramatic increase in the availability of testing, specialty facilities (which rival top human hospitals in the diagnostics and care available for their patients), and equipment available to the general practitioner to help him/her in treating and diagnosing their patients (ultrasound, surgical lasers, digital x-ray, dental x-ray machines, flexible endoscopy, anesthetic monitoring equipment etc.).

These diagnostic and treatment modalities are invaluable in providing information to the veterinarian and in allowing us to diagnose and to treat patients that in the past would have been treated blindly, left undiagnosed, or even euthanized.  Veterinary students are introduced to these advanced diagnostics and treatments in school nowadays, and the approach of a veterinarian towards his patient is expected to be on par with that of physicians in the human medical field; however, these diagnostic and treatment modalities come at a cost. A typical ultrasound used in private practice can run in excess of $50,000.  An MRI machine, expected at any specialty facility, can run several million.  If a veterinarian is to have these pieces of equipment available for her patients then someone must pay for it.

Perhaps the single most influential force driving up veterinary costs is the school debt that a veterinarian now graduates with.  In 2010, for example, the average veterinarian graduated with over $138,000 in student loans (VIN NEWS Service).  That debt is growing exponentially.  It is not uncommon at all for us to have a recent grad tell us when applying for a job that they are $200-300.00 in debt.  Incidentally, the average veterinary salary during that same year of 2010 was $67,000 (VIN NEWS SERVICE).

Veterinarians are not immune to other rising costs that are crippling most businesses in this tough economy.  Rising fuel costs, the exploding costs of providing healthcare to employees, food costs, taxes, supplies, and prescription costs all cut dramatically into a veterinarian’s profit margin.  Veterinarians are also well aware of rising unemployment and have seen many of their previously solvent clients now unable to pay bills.  People, in this economy, are reluctant to get new pets and are taking their existing pets to the veterinarian less frequently.

In addition, there has been an explosion of online pharmacies.  In 2010 PetMeds alone reported sales of $238 Million.  This was $238 million dollars taken directly out of veterinary practices.  Large companies like this buy products in huge bulk, often illegally, and receive huge discounts unavailable to the local veterinarian.  When a veterinarian loses revenue through pharmacy sale losses, they must make up this income by raising other costs like exam fees or diagnostics.  The money simply has to come from somewhere.

Most clients who argue that the cost of veterinary medicine is too high do not even take steps to help lower their own costs.  Greater than 90% of pet owners do not own pet insurance for their pets even though costs are typically very low (around $50/month) and some plans pay up to 90% of costs when the animal is sick.  There is usually a scramble to get the insurance once the pet is sick. Rightfully so,  just as if someone was trying to buy fire insurance after their house burned down, they are not able to do so.  When clients complain about costs, there are a variety of other options such as Care Credit where a client can receive interest free credit cards for their pet’s care.  Often times this option is not enough to satisfy the disgruntled client.  It is not that they want time to pay for the care, they simply are unable to or don’t feel that they should have to pay for the care.   Similarly, there are often low cost clinics and shelters where people can take their pets if they have real financial burdens.  Many times clients will object to the drive to get to one of these clinics or the wait times once there.

In defense of the disgruntled client, there are bad veterinarians just as there are bad people in any profession.  I have often seen tests run unnecessarily.  I have seen bills run up.  I have seen animals hospitalized who clearly did not need to be and animals operated on who did not have to be.  I can tell you horror stories that rival the worst dishonest auto mechanic (no knock on the auto mechanics!).  The over-vaccination and early pushing of spaying and neutering, still prevalent in a lot of veterinary practices, is a driving force for this very website; however, for the most part, I feel that veterinarians are good people who care deeply about the animals that they are treating and try their hardest to be fair and honest.

I strive my best each and every day to treat people’s pets as if they were my own.  I try to present all of the options to my clients.  There is usually an “A plan” and a “B plan”, and I do my best to present them both to the client.   We work every day trying to provide the best care that is possible within an owner’s budget.  We have also done our fair share of charity work over the years and have rescued literally thousands of strays and treated them for free.

It is imperative that you develop this type of relationship with your veterinarian.  When your veterinarian recommends testing or hospitalization, you should have the utmost confidence that that is what needs to be done.  You should feel that there is an open dialogue with your veterinarian and that you are free to ask questions.  You should feel that you are intimately involved in the process of diagnosing and treating your pet.  If you are uncomfortable, keep looking until you find the veterinarian that you implicitly trust.  You will find him or her.

Should anyone be allowed to own a pet regardless of their income?  Should a veterinarian, who is running a business, be obligated to take care of a pet if the owner cannot afford care?  Should the owner of that pet be forced to relinquish that pet if services are rendered for free?  Are we in a better place today then we were 20 years ago?  Your questions and comments below.




  1. Your article presented some excellent points. One way to keep costs contained in my opinion would be to treat some ailments such as urinary tract infections blindly. Examine a urine sample, prescribe a broad spectrum antibiotic and test the urine again right before the end of the course of antibiotics. If the urine is fine and symptoms are gone, that’s all that’s needed. It is not necessary to do a urine culture for the first episode IMO. Also, consider the age, condition and suspected diagnosis before undergoing extensive testing. If the dog is old and a mass on the liver is found on ultrasound, why biopsy it? If blood and urine tests show that a dog is experiencing kidney problems, does it really matter what the exact type of kidney problem is? Wouldn’t the supportive care for kidney problems be similar no matter what the diagnosis is? If a veterinarian suspects there is nothing that can be done to “cure” the dog of a condition, why undergo extensive testing when the outcome will probably be the same? I understand that from an intellectual viewpoint, a professional would want to know the exact diagnosis but in many instances, that knowledge won’t help to cure the problem. In my opinion, chemotherapy and radiation are a very inexact science in dogs at this point. Will the extra six months of life be of good quality? Also, preventative dental care has become so costly yet it is so important to the animal’s health. It is hard for owner’s to pay $400.00 a year for dental cleaning. I realize the dog must be sedated but that is more than my dentist charges for a cleaning on a person. I feel we are not in a better place today than we were 20 years ago. A veterinarian should be able to offer “comfort care” for anyone’s dog with small monthly payments. Good homes are difficult to find for dogs and cats. If the owner provided a good home – the animal is in healthy weight, is socialized and loved, clean and well-groomed, he should not be forced to relinquish the pet if services are rendered for free. IMO, small monthly payments should be expected by the caregiver or bartering for cleaning, painting, lawn care, etc. if possible.

    • Angry Vet says:

      Your approach is solid and in most cases is exactly the way i would practice. Age, history, first time episodes are all valuable pieces of the puzzle and an experienced clinician will not test in these instances. However there are mistakes in your post that exactly point out why the veterinarian is needed. An educated owner cannot replace the veterinarians education and diagnostics. For example, NO not all kidney problems are treated the same. A kidney infection for example which may have a normal urinalysis and a negative culture will look very difficult on an ultrasound . A kidney infection can be cured with antibiotics. Other forms of kidney disease cannot be cured…simply managed. Why biopsy a liver? Because treatment options and even cures are completely different based upon what the results of the biopsy are. A good clinician is not out to gouge you . We are out to use the minimal testing (which in some circumstances is completely necessary and helpful) to provide the best outcome for your pet.

      • Ron says:

        I took my cat in yesterday for what i expect is heat ehaustion…he had a temperature. Vet made us pay $400 and on top of that made my wife hold the cat down while the doc took an anal temperature and my wife was bitten by the cat. Dont they have employees for this? And why did i have to pay before services rendered? Same thing happened to my other cat…they had me keep the cat in the clinic, ran up a $100 not trustingy0 bill over 2 days, then the cat died anyway. ofcourse i still had to pay. I DO NOT RRUST VETS. They started it….by not trusting us and making us pay before treatment. This place has no expensive equipment to pay for…Im supposed to get kanchya back at 10am and he better be ok. if not, im going to LOOSE IT!

        • Ron says:

          not 100 dollars….a Thousand dollars!

          • cat says:

            you should do a little research before just taking pets to any vet. i recently had to take my bunny to the vet for his ear infection. the vet i called said he was an “exotic” animal and just getting him looked at was going to be $400. but then i kept calling and i found one for $60. you have to be careful.

        • kathy says:

          Sadly a lot of places will take payment prior to treatment The old addage of a few rotten eggs ruining it for everyone else. The veterinary field has some of the worse non payment rates so to be able to get by a lot have to put safe guards in place. Although there will always be a few professionals out there for the money the vast majority of clinicians got into the job to help animals. Looking at similar levels in other fields e.g dentist or doctors; vets earn substantially less. Trust me, if they were in it for the money they’d have chosen a different career to begin with! I appreciate things get emotional when your pets are involved but do you really think your vet intentionally set out to rip you off or hurt your pet? No – they are putting your animal first and in all likelyhood actually undercharging. Look up equivolent costs in human medicine. That will truly shock you.

          • phil says:

            My cat threw up every couple of days so i took him to a pet hospital where a x ray was taken and the Vet. Said he saw a shadow which could be Cancer.
            Of course I’d do what i could for my cat well being.
            The exploratory surgery show no cancer. The cutting damaged a nerve in my cats leg leaving a limp seven years later. Oh yeh the good part the surgery and sray cost me $5,000.
            Most workers haven’t had a raise in 15 years but god forbid if some vets don’t keep with inflation.

          • Angry Vet says:

            that sounds pretty horrible and I am truly sorry. To put some perspective on this however I would offer this. You are complaining about a one time $5000 bill which sounds high, especially considering the outcome as you have described, but understand that my new associate veterinarian has school loan payments of $4000 A MONTH! Each and every month. Her salary cannot come close to allowing her to make these payments. There truly is a crisis here

        • Simone says:

          Why would you think you didn’t have to pay for services rendered because your cat (sadly) passed away anyhow? Doesn’t the vet still deserve to be compensated for his time?

          • Dan says:

            Sounds an awful lot like The Angry Vet is awfully good at justifying over charging. Let’s be real here. Vets don’t only over charge, they way over charge. The average vet put 100% to 150% mark up on all their supplies which is a rip off right there. They will also always recommend unnecessary test for their benefit(Money), not the pet. Your school loans are not the publics problem, that’s your problem. You would gain more revenue and patients if you charge reasonable fees and give quality care. I promise your revenue stream would grow without you continuing to screw the public and their pets out of much needed care. A doctors first duty is help patients and money should be the last concern but here in the USA it’s all about the money. I bet those fees pay for your luxury car, your 4000 square foot house, and ultimately i would wager a pretty nice life style. Has anyone ever seen a broke doctor weather humans or pets? Nope! Never! Truth is the billing by vets is more about living a certain lifestyle and a whole lot less about school loans! If we are gonna tell the truth lets tell it and not sugar coat your excuses for over charging.

        • Deborah Andrle says:

          Wow. This is a much bigger problem than I ever dreamed. What is to be done about it? My own nightmares with vets seem silly compared to the stories I have read. Something must, has to be done. Time for some regulations.

          • Deborah Andrle says:

            What about buying meds online? For example, I needed meds that cost $60.00 online, $100.00 at one vet, and $150 at another vet. In my small town, $50.00 is charged for a physical. All they do is squeeze around on their stomach and fluff their hair. I have to ask them to look at their mouth and ears. I think overcharging is an issue. I know I have been charged for tests that were never run to the tune of $450.00. I have proof. I also have a master’s degree, and you will get no sympathy from me about student loans. That is the individual’s responsibility. Suck it up. I am not going to a vet to pay for their student loans.

          • Cathy says:

            I’m still paying off a CareCredit vet bill from 2014, which resulted in both of my babies dying within days. Since then, thanks to research on alternative health I have saved others of my feline family who would have likewise died. I have a little girl who last year went downhill fast, stopped eating suddenly, and her urine was bright orange. So I said here we go, a liver problem. I found a website of a girl who had successfully treated a much younger kitty with liver disease, who was also given a death sentence after a huge bill for diagnostic services. Do you know what she did? She used milk thistle with an electrolyte every 10 minutes — yes, it’s a lot of work — her kitty lived. So I did that, plus I used colloidal silver, which I make because it is truly remarkable. I used baby food, syringe fed. Do you know that within 24 hours she was no longer urinating orange and no longer outside of the pan. Within another day she was eating and drinking on her own. This was well over a year ago. I’m not ready to say good-bye to my little girl. I have had other losses, but those losses I now know no vet could have done better. And I keep learning.

            My little Sam was on the brink of death from renal failure. She went to the vet once, but nothing that they gave me really helped, so I did research. She was with me for over 7 more years with a combo of grain-free and the elimination of any food with corn in it, plus Epakatin everyday and other herbal formulas for kitty health. The day I lost her she was 19 years of age, and she went quietly. I couldn’t ask for a greater gift.

            I could tell many more stories. My little grey boy that died in 2013 of what was diagnosed as liver disease I had no knowledge about colloidal silver, or that you could make it yourself.

            I keep reading horror stories of people that go to the vet, come out with huge bills and either it ends in death or they take their pet home, because after the diagnostic tests and the huge bill there is just some expensive antibiotics and no hope. They don’t give up. They start doing research, and they win.

            A long, long time ago I remember when I was able to work with vets and their goodness was beyond compare. What I don’t understand is why vets do not have the knowledge of products that owners are finding work 100%. Why are vets giving prescription diets that have corn products in them?

            I have been amazed sometimes by what I have been able to do through prayer, faith and the use of all the natural things that God has put on this earth to help the animals who have shared my life.

            And like one person said CareCredit is not really the answer. It’s credit and it’s expensive if you can’t pay within 6 months. Pet insurance for multiple pets also is not the answer.

            BTW, with advent of health insurance being pushed big is when I noticed vet costs zoomed, just like human health insurance. Really makes you wonder.

      • Andrea says:

        You’re an idiot.

  2. Nancy Stock says:

    Great post.
    I was a dairy farmer for 20 years and developed a fantastic relationship with my vet clinic who I use to this day. They offer 24 hour service due to the large animal practice and their veterinarians are truly excellent and the senior partners are gifted surgeons who do not automatically refer the patient to some high end specialist. They do it all.. maybe because when you are on a farm with a 1500 pound cow and the farmer as an assistant you HAVE to do it.
    I do all I can to support them.. and a number of their clients actually donate money (no tax write off) so they CAN help someone who is a good owner but not wealthy enough to support emergency care that will clearly extend an animals life and relieve suffering. I also try my best to buy my animals’ drugs from them as I know the animal pharmacy is a source of income (heartworn, flean and tick as well as Rx).

    That being said, I have been told I am also somewhat unique in that I go the extra mile to fully understand my animals (now dogs and cats.. no farm animals) and fully understand their ailments and treatments.

    I am realistic about how much I will do and realistic about costs. I will not spend thousands on an elderly animal just to get a few more months (the money is better put into a new rescue or given to the shelter). I will not spend thousands on a seemingly lost cause either. We understand this (my vets and I) and we have cried over the passing of more than one animal.

    I suspect that, having been a successful farmer I am also in a unique position to understand the cost of overhead and running a business.

    As to college cost… when I retired from Dairy farming I looked at going to vet school and being in my mid 40′s I could not make the money work. I figured by the time I had student loans paid off, I would be ready to retire.

    I have had pet insurance.. but with multiple pets (4 cats and 2 dogs) the cost was truly too high. I have a Credit card with a high limit.. but I also have limits on how much I will spend.

    • Ginny Ranella says:

      It’s unfortunate that you couldn’t afford to become a Vet after your years of experience as a farmer. After reading your post I can tell that you would have been a really good one.

  3. Linda Legere says:

    You make some good points. I do believe that vets are caught up in a dilemma caused by a shift in societal values: I have noticed a distinct separation between pet owners. To oversimplify a bit, there are those who own working animals and livestock (or used to and are of the ‘old school’), and those who have one or two small animals strictly as coddled pets. I do see that some well to do coddled-pet owners would want to have all the latest technology to diagnose their pets. Most of us rural animal keepers, as much as we love our dogs, cannot afford this and cannot go to heroic measures if some major disease is found. I would love to see the return of the vet that used to come out and treat our large animals and would bring along real raw bones for the dogs and give them a rabies shot when needed. The cost of the visit was x cents a mile from the previous farm and a small call fee, plus supplies and meds. Nowadays, if I tell the vet that my dog sleeps outside he wants to treat him with chemicals because he ‘could get fleas’, plus he makes me feel like an abuser for letting the dog act like a dog (herding dogs have to be around livestock even if they might get stepped on). It now seems impossible to have a ‘relationship’ with the vet unless your pet is very ill and being treated agressively. I cannot afford to take the dog to the vet just so I can keep in touch.
    It hasn’t always been this way. I once had a vet in my barn, pressing her face into the neck of a horse with her arm thrown over the mare’s mane. Tears poured down the vet’s face. She held the syringe in her hand, loaded and ready to euthanize the horse. She said, “I can’t do it”. This was a 28 year old mare suffering from Red Maple poisoning –our pony had already died of it (due to misdiagnosis/delayed treatment by another on call vet) and we didn’t want the old mare to suffer, but she seemed to be perking up. The vet ended up telling me she was just 10 mins away and would come right over if needed at any time of the day or night, but to wait for now because old Chipper might just make it through this. Well, that faithful mare went on to live another six years, participating happily in PonyClub with young riders until the week she died. On the other hand, if the game warden caught a dog chasing deer he was required to shoot him and, as sad as it was, we all felt he was justified in doing so –people had to train and care for their own animals — not by brushing their teeth and filling them with chemical ‘remedies’, but by feeding them well and teaching them to respect other animals and people. Veterinary science has come a long way, but we have lost the code of personal responsibility that animal owners used to share.
    Sorry to go on so long, but there is one other group of pet owners I have not mentioned. There are those who cannot afford to care for themselves, yet think they should have pets around just for their own enjoyment. They seem to feel entitled to subsidized veterinary care. I imagine that these are the ones who wonder why vets are so ‘mean’ not to provide free care for their sickly animals.

  4. Ellen says:

    Physicians can put the cost of equipment on patients since they usually have insurance. Pet insurance may average $50, but gets higher with multiple pets, and that first $50 isn’t always affordable. That doesn’t make me a bad owner, just one that doesn’t make that kind of money and prefers to spend the dogs’ budget on good foods, like supreme quality dog food and raw. Their supplements and fish oil aren’t cheap, either. And, we have to eat ourselves and the cost of that and heating oil is through the roof.

    There is something to be said here about volume of clients. You really don’t have to bang everyone that comes through the door if you have a generous clientele. All of us will be able to pay off your school loans eventually, but we have some of our own to get to first, and some of us have been laid off after many years at a job.

    My vet (currently but not for much longer) does not take Care Credit, makes no payment plans unless you can put down at least half, does not come to the home, does not belong to any participating groups for discounted spay and neuter, but has a beautiful new pharmacy in the renovated house that is the waiting room with flat screen TV, exam rooms, back rooms and kennels. They push early spay, unnecessary, non-core vaccines and will agree to titers if YOU request them. I hate to see what they’ll charge for those if they decide to invest in a VacciCheck. They have no clue about raw and I was lectured once by one of the partners.

    So, if I have an emergency with no funds, first I’m sent to the “area emergency clinic” because there are no after hours at this vet, and then I’m stuck making a painful decision if nobody wants to make a payment deal – or I get to beg online with a ChipIn to save my animal’s life.

    Holistic vets charge more, so even though I would love to go to one, I cannot afford it, but may have to save up to start a new relationship with someone who cares about my animals the way that I do.

    I agree, the cost of veterinary care is almost unaffordable and does not promote preventive care at all, and makes profits look much better than helping people keep their pets. I actually read a while back that the Veterinary Medical Society was the one proposing to vets to stop taking deposits on care and proud that they won that one…

    • Angry Vet says:

      Ellen, some of you problems with your vet sound more like you’ve got issues with the way they practice more than the cost of service – of course any amount spent on a service you don’t think is good is too much!! Care Credit can be a bit tricky. I used it to pay for my daughter’s dental work ($9500!!) and I did like it, so I started to offer it at our office. It does come at a steep price for the practice though. In order to provide a client with time periods of no interest there is a fee to the practice – the longer the interest free period the higher the cost to the practice – it can go up to 10-15% I believe – maybe higher. The profit margin in most offices (the money we make as income after expenses are paid) is about 20% in well run practices so using the method of payment has a negative side for the practice as well as a positive one. The bottom line is that the cost of doing business is very high these days – even when I go over these numbers with staff members they are surprised at how much money we spend to keep the doors open.

      • JANET DARLINGTON says:


      • I am in total agreement with you, Angry Vet! It actually makes me angry when I see what Care Credit charges. I have looked into providing it, but feel it would be leading my clients in a bad direction as it is very costly, and I would have to bump their prices 10% to recover lost revenue. I love to help my clients, but I just don’t think digging them into a deeper hole is really “helping”. They would be much better off having a Visa or Discover card set aside for such emergency times!

  5. Jane says:

    I think your points are pretty accurate. I would add that it is the owner’s responsibility to question their vet, politely. For instance, if the vet recommends a test, it is the owner’s responsibility to ask why. If the test is to confirm cancer, and the owner wouldn’t treat the cancer, is the test really necessary? Of course, in this scenario, if there is a reasonable possibility that the test could also determine if it is a more treatable and more benign condition, then it might make sense.
    I do disagree somewhat about the pet health insurance. Although I think that pet health insurance is improving some as more insurers have entered the market, in many cases it doesn’t pay for itself. There is much fine print and many exclusions and limitations. For instance, for my greyhound, who I got at 5 years old in 2008, the quoted insurance rate was $150 to $200 a month. This included an extra cancer rider, which I wanted because bone cancer is common in greyhounds. It did not include any preventative care. For my other two dogs (not greyhounds) the rate was quite high with many exclusions. Of course I adopted them in 1996, when VPI was the only game in town. I elected to put that money into a bank account and save it for a rainy day. I did this for all 3 of my dogs. Unluckily, my greyhound did develop bone cancer just two years after I adopted him. I treated with amputation and chemotherapy. I also treated with a metronomic protocol (about $120 a month) and we got almost two years more. One of my other dogs developed lymphoma and subsequent kidney failure. She received a few months of Wisconsin CHOP chemo and then we went to leukeran. In addition to these issues, I also had to do two cruciate repairs, 7 injuries that required anesthesia, at least 10 ultrasounds, etc. My point is that these dogs got all the care they needed. My out of pocket for all this stuff (especially the greyhound) was more than my savings. So I decided to research what insurance would have paid. Because of the limits and the deductibles, I actually saved over $6000 by just saving the money. However, I did lose money on the greyhound because he cost me $13000 for cancer treatment just two years after I got him. I had $5000 in the bank for his care ($200 per month plus interest). But even with the cancer rider, with the limits, deductibles and exclusions insurance only would have paid $7000. So I “lost” $2000 on this dog, but made $4000 on my other dogs. My point is, if you are willing to save the amount of your premiums, and not touch it, you will come out ahead over time. However, if something happens before you have built up your nest egg, and you do not have the ability to find money elsewhere, you will be in trouble. So if you don’t have good cash flow, pet health insurance can be a godsend.
    Lastly, I want to comment on the fees that vets charge. It seems that in the past (30 years ago), vets subsidized more expensive procedures with the routine procedures. For instance, the huge markup on medications allowed them to reduce the price on a necessary, but expensive procedure. This allowed their patients to receive care when it was critical, even though the cost would normally be very high. Of course, I don’t know this for a fact, it just seems to me to be the case. Now, with the advent veterinary pharmacies and the increased use of human meds, the vet can no longer rely on this income. With the increase of low cost vet clinics who provide basic care (shots, yearly exam) full service veterinarians will soon not be able to rely on making money off these procedures. Combine that with advances in veterinary care and increased expectations of the owners, full service vets offices now have to have more advanced equipment. This all leads to an exponential increase in the cost of veterinary services.
    Because my dogs are treated like children, I am very thankful for the advances in veterinary care. I fully understand that other people wouldn’t pay $13000 for an average expected additional life of 14 months, but for me it was worth it. And I was lucky, I got two years. I wouldn’t have had this opportunity 5 to 10 years ago.

    • Angry Vet says:

      Jane, well written and very insightful. While I do think that insurance does help many times there are definitely “fine print” times when it is quite annoying. As far as a decrease in pharmacy income leading to an increase in service based income – very true! I’m a third generation vet and my generation came out of school as this was all happening. To be fair, I do not have much of a problem with the way things are now. I didn’t spent 8 years in college and vet school to make my living selling products. I much prefer to provide the best care and veterinary expertise that I can for my patients/clients and receive proper fees for that rather than large mark-ups on products.

  6. txchick57(?) says:

    How well I remember the time I had to scramble and sell everything I could get my hands on to pay for cancer treatment for my dog. Not treating wasn’t even a consideration. Now I have insurance. The costs now are truly frightening (I don’t blame veterinarians for this). My cat is going on Monday to have his teeth worked on. Estimate: $800 and that’s if nothing goes wrong.

  7. Susan Mann says:

    One question I usually ask about any diagnostics is if it will change the course of treatment. For instance, Arie had a toe injury, diagnosed by ultrasound (that we probably didn’t need, since the vet was able to diagnose by palpation, but we did need the u/s of her shoulder) and an xray was recommended, which I declined.

    My personal opinion is that I don’t want to deal with a very “corporate” practice, which seem to have higher overheads, including more personnel not directly involved in providing care -which is also why I work for a small community hospital, rather than the larger systems which are around (I’m an RN.)

    • Lauren says:

      a toe injury diagnosed by ultrasound… weird but I guess we don’t use our ultrasound that way. That would of been more of an xray to see the break, or swelling, or no break at all.
      Some vets will want to do things that are unnecessary..

    • Angry Vet says:

      this is an instance where IMO a veterinarian misused a test to pay for the test. There is NO instance where an ultrasound would be required to diagnose a malignancy in a toe!

  8. Margaret Rancourt says:

    I think the article presents its points well as do the people who have posted thoughtful responses. I am fortunate to have an excellent vet who explains everything to me and answers all of my questions. If she doesn’t know, she consults with the local specialists because she’s a lifelong learner as well. It’s an individual decision as to what care and how much one can afford for their pets. I have a giant breed so everything is exponentially expensive. I’ve made tough decisions along the way but foremost in every single one was the quality of life for my dogs, not what I wanted. Thank you for the dialogue.

  9. Altina says:

    Dr. Rob,
    You said it very well, I try to treat all my patients as if they were my own and all my clients as friends and family. It has come back to bite me when the client takes advantage of my compassion and stiffs me on the bill. I have a very well equiped clinic, which means I have made a lot of investments in equipement and training. I do not recommend anything I do not think is necessay in the diagnosis or treatment, I do not push treatments or food yet I have been acused of all of the above, my advice is practice what you believe and keep on plugging away. A core of good clients will stand by you and support you. I won’t ever be rich in money but I think I can count most of my clients as friends and that is what it is all about!

  10. sally says:

    I see too many caring owners with limited funds of senior or animals with diseases are not offered euthanisia as part of the equation. Owner is pressured to feel the only option is spend money. I understand many people can and do opt for extension.

    The others who cannot afford extras, but diligently went for the yearly exam, have no option but take the pet to the animal shelter. Sad for the animal, sad for the owner and sad for the shelter staff who is now stuck making a difficult decision.

    What happened to …. “A. We can make your pet comfortable for $$. B. You can do that for $$$ or *C. We can euthanize your pet for $.”

    The outcome is the same. The animal is better off with it’s family in the end whether it is in two years or next week.

  11. Lauren says:

    Heres an important thing to remember.. any of you not have health insurance? Well if you have or had not Im sure you remember the prices of any Dr visit or prescription to your human dr. I sure do! And I am still paying off my $2500 root canal! That was discounted!
    Yes there are vets out there that run every test in the book or try to take your money. But most vets do what is best for your dog/cat/animal. Not what they need to do to make a buck. The pharmaceutics are becoming more and more expensive also.
    Most people get a pet not realizing the cost of actually owning it, getting annual or even puppy vaccines. And god forbid if something goes wrong.
    Medicine is expensive human or animal. If you can’t afford to take care of yourself do not get a pet!
    Ask questions, know why your doing it. Don’t skip on things that will actually save you money in the long run, like blood tests, or an xray that is needed.
    Simple things like preventing fleas, keeping your dog a good weight, feeding it a good food (not beneful!), and brushing its teeth, walking everyday, joint supplements, etc. Those things will save everyone money but its just a “DOG” to some people. So you ask why did you bring it to the vet then, and then complain about your bill if its just a dog! Sorry somewhat of a vent but see it everyday. I lost my compassion for people who clearly have the money but won’t spend it on their pet. I do try to help everyone save money in everyway they can. Like buying heartworm prev in bulk or hey brush your dogs teeth and you wont need a dental. Even give people options to return to have another test done if the animal is not better. But when your pet can’t use a little of the money you have when it needs it then thats just wrong.

  12. Elle says:

    Where I live there is only one vet practice and many of the vets there are short termers. They have a new state of the art surgery and some of the best facilities money can buy. They are Pushers of early desexing and over immunising, but that is actually very necessary here due to the amount of Wild and Camp dogs and other animals with huge disease loads in this area. I will question everything they want to test and fight with them over being present for testing (I do not agree with animals being taken out the back for testing or treatment) I also get very tired of their Pushy beliefs. Their Prices are necessary to cover their costs and they need to provide all services as there are no other services available for over 1,000 Km (NOT an exaggeration). I do however drive for 2 days 1,500 km to see my vet who I trust and often come out to have saved money! I do not balk at paying for quality Pet care and help out many pensioners with the care of their dogs. The vet situation in this town is a constant talking point with locals and there is no easy answer to the problems. I would love to hear any suggestions. It is hard to blame the Vet for making costs so high perhaps we need the Insurance to be lower.

  13. Jennifer says:

    Good topic, and one that really needs to be discussed. If you feel your vet is overcharging and pushing unnecessary tests, you need to either sit down and have a long talk with your vet, or switch vets. I believe that the client-vet relationship should be one built on trust, and decisions about a pet’s health care should be based on an open dialogue and cooperative effort between the vet and the owner.

    Just because advanced diagnostics and treatment options are available does not mean they are appropriate for every pet (factors such as age, overall health status, and temperament need to be taken into account), or for every client (who may different in personal beliefs as well as budget). The only reasons to do an expensive diagnostic test are 1) if it is going to change the treatment plan, or 2) if the client needs and answer and just wants to know.

    As a vet, it is my job to discuss all the options with the client, and help them determine which is the best course for their pet and their situation. This includes presenting them with options ranging anywhere from “do everything medically possible” to ” do nothing” (as long as the pet is not suffering, in which case euthanasia may be advised over “do nothing”). It is up to the client to decide what is right for them, and not my job to judge.

    Along these same lines, I wanted to share this blog article:

    As well as this article comparing the costs of human medicine vs veterinary medicine. Instead of asking why vet med is getting so expensive, perhaps a better question is why have vets been charging so little for procedures that are essentially identical to ones done in human medicine for significantly more.

  14. Mike says:

    I had a great Vet for years, but when we moved we switched to someone closer.

    We had some bad experiences with the over charging and Vet’s who refused to recommend anything until they did every test in the book. Honestly I started to think it was just the way all Vet’s were where we moved to and was considering driving the 2 hours to our old place.

    Then we found our current practice that has 3 Vet’s, any of which I’m always happy to see. We got really lucky to find them and I’m with the other posters who said if you don’t like your current Vet, if you can – try and find a new one. They’re out there, you just have to find them.

  15. Angry Vet says:

    We are not seeking sycophants. There are many posts that disagree with points that we’ve made. Disagreements are expected. Disrespect is not. Not only are you being disrespectful to us but also our readers as you consider them mindless sycophants.

    • Angry Vet says:

      pearl sadly facebook is now closed entirely thanks to you. There has been an outpouring of support from people who understand what the site is about and want to contribute in a positive way. I cannot, however continue on facebook. There are a few people, like yourself, who have little or no interaction with the human world outside of the facebook bubble and fill their day fighting with people and venting their frustrations with life through a keyboard. Sorry, not for me. I am an extremely busy person with a rich and fulfilling life. I have a beautiful family, three thriving practices, and many friends. Angryvet was started as a service to the public and as a forum where I could help to educate people and to show them the other side of some issues in veterinary medicine to which they might not have been aware. It is a non-profit endeavor. I spend a ton of time on it, for no financial gain, only to be called greedy. Ironic, huh?

  16. British says:

    I agree with most of your points.
    But unfortunately, I also have to agree with people who say that some (!) vets are greedy. I experienced that myself just recently.
    Our cat needed surgery after a broken leg. There was not much time to make a choice, and we were simply referred to a vet, and the bill then came to £2.500 (surgery only, not the emergency visit and consultation, that was another £500). We were told that that included everything – the surgery, x-rays after a few weeks, and removal of an external fixator.
    Immediately after that, several other vets and also RSPCA people told us that that surgery should not have been more than £600, £700. There were no complications during surgery, nothing that would have justified that amount.
    When it was time for the check-up, they charged us £275 only for an x-ray! The same x-ray that our normal vet would have done for £75-90.
    How can prices be justified that are around 4 times higher than only a few miles away? £275 for a simple x-ray? That’s unbelievable.
    And how many people would have chosen amputation or even euthanasia instead of paying £2.500?
    I am sure that this is an exception and not the norm. But only a few bad eggs …

    • Angry Vet says:

      Thank you for your response. The answer to your question is that if you were referred to a referral hospital, all of the fees are higher because they are paying for all of the equipment, staffing (usually 24 hr) etc. and the physical size of the facility (higher energy costs, bigger rents or taxes, bigger expense to build etc). The equipment alone, as stated in the article, is crazy money, several millions for an MRI, for example. A top-notch referral practice has usually MRI, CT, Laser, Endoscopy, oncology and Radiation services, phacoemulsification equipment (along with many other ophtho diagnostics), fluoroscopy….the list goes on and on…

      With all of that said, I have stopped dealing with CERTAIN referral practices because the bills were becoming astronomical. It is a fine line for sure. We are, as general practitioners, sympathetic and empathetic (I couldn’t afford some of these bills either!) to your cause. Best of luck

      • British says:

        Thanks for your response, Angry Vet.
        I would say that with £275 (US$444) for a simple x-ray (one, not several!), the fine line is definitely crossed! And I would call that astronomical. Especially after we had been told that those costs were included in the original fee for the surgery.
        So I would say that his practice is definitely one of your “CERTAIN” referral practices. And it is those practices that give vets a bad name and are the reason for heated discussions and less and less people trusting their vet.

        • Ginny Ranella says:

          In 2012 you paid 2,500L for British Emergency Surgery care for your cat’s broken leg. In May of 2015, I paid $ 5,500 for my kittens leg break in two places. That did not include another 600.00 for pre and post surgery appointments. Ouch!

  17. Mary says:

    I go to a great Vet. I drive 8 mi each way to take my dogs there. I drive 20 mi each way to take one of my dogs to a dermatoligist and 20 mi each way to an emergency and specialty clinic when I need to. I worked as a Vet Tech in the 70′s at a very good hospital. Even then they asked for a deposit because so many animals were abandoned at Vet Clinics. One time a woman handed her diamond ring as a deposit until she could get to the bank.

    This year I have spent over $7,000 on my dogs for emergencies, dental specialists, tests and preventative care. There are Vets and emergency clinics closer that I tried over the years and decided they either were not competent or there fees were way to high for the quality of care my pets received. I have been going to my current Vet for 8 years.

    I have two 11 yr olds, so I’m in the geriatric stage with them and one 7 yr old who I adopted with skin and ear problems. Hah, I thought skin and ear problems were easy to treat. And yes, I tried raw, and the one with the skin problems had a pancreatic reaction and ended up in the hospital for three days on fluids.

    Right now I’m sitting here waiting for a phone call on one 11 yr old who is anemic and not eating. I’m dreading the diagnosis. They are doing an ultrasound. This is going to be a tough one. He is actually 11.5. I’m hoping it’s something treatable.

    Yes, owning a pet has gotten expensive. I guess it always was, but our dogs seemed healthier back then or we ignored a lot of problems and didn’t know about heart worms and never worried about yearly vaccinations. It’s just a reality now. If you get a pet, you have to budget for emergencies or buy insurance. I am thankfull for the good Vets out there.

    Great article Dr. Keep the information coming. We do appreciate it.

  18. LauraGr says:

    The cost of care is sometimes too high. My regular, that I have used for almost 20 years charges $500 to $1000 for canine dental cleanings. The lower end of the pricing is no extractions. They quoted me a price of $700 for a chryptorchid neutering of a 14 pound dachshund. A well-puppy visit and vax is over a hundred dollars.

    I am actually looking at changing vets because even though I have used them for decades, a recent problem has shattered my trust in their ability to care for my pets.

  19. Linda says:

    I moved three yrs ago and had to find a new vet. I went thru several before I found a vet I was comfortable with. Last year I had a 2k bill with him and he was kind enough to let me pay it off in three payments. In general, I am happy with his services. However, he never tells me beforehand about all the tests he is going to do. He takes my boy in a back room and just does the different tests and then the receptionist hands me a bill when I am ready to leave. I feel he should discuss with me what he is going to do and approximately how much it is going to cost, before doing it.

    • Angry Vet says:

      You should NEVER have any tests run without understanding why they are being run and you should ALWAYS be able to find out the price ahead of time. We ALWAYS give estimates and will ALWAYS call the owner to discuss if the bill is going to exceed the estimate to explain why.

  20. Julie says:

    This is a great discussion. IMO, the MOST important thing I want from my vet is a GOOD relationship with me. I want my vet to be willing to listen to my concerns and answer my questions and then work together with me to come up with a plan for my animal. If you have a good relationship with your vet, all else should come together just fine. I lost my job three years ago, and although I am lucky that I can freelance, I’m making nowhere near what I used to make. I explained that to my vet, and because we had a good relationship we were able to work things out when expensive treatments might have been needed. For example, the vet practice was willing to get me into a clinical trial for my dog with cancer, and when that fell through (trial closed to new patients the day before my appt at the referral hospital), the referral oncologist was still able to get me meds at no cost to me beyond shipping. (Interestingly, when I finally had ultrasound done at the specialty practice, it cost me $700 vs. the $300 my regular vet charged. I understand I’m paying for a specialist, but in that case, I might well have opted to let my regular vet do it, since we were simply looking for evidence of cancer metastasis.) But you have to be willing to ask and discuss things (and your vet has to be amenable to that). With any vet, I take the approach someone else mentioned here: Will the test change the course of treatment? Will the treatment improve the quality of life? Is a palliative care the best answer? I have had all of these discussions with my vet at one time or another. I have friends who feel they should never question a vet, but in my opinion, as my pet’s advocate, that’s exactly what I should be doing (and by question I don’t mean question motives, etc., but questions about your pet’s care, testing, prognosis, alternatives, etc.).

    I also read with interest the comments from the dairyman. I raise sheep, and by far my best experiences with vets have been with those who also have a large animal practice. I also believe it’s because vets have to be more pragmatic dealing with large animals and so maybe better understand when an owner needs to be pragmatic about a pet’s care. I think it’s a two-way street, though, because obviously the dairyman or the sheep farmer isn’t going to demand expensive diagnostics and procedures for livestock, largely because the tests, etc., are worth more than the animal.

    I have to save money where I can, and I don’t think insurance is useful if you have multiple animals (I have working dogs, including livestock guardians), but I also opted for CareCredit when I ended up going to the oncologist. I appreciate that vets will accept CareCredit (I even had to use it for a root canal for myself!), and also that the vets with whom I’ve been a long time client will let me make payments. I have used a low-cost spay/neuter clinic (and felt guilty about it), but honestly when you money is tight and you worry about paying the bills each month, the difference between a $75 spay and a $300 spay is significant. And I am guilty of buying some meds from less expensive sources (though, in most cases, I have asked my vet to write a prescription so it’s not as if he’s unaware–this is generally for meds that are for chronic conditions, like thyroxine and enalapril, that I can get locally for less from the pharmacy). That said, I think I more than make up for the loss to the vet practice by the sheer volume of business that I bring them because I have so many animals and they tend to need treatments that are not inexpensive. Again, though, these are all things I DISCUSS with my vet.

    It really comes down to developing a trust between you and your vet. I recently moved and have had a hard time finding a vet in my new location. They just don’t measure up to my old vet (but that practice is an hour and a half away and I really can’t afford to continue going there, though I did for about a year after I moved). I have recently changed vets and am working to build a relationship with the new vet. Hopefully I will be able to do that, to both of our satisfaction, and my pets and other animals will get the care I want for them, without breaking the bank!

    But really, getting good, approriate vet care means that both vet and client have to work at it!


    • Angry Vet says:

      Very well put. A lot of beautiful points that you make in a very eloquent way. I will post this response on facebook as a representation of the thought and time that some people are putting into

    • Paula says:

      Medical cost all around are rising – for people as well – I run my practice in a economical way – and I know the cost of every lab I order Xray – MRI or drug – because I know that medicine can be – for the most part – practiced inexpensively , but what can be done in an emergent situation, when a dog has emergent open lab for aborted pups – which one could expect 1000-1500$ here – and then every lab you could name and infectious titer , pulse ox was billed for !! On top of the “exam” the dog was 7 yo weimeriner and given fentanyl -+ gas – + ketamine and lidocaine for induction of a 25min surgery that went well enough for the dog to be picked up by 5pm – or if unable to arrive by 5pm they close , and this happened , the next morning the dog was lethargic still on 3 drips and Iv fluids -
      Repeat labs done 10am for no urine output – H Ct dropped from 42 to 20-
      Nothing was done in regards to the bleeding – one of two options – transfuse / stop the bleeding. Well I suppose pushing fluids all day and creating volume overload was an option as this was done- family not made aware of renal failure and severe blood loss until end of the day when another decision had to be made – let the dog die or transport her to ER vet for work up and transfusion ( ER vet was excellent and efficient – did us/ paracentesis – showing blood in abdomen) multiple labs over night – 2 units of blood –
      And given – it was an ER vet – one would expect s higher level of fees and blood transfusions?! The bill was 1300$-
      The following day the dog returns to the daytime vet- for half the day –
      Picked up at the end of the day as kidneys have failed and nothing can be done – family takes this dog home , cares for her at home until calling on a local vet to assist with ending suffering due to seizures –
      That bill for open lap/ and hyster, was 5,300$….
      So many items on bill that it seems no test wasn’t run, & each test was 150-250$ / before the dog went to the OR – the bill was already near 2500-3000$. and the dog was being treated for all the possible combinations of rare infections / her wbc were 11/ no bands – during surgery – under multiple Iv anesthesia the rare time that vss were done its noted the systolic to be 60- 70 through -out surgery- no other BP was checked until the dog was taken to ER vet – and it was 148-
      she did not turn out to have infections/ sepsis / nor DIC / the only apparent diagnosis that could be proven was internal bleeding – a known human complication with open hyster / not common but not uncommon -

      It feels as though, the testing / and medications used for surgery – were by any measure excessive – given I have seen the exact same scenario – and after the 25 min surgery , the dog was released home within 2h.

      Q- is it common practice to induce dogs (50lb) With gas / fenatnyl/ ketamine and lidocaine ? And leave the dog that’s said to be doing fine on these 3 Med Iv drip unsupervised over night ? A dog that was well enough to come home – and knowing we don’t do this in humans – nor do we do this post hyster in animals either – for what purpose ? Pain-
      Most dogs are home same day – with tramadol / which is a very inexpensive drug by the way – I carry it in my office we have our own small pharmacy – generic drugs for this reason – I know the cost – and I know their is zero regulation, so to charge 100$+ for tramadol 20 tabs – is a huge mark up- when it’s cost is 10$- in our office .
      As well – in my office – for ex – I may see a patient with pneumonia – and pending sepsis / dehydration / and do complete exam and then Tx with IV fluids / IV abx / and moniter the pt for 2-4h / run labs complete for 50$ ( this goes to lab not me ) and the total cost is never ever more than 300- on a rare event 400$ – but that would be extremely rare .
      And if a cash pay patient – certainly I know my cost – and many Pts are high deduct i.e. Not insured – my office visit is 147$- and Iv fluids are 150$-
      Levoquin 10 worth is 12$
      For example .
      Multiple issues here – overbilling for this dog/ no intervention when hct dropped by half / and – the dog is dead ..
      What recourses are available for patients who are truley taken advantage of ? I have many elders who’s only contact at home is their pet – I have seen them mortgage there homes or pay huge bills they cannot afford – for simple care -

      Trust me I see it everywhere in medicine and I fight against it every day – and train my patients rule # 1
      Don’t trust physician implicitly – ask question – understand what’s recommended and why – what are the risks and benefits – physicians have lost trust – and if or good reason.. I feel – I see now vets may suffer the same problem .. What can be done after the fact though ?
      Thank you for reading this rather long note :)

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  26. Giulia says:

    Supply and demand! If I were a supermarket owner, I may consider it perfectly adequate to sell Twinkies for $30 a pop in order to pay for the rental, staff, utilities, etc. of my store. Also, having studied business, I would have to pay off my student loan, too. But customers would consider that price inappropriate. It is animals we are talking about, not humans, for pete’s sake! Totally not worth it. Overpriced. James Herriot treated animals as animals, and would had never though of comparing them to people.

  27. Giulia says:

    Hi again! You chose not to publish my previous comment about the $30-Twinkies, which you probably found too abrasive, but I really wish vets would consider the basic principle of free-market economics; i.e., that of supply and demand. For most people, even the most beloved domestic *animal* is “worth” less than a human being, and most pet insurances are practically useless. So, because of your excessive fees (excessive by market standards; i.e., more expensive than many customers are able/wish to pay), many people have their pets killed instead of having them treated. (See, for instance, the following article: “Expensive vet bills ‘forcing animal lovers to kill pets’” from The Telegraph, 2010.) Anyone who possesses the most rudimentary smattering of basic market economics (which, I hope, you acquired at the overpriced universities you chose to attend) would understand that his fees are excessive, upon seeing that many people would rather let their beloved pet be put down, rather than pay today’s exorbitant vet charges! Each normal business dealing involves two parties negotiating over prices, but vets set and impose their fees exclusively from their perspective, banking on the fact that many people would rather accept to be blackmailed and ripped off, rather than lose their four-legged friend (it is hard to chose death over life, whereas a supermarket customer would simply buy a cheaper snack, instead of a $30-Twinkie). Sadly, although vets manage to blackmail a sufficient number of people to make a good living, many more pet owners are unable/unwilling to be ripped off and choose to let their domestic animals die. This is the craziest, saddest, most infuriating thing I have learnt since getting cats: Vets have (more or less intentionally) created a professional cartel with universally agreed-upon minimum fees, instead of competing fairly on prices like most other professions; because of your cartel, many animals must die, which could easily and cheaply be cured. So, perhaps, you are not just selling Twinkies after all, but you are far more rigid and inflexible in your pricing than trivial supermarket owners are!!! Your blog is otherwise excellent, but this defense of your professional cartel is pathetic and self-indulgent at best.

    • Crittervet says:

      Dear Guilia. Since you are obviously an intellectual giant I suggest that you should either spend 5-6 years of your life studying to be a vet so you can make an informed comment about the subject instead of talking complete drivel.

  28. Giulia says:

    PS: “Recession Squeezing America’s Veterinarians”
    (by Matthew Yglesias, Slate, 2013).

    According to the aforementioned article, your professional cartel is not compact enough to shield you from the recession:

    “Had America’s veterinarians been as effective as America’s doctors at forming an anti-competitive cartel, they’d still be suffering from the drop in demand but would have considerably more protection.”

    However, a cartel is necessarily based on blackmailing, whose effectiveness, in turn, is based on perceived necessity/unavoidability. So, you will never be able to set up as compact and effective a cartel as human doctors.

  29. Mark Proctor says:

    Vets are Dick Turpins and he even wore a mask. They prey on the emotional attachment people have with their pets.
    Yes they have been to college for years and practice from expensive premises but that was their choice.
    It’s a disgrace the vetinary profession!
    My last visit to prove a point was my female Siamese was lethargic and her 3rd eyelids were showing.
    I went to the nearest vets and after he had stuck a thermometer up her bum and weighed her, he didn’t know what was wrong with her.
    So £60 for 20 minutes and some eye drops!
    This is why vets have a bad reputation.

  30. Robert says:

    My current vet is over prescribing way too much
    drugs and injections .
    My dog has in ear infection and itch problem which getting under
    control with vitamans . The problem I have is my dog
    has cushings disorder . the vet gave my dog vetalog,
    injection cefazolin ,injection gentizol injection.
    I was fine with first one but all others I think are too much
    she came home panting for over an hour .
    Should find another vet? it seems the vet just wants
    use almost same drug cocktail on my dog who is 13.
    I feel is not good for her.

  31. JOEMMM says:

    College tuition costs are the biggest tax on society, they need to be brought down. They are at astronomical greed levels now, and all of this student loan debt in the medical sector passes down to the customer. I agree with the writer of this article, college wound up becoming a big scam for profit business for the folks that run the educational complex. College tuition needs to be revamped, maybe take into consideration the model of more mature countries like Europe where the cost is included in everyone’s taxes and there are no upfront tuition fees for folks to attend.

  32. Charlene Pritt says:

    Every vet should make a good living, but this salary of $68, 000, is not really how it is. I live in the Atlanta, Georgia area and the vets here completely rip you off. Most of them have million dollar a year practices. A good vet would never turn an animal away for lack of money. I don’t think they start out that way, but along the way greed gets in the way. And then you are encouraged to go to your local animal shelter and save a life. So sad that most people cannot do that since the vets charge such outrageous prices. I have little respect for most of them, but not all of them. And it use to be that lawyers were considered the crooks. Now it is the vets. There are some that care, but most have $$$ signs in their eyes. I am a dog lover, but no more for me. When they get sick you need thousands to save them all because of the greed of vets. It did not use to be this bad and I could never turn away an animal for lack of money myself. Karma always comes sooner or later to the greedy. Just a matter of what date on the calendar.

    • kathy says:

      This topic really gets me mad. Owners need to take some of the burden of responsibility too. Owning an animal costs money. It is not your vets fault it your animal gets sick. My vets present me with a sliding scale of options from the gold standard to the bare minimum and everything in between. They advise me and I am aware of the costs invoved then it is down to me to weight up cost vs. benefit. My old girl got a bony tumour as she was 11 and very arthritic already I knew radical amputation wasnt a valid option, palliative radiotherapy was offered but the distance to my local centre ruled it out so my vet and I agreed to go for multimodal pain relief and take it day by day. Now is this greedy money grabbing? ‘Saving a life’ is a relative term. It only holds true if you take on board that this ‘life’ may cost you something down the line. The world doesn’t owe you a debt for taking an animal on and you should not take this decision lightly.

      • Kay says:

        You know, your response to pet owners is what pisses me off. Taking care of my cat is not expensive at all. Good cat food, litter, and a one time payment for a food/water bowl. I can afford that easily, no problems. It’s when my cat gets sick is where the trouble lies. I take him to the vet, and suddenly I’m being shamed, and told I shouldn’t have a pet because I can’t afford $800 per vet visit, $1500 for an xray, and $3000 for “exploratory surgery”.

        People who have that mentality, like you Kathy, should kill themselves.

        • Tara says:

          “People who have that mentality, like you Kathy, should kill themselves.” I think this comment says everything we need to know about your opinions Kay.

  33. Don Nix says:

    OK….50k for an ultrasound machine…..and? Last ultrasound I got cost me 500 bucks!!! So lets do the math….at 500 bucks a pop, thats 100 treatments to pay the whole thing off. Most office with an ultrasound will clear 100 treatments in 1-2 months……that’s what I call exorbitant pricing. The equipment may be expensive, but the treatments are so exorbitantly priced they make a killing off them…sorry not buying it…no sympathy from me. Most doctors dont go through all that schooling because they have compassion, they do it cause its some of the highest paid fields they can get into. Modern day medicine is an attrocious industry. Sure the tech has advanced, but the more it advances, the less people will be able to afford it. Are we better off than we were 20 years ago? Hell no. Cool new techy toys might be more optimal, but that doesnt mean they are necessary. Nothing lives forever, and science will never change that in our lifetime, nor should it ever IMO. A ferrari might be more optimum to drive around, but a kia does the same thing in terms of getting from point a to point b. The medical industry isnt driven by how inexpensively they can do things. Its a giant racket, ruled by a small group of people who actually underwrite all the policies, who do everything in their power to keep competition and a truly free market at bay. The doctors ultimately are just protecting their exorbitantly priced educations, and licenses. Understandably so, they dont make the prices, and arent allowed to truly speak freely without fear of the board or fda revoking them. Screw big pharma in the neck!!!!! Pure greed!!!!

  34. mj says:

    I come from Poland to USA
    and being an animal lover and seeing misery of feral cats of course I quickly end up helping ferals
    but what amazes me is the cost of veterinary care …is just i n s a n e
    somehow in Poland it is affordable for almost everyone …maybe there is no 50 000 usd machines but there are caring highly skilled vets who do not charge arm nad leg ….cost of a feral cat treatment runs as high as buying a car ????….crazyyyy
    and in the end animals are suffering cause they never get to see the vet …ppl just cant afford it …its a luxury….
    similar situation with humans … insurance is a luxury for rich people …..others gets almost nothing …few old antibiotics and chicken soup advice……..

    • JAN says:

      Absolutely spot on. In Argentina, like Poland, there are many competent and caring vets who are not out to drain the blood from their clients, and provide quality and affordable care. The argument they have to pay for their machines is a load of twaddle US Veterinarians utter in order to justify their outrageous rates.

  35. Tom Green says:


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  36. K. says:

    Interesting thread. Animal health, as well as human health depends entirely on what goes into our/their mouth. Our bodies (both human and animals) are designed to live on REAL FOOD. When the VERY LUCRATIVE pet food INDUSTRY came into being…our animals became increasingly ill as more and more of us became blindly convinced that the MARKETERS of pet food were actually selling us products that had nutritional value for our animals. The 85 BILLION DOLLAR pet food INDUSTRY is an unregulated INDUSTRY…and any manufacturer can claim anything it pleases on its packaging…regardless of the validity of it or not. Why is that significant? Because most animals are living their entire lives on what would be the equivalent of a ‘fast food diet’…with little to no nutritional value whatsoever. Your dog or cat has ‘dental problems’? When was the last time you offered them meaty raw bones? If your cat or dog lived on their own…would they be seeking grains to feed themselves or meat, fish and other proteins? As our animals have continued to be fed FAST FOOD out of a bag…mostly grain based foods inappropriate for animals… as their systems don’t require CARBOHYDRATES for good health they’ve become less and less healthy resulting in our ‘need’ for medicine industry intervention.

    • h. gearhart says:

      a huge problem w/ the food anymore is the adding of crap which isnt 1. anything edible, or 2. food products which are otherwise inedible. the mamnufacturers do this out of greed and because theyre allowed to get away with it. and on that loint, the USDA has done an abysmal job of regulating foodstuffs for people and animals alike. ive noticed many of the high dollar/premium brands are regularly listed for various recalls, moreso than cheaper brands. humans and animals are told they should be eating a better diet. however i see little being done to ensure this advice is taken price- or ingredient-wise.

  37. Hoots says:

    What I have seen over the past twenty years of owning pets is a sudden proliferation of Porches parked in staff parking at most vet clinics. And while it is true that modern equipment is expensive, the presence of that expensive equipment means that vets now recommend expensive tests on the expensive equipment at the slightest excuse instead of using discretion to decide if such tests are truly necessary.
    When I get quotes from my vet now I always ask if the work they’re recommending is necessary to get the job done or if it is what might be considered more of a “gold standard” in treatment. As much as I love my pets I think modern vets have been trained to maximize the billing potential from every customer now and this truly has a negative effect on the treatment that our pets receive when treatment is beyond a pet owner’s budget.

  38. Paul Philips says:


    I’m writing you to check would you be interested in reach Veterinarians email database? We at ListnAppend, maintain 24,000 contacts with email address of Veterinarians across USA.

    Below is the break down counts for Veterinarians for other countries:

     Veterinarians Canada: 6,000
     Veterinarians UK: 4,000
     Veterinarians Australia: 4,000

    And we also maintain Veterinarians contacts rest of the countries.

    Our data includes: First Name, Last Name, Title, Email Address, Company, Address, City, State/Province, Job Title/Specialty, ZIP/Postal Code, Country, Phone, Fax, Web Address.

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    Looking forward to hearing from you.

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  39. Suzanne Cannon says:

    I see that no one has posted on this topic in quite some time, but I just discovered this article and read all the comments with interest. It is this very issue which led me to begin developing a business model that would enable vets to offer in-house payment plans for costly or emergency procedures, but instead of having to manage the administrative burden of the payment plan, my company does it. We have been in business for 27 years providing electronic payment processing services.

    As a dog and horse mom, I have certainly had my share of very expensive veterinary bills, and I do have pet insurance. The insurance has certainly helped, and I bought my first policy after one of my dogs had a bout with pancreatitis that landed her in the emergency animal hospital over a weekend. That was some 15 years ago, when there was only one provider of pet insurance out there (I still have a policy with that provider, VPI.) The bill was over $1,000, and I was reimbursed nearly 80%. However, I still had to pay the bill upfront, which was difficult, and then wait for the reimbursement check, which took about a month.

    Over the years since then, I’ve been at the emergency vet clinic more times than I would like to remember (for some reason, my animals prefer to become acutely ill on Friday nights!) Having schnauzers, many emergency visits have been due to pancreatitis (notwithstanding that they are on special prescription diets and are never fed table scraps.) The most expensive episode was about $4,000. My dog survived, but it was touch and go for several days. She was 8 years old at the time, and I was in the middle of a terrible divorce. I was working only part-time, and therefore I didn’t qualify for Care Credit. However, I most certainly could have made installment payments, even though “on paper” a traditional financing solution didn’t work for me.

    I remember thinking at the time that it would reduce my stress tremendously if there were more payment options in addition to Care Credit. I was already quite overwhelmed with worry for my dog’s health, and then to have a $4,000 bill on top of that — well, that about knocked me flat.

    I have read comments here and elsewhere stating that if one cannot afford care for a pet, they should not own one. Well, that is a bit of a generalization and not quite fair. For me, my animals are my children because I was never fortunate enough to have the human version. From the most reductionist perspective, while I was going through a divorce, I “shouldn’t” have kept my dogs. However, those dogs provided me with a great deal of comfort and support during those dark days. I truly believe they contributed quite a bit to my emotional recovery from that situation. So…no, I didn’t give my dogs away, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I would not dare to judge others who make the same decision. I am not in their shoes, and I don’t know the details of their situation. By the same token, I wouldn’t judge someone who relinquished their animal, nor one who elected euthanasia vs. costly treatment. Again, I am not in their shoes and don’t know their circumstances.

    All this being said….many years after the above incidents occurred, I met the love of my life, and he just happened to own a payment processing business. When I decided to join him in the business — at that time the bulk of our clients were fitness centers for whom we handled monthly billing — I began researching the topic of veterinary payment plans. I wondered if we could develop some sort of helpful solution. Not a perfect one, but truly helpful — something that could benefit both clients and the vet practice, in which we could set up and manage installment payment plans on behalf of the veterinarian. By using automatic drafts and implementing a credit check system (which executes a “soft” credit pull, that doesn’t show on credit reports or affect credit score), I hoped we could help both parties involved in a veterinary transaction. The client could spread out costs, and the veterinarian didn’t have to be out on a limb, offering a makeshift payment plan without being able to make an informed decision about the degree of risk involved in extending such a payment arrangement.

    Obviously, the predominant driving force in this idea came from my own perspective as a veterinary client. However, I love and respect the vets who care for my animals, and I WANT them to get paid. I WANT to be able to pay them. With my equine vet, I set up automatic drafts on my own, from my bank account, after candidly disclosing to her that I was going to have difficulty paying a $3,000 bill all at once. Her response? “No problem. Do you have any idea how many of my clients don’t pay me at all? If they even sent just $5 a month, I’d be happy, because at least I’d know they were trying.” That conversation — which was several years ago — was yet another factor that influenced my decision to work on creating these payment plans.

    So…I do not want my vets to struggle, because I need them. Of course, my veterinary payment plan model was created out of a conviction that most clients want to make good on their bill. (I am well aware that sadly, this is not true of ALL clients, however.) But well-intentioned clients sometimes legitimately need a manageable way to make payments, and they are embarrassed and distressed if they can’t pay in full up front. I didn’t develop this program to enable more “deadbeat clients.” I created it for those of us — vet client and doctor alike –who truly care about these animals and their medical welfare, and who intend to handle a financially challenging situation with integrity and compassion, on both ends.

    I only have about 10 vets using our system at present, and I am encountering resistance because we are NOT “Care Credit” and we don’t provide payment upfront to the vet. We pay the vet as we collect from the client. However, the vet doesn’t pay anything to offer our payment plans…the client pays a small enrollment fee of $25, and an additional $3 is added to each payment. For most transactions, these fees come to less than 5 or 6% of the total invoice, so the client isn’t getting slammed with high interest or fees.

    I am rather passionate about this topic (I’m sure no one can tell), because I feel this payment alternative is necessary – given the present state of veterinary medicine and the associated costs. I also truly believe we can create a win-win situation with our payment plans.

    I would be interested to hear what anyone thinks about what I am trying to do, and I would love to hear from both vets and pet owners.

    Thanks for letting me ramble on here….!

    • I would be interested in knowing more about your business to help our clients pay.

      • Dr. Thompson, I’m so sorry for not replying. I apparently didn’t request notifications of new comments to this thread. You can visit our web site at to learn more about how our system works. And of course I would be happy to talk to you if you’d like to give me a call. My office number is 800-766-1918 ext 152. Anyone reading this is welcome to contact me with questions or comments. Again, I’m so sorry for the months-long delay in response.

    • Rose says:

      How do you ensure that the vet gets paid? Do you pre-qualify people who you set up payment plans for? Because to my mind, this is no different to a vet giving a payment plan and hoping they get paid, there’s just a middle man to do the leg work of sending invoices that are often ignored.

      • Rose, I’m sorry, I just saw your reply. I guess I didn’t request notifications when someone commented on this thread. Unfortunately Dr. Marilyn Thompson asked me a question many months ago which I never answered, because I didn’t see it until now.

        About your question of ensuring vets get paid: We set up and administer contract-based installment payment plans. The client must consent to automatic drafts from a checking, savings or credit card account. Our company, established in 1986, has a full customer service and collections department, and should an automatic transaction fail, we can intervene immediately. Typically this is simply a matter of updating credit card info (the client got a new card and failed to notify us of the update, which they can do by phone or online.) We have many options at our disposal by which we enforce payment compliance. That includes up to 10 contacts per month if there is a missed transaction (phone, email, postal mail, etc), and reporting to all 3 credit bureaus if a client account is more than 90 days past due. However, we have a delinquency rate of less than 3% on all our veterinary payment plans. This is probably due to the fact that the payments are automatically drafted – we don’t send invoices, and then wait for the client to respond with payment. Our approach to this is proactive, rather than reactive. If a client expresses concerns about payment upfront, it is better to get them on a payment plan NOW rather than waiting until they’ve walked out of your clinic and then sending their account to collections. It doesn’t cost the vet anything to offer our payment plans. The client pays for the convenience of having a payment plan. There is a nominal enrollment fee, and a flat $3 is added to each recurring installment payment. There are no other high interest charges, no hidden fees, etc. As far as the pre-qualification process, that is something that we are currently testing. A client’s pre-approval for a payment plan is valid for 30 days. After that they must re-apply, because credit information can change, obviously. So far our business has helped quite a lot of pet owners and vets – and that is what it was intended to do.

  40. I graduated veterinary college in 1975 and have owned 3 practices over the span of my career. Nothing I do in practice resembles the way it was in 1975. My first job paid me $7,000 at an SPCA hospital with no benefits. There were no “specialists” and no “licensed veterinary technicians.” People love their pets as I do mine and have demanded better care over the last 40 years. But with the high price of rent, electricity, drugs, tests, equipment, worker’s comp, liability insurance, animal food plus regulations, employee salaries, benefits, inspections, online pharmacies and corporate purchases of small, family type businesses, veterinary medicine has become unmanageable. I used to see my clients, order my own supplies, pay my bills at the kitchen table and even raise my children. We overvaccinated because the drug companies told what dose to give and if we went against that, we were liable for not following the manufacturers labels. We were able to do low cost surgery because we could make our profit on selling medications; now that everyone gets their medications online or at Walmart, we muct actually charge a fair price for what we do. Where in human medicine can you get a total hip replacement for $5,000? No where. And realize that when you walk into a veterinary office, it is not a reception desk and a nurse, a blood pressure monitor and and stethascope. It is a FULL service HOSPITAL, with surgery, anesthesia, dental equipment, laboratory testing, a pharmacy of not only vaccinations and antibiotics, but of many many drugs/injections for infection, pain control, x-rays. We have sterilization equipment, patient warmers, IV fluids and drip monitors, blood pressure and EKG. We treat ears, eyes, poisons, wounds, parasites, infections, tumors, teeth, skin, intestinal diseases, right down to broken toe nails. We have to hire people who love animals and yet are strong enough to see the sick, the painful, the saddness of euthanasia and the frustration of people not paying their bills. I love my job, but we cannot control the rising cost of drugs, rent, employees, taxes, regulations and insurance. There is no other business like it in the world.

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  42. Mysty says:

    I’m in Ottawa Ontario Canada. I am on Disability. I was given a cat that was directly rescued off the streets. This was 7 years ago. I feed, brush, clip nails. I don’t believe one bit that Veterinarians are hard done by. Why shouldn’t POOR people be allowed the company of a cat or dog. Street people get free vet care here…but I barely have a roof over my head so I don’t qualify…. I have no veterinarian in this city that will agree to a payment plan. It’s all about money, money, money. I cannot afford to get a Credit Card. I am willing to pay a bill. But I don’t have large amount of money up front! So VETS today guilt poor people saying you can’t have a pet to love you….unless you have a VET!. Farm cats live ferrel… The cat I saved 7 years ago at a friend’s encouragement… has been to a vet twice..and I had to borrow from a friend and pay off in installments that way. I have paid for another cat to be euthanized $300…due to a genetic disorder.
    Shame on your GREED and GUILT TRIPS.. I live alone…unable to work. I feed, groom, clip nails…buy furball treatments etc.
    I gave this cat 7 more years of life. It would have been dead on the streets. When I was a kid…people weren’t guilted into fixing cats. They gave them homes. Now if you don’t go to an Expensive are made to feel you have no right to a pet. Well guess what, in CHINA they eat cats it’s a stock. My cat has skin problems right now…and one bad tooth. and there is not a damn thing I can do because VETS are so damn expensive. I answer to GOD not YOU.
    i have given this cat a home. Nursed it back to health. keep it’s litter clean. feed it well. give it treats. If my cat turns out to be sick. I will live with that. I gave her all I could. and she gave me company and love back. THIS IS HOW THE POOR FOLK LIVE. AND BELIEVE ME. THERE ARE MANY MANY OF US OUT THERE!

    • Mysty says:

      Update: Dr. Rob. I don’t know the last time you blogged to this site, but, through researching on the internet and at pet stores… I have found a cream to ease my cats skin irritation. I used my last $20 plus tax. It’s called Liverine Unction Cream. I will let you know how it works. See…. and I didn’t need to pay $300 to be told to do the obvious. My cat eats okay (but is finicky about what she eats)..She passes her stool just fine, and despite a vet saying she had one bad tooth…years ago… she doesn’t have bad breath…The first time I though my cat was sick . there wasn’t a damn thing wrong with her… she was just being finicky. Yet VETS guilted me into tests that weren’t necessary. It’s an industry, which just happens to incorporate expensive equipment…..that’s YOUR choice.. and you pass the cost on to us. and Many VETS say I became one because I love animals… guess what…that’s bull…you and them just LOVE the money… Just like the Doctors I worked for… I could tell the ones who were in it for the money and the ones who genuinely care! I discovered VETS are trained in bedside manorisms just like Human Physicians. Boy was that an eye opener.

      So you must be saying…why is this “Mysty” person ranting on? This is my perspective from a POOR PET OWNER, can do a half decent job of taking care of a pet…without going bankrupt or being lonely due to Veterinarian costs.

      ps: I made sure this cream is not toxic to my cat!

  43. CJ says:

    If the costs of Vets services are so expensive because of the high cost of student tution, then I suggest that you study a new profession, because we are not going to continue to pay these high Vet cost to greedy Vets. It the equiptment is expensive they don’t buy it, because we are no longer going to let you greedy vets past the cost along to us, so our choices are to let our animals suffer because of greedy vets or to stop getting pets. in the old days most dogs got along very well without you so called vets, and they will continue to, most of the diaganosis from vets is a lie anyway. People are no longer so passive that they just go along with what a vets says, we have common sense to know bull when we hear it. When are you greedy vets going to learn that we are just as smart as you are, and won’t be manipulated into your money hungry skeems for sake of an animal, no matter how much love we give to the animal.

  44. Lisa says:

    I have my dog insured she has been since we had her at 8 weeks old. We love her like one of the family and I would do anything for her. But, I must agree with some of these comments. Every business has overheads and most graduates leave with huge debt even here in the UK. But, that does not justify inflating prices and preying on the emotions of pet owners. But my major issue is the cost of medicines that can be purchased from the internet for a fraction of the price. My pet is on Metacam for a torn anterior cruciate. Long story short, I was very reluctant to have her operated on due to her age of 14. Researched on line and felt a second opinion would be appropriate. Had appointment with surgeon who agreed with me. Small dogs respond better without surgery with minimum activity for 3 months or so. The medicine cost £40 the consultation £28! I can purchase the equivalent size on line from a reputable company for £5.35! That is what angers me. But, I have to have a prescription and Vet practices get very unfriendly if you just want a written prescription and intend to purchase medication elsewhere. They also charge for writing the prescription. Now tell me that it is not all about the money. My point is, if they truly cared about animals they would welcome the fact the owners are actually treating the animals irrespective of where the medication is purchased and not be all surly and awkward because they missed out on a large profit margin. If I saw an item of clothing and they had exactly the same in another shop but it was £10 cheaper, I would be a fool to purchase it from the dearer shop. The same should be accepted for buying medication for pets. Its called competition. I was charged £20 for a 30ml bottle of Hibiscrub for a cyst on her paw. As this item did not require a prescription I purchased some more on line. A 500ml bottle cost me £7.50!

  45. Peter Thomas says:


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  46. Catherine Gibson says:

    I have had two excellent vets. Dr. Paul Elwell (and his partner Dr. Mark Carlson) in Roxbury, CT and near my mother’s house Dr. Mike Metzler in Bridgeville, DE. They are old school vets who clearly care about the animals. Dr. Elwell has come to his office on a Sunday night to help deliver a litter of Bernese Mt. Dogs. He will call back day or night and was ready for any emergency.
    Dr. Mike will reply to emails and call you late after his busy day to discuss your pets health. When I am away for the winter I send him any labs or test results on my pets and he will call and discuss it with me.
    When I am away for the winter I am in an area where I haven’t found a vet that I like that is close and affordable. None of them are available for emergency care. I had a cat last year sick with supperative lung infection. On a Friday night I was at his primary vet here and he was in respiratory distress. They were getting ready to close and we sweeping around my feet. He offered to call to admit him to the emergency clinic 28 minutes away. I told him I was worried about getting him home half the distance away. I asked about a shot of prednisone and the vet shrugged his shoulders. The next day I got a call from the vet that I had taken him to when he had an emergency the previous Saturday (when primary vet is closed) and he gave the diagnosis based on biopsy that he had been sent out and prescribed a change of antibiotic and prednisone. Less than an hour later, before the local could fill the Rx he called in my cat died. An injection of prednisone by the local vet, the night before, could have saved his life. None of my vets up north would have been pushing me out the door with an animal in distress. The Emergency Vet Clinic is something I have seen in the last 10 or 15 years and I think it was much better thirty years ago, as you asked Angry Vet, when you could get one of your regular vets in an emergency.
    Yesterday, I had occasion to go to the emergency clinic in the area. The one a half hour away. My friend’s cat couldn’t urinate. It was a Sunday but with a possible total blockage this isn’t something that can wait until the next day. At the emergency clinic the office visit was more than twice the going rate for an office visit at local vets. The estimate for “gold standard” care was $983-1100 (they like to leave a $100 margin we were told). The next step down, IV fluids, anesthesia and inserting a catheter to drain urine from the bladder and watch the cat overnight and administer pain meds was $583-700. With either of those options the cat would be released with the IV and cath in to be taken to the primary care vet or remove the IV and cath if the cat was going home. Option 3, was $210 for the procedure and release. Another person with a cat 9 years younger came in with the same problem and got the same price quotes. The next day my friend took her cat to her regular vet and was charged $117 for the procedure again and IV fluids for the day until they closed. That was the $583 option at the Emergency Vet. The emergency clinic is only open weekends and nights but I fail to see any reasonable explanation for charges five to six times what a primary care vet charges. The Emergency Vet is no more qualified than the Board Certified Vets at the animal hospital that I used on a Saturday when my primary care vet (Dr. Death as I now call him; the one who wouldn’t take the time to give a prednisone injection because they were closing.) God help any animals that are sick or injured here at night or on the weekends whose owners can’t afford these outrageous charges. Not everyone here in Florida is living large on pensions, 401ks and Social Security. Many are on a limited budget and while they can afford primary care have no way to afford care five times or more as much. It was much better when your regular animal hospital had someone on call for nights and whenever they were closed on weekends for emergencies. Not only is the primary vet more familiar with the pet and has records available but even an surcharge for an emergency wouldn’t be anywhere near as much as the Emergency Clinics. If you can’t afford their care good luck to you and your pet until you can get to your regular vet.

  47. Glorilynn says:

    We do not have an overabundance of money, but we will do whatever it takes to get the best health care for our beloved pets.

    Recently our cat, who we have had for 18 years with ZERO health issues and was going every 6 months for her senior wellness exam and all was good. Well, four weeks ago we took her to the Vet… a Vet closer to our home recommended by a friend, as our cat had a urinary tract infection… Vet did an exam, blood test, urine test… and indeed Kitty had to go on antibiotics for a UTI.

    Two days later, Ms.Vet calls and says, Kitty tested positive for FELV “Feline Leukemia”. We were shocked… said how can this be, we have had her since she is 8 weeks old, given her the best medical care, never an outdoor cat, never exposed to other cats… We asked the Vet if this could be a mistake? Perhaps a “false-positive”, and the Vet replied, no, these tests are very accurate. So the Vet begins to “OVER MEDICATE” Kitty with extra antibiotics… steroids… amongst other meds. We insisted on a re-test and the answer was no… there is no point of a re-test now, but maybe in 2 – 3 months.

    We take Kitty to another Vet, dishing out more $$$ and this Vet agrees that the test for FELV is what it is “accurate” as these tests are fool proof. Kitty is now having reactions to the meds, so they switch her meds, now more problems… more money… more money… So we contact one of the
    “BEST Vet’s” in the country and have a phone consultation at the tune of $3.50 per minute… seeking help as we are desperate!

    At this point, Vet #1 and #2 said that due to the FELV it would be best to put Kitty down! We then find another local Vet, who agreed to re-test for FELV and guess what… it was NEGATIVE!!! Two Vets said that the test was “FOOL PROOF” and that Kitty should be put down… Get another cat!!! She is old anyway!!! Wow…

    Now here is the kicker… after 3 weeks of being on these hardcore meds “for cancer – FELV”, Kitty developed a tumor in the back of her throat… Kitty went from healthy to extremely ill… not eating… drinking… and listless… and all the asinine Vet’s can say is: “well she is 18 years old and at that age anything can happen”. Where the heck is the accountability? The integrity? The heart for animals? The heart for those that care for and love animals? These Vets are criminals… money driven and should have their licensed revoked… PERIOD!

    Our guess, based on articles we have read, etc… is that the meds threw our poor, elderly Kitty into a tailspin and compromised her immune system!!! Hence the reason for the tumor!

    The Vet that re-tested for FELV just 4 days ago, has Kitty on some holistic meds in hopes of slowing down the growth of the tumor and even possibly shrinking it. She said that she has to consult with the “Surgeon” about how to approach the operation to remove the tumor and that she will get back with us… in the meantime, we have lost 4 days since that visit to the Vet, with no word on the next steps and Kitty is not getting any better… As I expressed to the Vet, “time is of the essence” before it is too late.

    We are truly in despair…

  48. Siouxsie Sherman says:

    I have an excellent relationship with the staff at my vet clinic. Every time I go in, they know I’m basically going to write a blank check, but I have never once felt taken advantage of. Like the author said, take the time to find the right clinic for your animals so you can develop a respectful, mutual relationship of trust.

  49. Ginny Ranella says:

    When I was young and just married our two kittens came down with Distemper. We took them to the Vet who explained the twice a day injections needed for four or five days, IV’s to keep them hydrated and hospitalization throughout it all. That was a bill we couldn’t even consider. The vet explained we could get the medication at a local feed store and give the injections ourselves, provide hydration via an eye dropper and sterilize a contained area for them to prevent the killer secondary infections. He then gave them their first shot so we could see how it was done and warned us not to hit the nerve or we would paralyze them. Our odds for success were less than 5%. We went home with the kitties, cleared out a room and washed it down with Lysol and made them a new bed from our bleached linen and then I stayed with them 24/7 for over a week and a half while they went through the worse case of fever, diarrhea, starvation and bleeding from every orifice that can be imagined. At one point, their back legs even became paralyzed. The end result was two very healthy and mentally sound kittens that lived till they were 18 years old. The moral to my true story is that a bit of the “Country Doctor” resides in every animal lover which too many of us have stopped relying upon to keep the cost down where ever we can.

  50. Grace says:

    I’m on the fence because vets do have to make money, but I’m sure sick of unnecessary tests, especially when they are used to increase income. My vet went from a small semi-rural clinic to building a large clinic a few years ago. I’m in business and cannot imagine the huge costs he now has to pay each month after making such a jump. New building, more staff vets, more techs. But he’s a talented vet so I continue to go to him. Although now, I have to book an appt a month in advance to see him; most of the time I have to deal with fresh from vet school docs, who are nice, but not him. One recently cost me $$ because she incorrectly diagnosed a disease that a test proved didn’t exist. It’s frustrating. Her lack of experience cost me money.

    This is a classic example of new-and-improved vet medicine: I took my ailing elderly cat in a few months ago. I suspected she had a terminal illness, but wanted the vet to take a look at her. Of course, MY vet wasn’t able to see her, so a young vet did. Immediately, it was let’s do 1) bloodwork; 2) xrays and 3) possibly biopsy the mass found on her abdomen. Add that up in your mind then re-read “mass on abdomen” + elderly cat. Tell me, despite a battery of tests, what’s the outcome going to be? Right, she was going to die. So I actually said to the young vet “I know you’d like to know what’s wrong with her, but if it’s not going to change the outcome, what’s the point? I’m not going to do chemo — which will make her sick — to extend her life a few months.” She consulted with another (young) vet who also felt the mass. We all eventually agreed on supportive care/subq fluids, which I could do at home. My cat passed away a month later, comfortable in her own bed. Up until the day she died, she was involved in the household and not hiding somewhere, sick from chemo drugs or suffering alone. Ten years ago my vet would have said “There’s a mass, it’s likely cancerous based on her body condition. Your choices are 1) chemo 2) supportive care or 3) euthanasia.” Today, it’s spend $$$ to get the same answer and same result.

    Something is really broken here. No idea how to fix it and it is unbelievable how expensive vet school is…I don’t envy the young docs coming out because I know they’re facing huge bills before they’ve made dime one. :-(

  51. john says:

    To my mind the problem with the veterinary industry is the same as in the medical industrt….excessive diagnostics. My old doctor, who was from the old school, would look at my sort throat, diagnose me and treat me iinstantly. My new doctor looks at me but wont diagnose or treat until a throat culture is analyzed. Vets are the same now. They wont diagnose without hundreds of dollars of diagnostics.

    Ill give 4 example….

    1) 10 year old large dog developed painful lump on lower mouth. He had a broken tooth, the large fang, so the simple diagnosis was a tooth infection or absses. The vet agreed that this was most likely but suggested it could be a tumor and pushed diagnostics that would have exceeded $500. I would have paid about $700 in visit and diagnostics to figure out what we already knew….he needed some antibiotics and to have his tooth pulled. I refused the diagnostics, had his tooth pulled, and everything was fine. In fact, the tooth pull was cheaper than the diagnostics and visit!

    2) same dog 4 years later. Obviously he is getting to he end of his days since he is now 14 and a large 90 pound dog. Well he begins peeing in the house…walking around peeing. So I take him to the vet. Again, they want over $500 to test for this that and the other. I ask them to just give me some antibiotics for a uti or bladder infection but they refuse to do so without tests. I take him to another vet (so another $150 visit) and they also want to test but I convince them to give he antibiotics. Guess what? It cleared up his peeing problem within a few days.

    3) same dog now 15 develops peeing problem again this tine losing clumps of hair. I do some reading and conclude its cushings disease. I bring him to a new vet who convinces me to spend $500 on bloodwork and urinalisis to find that, you guessed it, he has cushings disease. Now the vet needs to find out what type of cushings disease he has. That is another $400. On top of the roughly $1000 in pre-treatment diagnostics he tells me he requires a further $150/month in diagnostics to monitor the efectiveness of the treatment. At this point ive had enough and I tell the vet to use his education to think critically and clinically and to make an educated guess on how treat this without further diagnostics. He refused to treat my dog with the appropriate meds without the monthly diagnostic and so did 3 other vets I went visited. Finally I decided not to treat him but to give him a urinary specific food and let him out more often which helped He went untreated because I refused to line the vets pocket with thousands of diagnostic dollars.

    4) my gf has a dog and 2 cats that need comfortin. The pill costs $18/month and the vet gives her a 6 month supply. When she needs more the vet wont just give them….no she has to make seperate vet apointments at $100 each for the vet to prescribe a flea medication.

    This is how I see it. Either vets are using diagnostics excessively to pay off their debts and expenses. This is not to imply that the tests were totally irrelevant only excessive…like $500 cancer screening for a dog with a tooth ache; or they have become so dependent on diagnostics that they cannot function without tests.

    Either way is not flattering… Vets sre either scammers or nothing but middlemen who rely on expensive tests paid for by their customers to do their jobs.

    I appologize if this is poorly wrriten but it was typed out on my phone. I must slso say that not all vets are bad. There are many good ones. I have found, however, that over the last 15 yesrs to cost of treatment has risen exponentially and coincidentally with the proliferation of diagnostic tesring.

  52. Bob says:

    I really find it obnoxious when people of the medical profession talk down to people. I find it outrageous when people let it happen to them and don’t even reply. I guess they get what they deserve.

    You are perfectly justified to think veterinary medicine is to costly, because the frustration comes from the fact that after paying all those fees, you are not further ahead. The pet is still in pain, and your wallet is empty. Medicine for pets or humans is very imperfect and we pay for that. Flawed diagnostics, wrong prescription, mistake here mistake there, is the reality of medicine today. The reality is we cannot call medicine a profession. It is a trade at best. Doctors are technicians with a medical tool kit. That it. They try the different tools they have and when it does not work they don’t know what else to do.
    As for deadly disease as mention in this page ,for the cancer case, there are alternative medicine that work. But they are not easily available even for humans because the pharmaceutical industry considers it as competition which they don’t want.

    Medicine is a business. Those in the trade are looking for profits. The medical aspect is secondary to the primary objective.

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  54. SusanR says:

    I have two old cats in renal failure who receive subQ fluids daily. I have been purchasing supplies from two mobile vets in my small town. I currently pay about 8$ (Eight dollars) for 100mls of lactated ringers. I had to take one of the cats to a vet office in town yesterday for an emergency. Always looking for backup sources of supplies, I asked the vet assistant what they charge for 100 mls of ringers. Better sit down! $55!!!! This vet has charged me $30 for 10 pills when I could get 60 at Walmart for $4. I think he must be putting his kids through college on Jupiter.
    Is there are agency with authority over vet charges? I feel terrible for his patients who have pets on subQ fluids. They are being robbed.
    Thank you.

  55. I finally went to the doctor to see if there was something wrong
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  56. Mike says:

    What is the normal fee for an endoscopy on a 70 pound Boxer?

  57. Anne Truth says:

    I have thought about this an awful lot within the last few years. This problem along with all the other problems of the world are always explained away but the problem never quite finds a solution when all the while the solution could have been terribly easy. You make really great points and it is nice to be able to hear the professional side of things. I think the salary you gave was the low side. While some veterinarian’s in the private sector could make a salary in the neighborhood of the early 30′s it ranges from 3ok to almost 150k a year. The professionals and industry leaders have an ethical duty to help pioneer ways to make things better. Do I think you should donate half your services away? I cannot answer a question like that for anyone, no one can, this is something you live with and deal with. Should all of us little people out here turn our backs on animals in need because their not OUR problem? In my experience many of the pet owners that I know personally have gotten their animals from a personal rescue. I myself have 3 cats right now and none of them were planned. They fell into my lap. One was a brand new baby…in the woods. Respiratory problems the whole nine yards. The other 2 were abandoned in a house with no food and riddled with fleas. Should I have turned my back on them because it’s not my problem? In my opinion:
    1.) Stray animals should be fixed for free. This alone over time would begin to minimize the number of abandoned animals that would even be in need of treatment in the first place. Is it ethical to fix feral cats and stray dogs? I don’t know is it ethical to let them procreate to be abandoned and suffer and starve or worse? Which serves the most good?
    2.) As a veterinarian, pull together and start a foundation, (where the money actually really goes to the presently ill animals and not expensive resorts, banquet halls, and first class tickets across the country constantly to make commercials) We are tired of donating to unscrupulous characters that are lining there pockets with our hard earned money. Put a website up that shows reports of the donations and a ticker with how many animals were helped that day with a cute little animated cocker spaniel and an adorable kitten. I will personally come donate today and share with everyone I know.
    3. Be a good neighbor and fork out some local charity work yourself regularly. If your riding nice it can’t hurt for you to dedicate a little time a week or 2 to donate some services. I overheard an employee at an emergency animal hospital express her distaste when a mother and a small child came in the night before because they had watched the neighbor in horror as he flung a poor defenseless little kitten out a second story window. They had little money and the staff refused to even look at the poor thing. I think that is absolutely disgusting! Business or not that is terrible to go into this type of profession which requires care and empathy and then to not even attempt to raise money or set up some sort of avenue of having an emergency fund for local residents. This of course is my opinion but each and every one of us has a responsibility to the world and everything it contains.
    There are things that can be done to fix things. Just nobody willing to actually do anything about it. I did my part so far. I’ve saved and cared for 5 cats all of which were stray, 3 I still have and 2 my mother still has. Many others that I found homes for. I will continue to take them in if I have the room or at the very least debug them, care for them and find them a good non-shelter home. I will go to the store and purchase supplies with my personal money and then take them to a vet and pay almost $200.00 for the check up and inevitable UTI medicine and then another $150.00 to get them fixed. And I won’t get a BMW for my efforts. This is an old post but I just had to comment.

  58. Brian says:

    Just heard on the radio that an 80 year old pensioner lady took her cat to a veterinary clinic with diagnosed tick paralysis and was asked for $400.00 up front before any treatment took place. The cat eventually died and they charged the lady $14, 000.00 for their services rendered and unbelievably she paid the account and has no life savings left.

    • Karina says:

      I have been taking my cats to the same vet for over 20 years. The care and concern and sincere liking for the animals was evident, and the costs were realistic and affordable. As the cost of living has risen I have have seen the vet costs rise too – that’s understandable. But over the past couple of years there has been a dramatic rise in costs accompanied by upselling. As if that’s not bad enough, the vet has fallen prey to the Scientologists. Now costs are becoming unaffordable because the tribute paid to Scientology is coming right out of the business. Sad thing to see…

    • Angry Vet says:

      insurance is the only answer that makes sense. with that said, most humane vets will find a way to help the elderly and downtrodden, but it aint gonna be for free. There comes a certain point where people just shouldn’t be in a position to own a pet

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  60. Cheryl says:

    I have a question. I recently took two of my cats to get their dental. Prior to that appointment, they did exams for each, drew blood because they are over 5 years old and then provided me with a high and a low estimate for each one. I am not questioning the competency of the vets. My question is in regards to honoring keeping my bill within the limits of the estimates. When I went to pick them up, the combined bill was over two thousand dollars. And no, that price does not include the cost of the exams and the required blood work done in advance. This bill was over 150% above the highest estimates for each. Can they legally do that do that? Then, to appease me they said I could make payments without charging me interest, however, only a few months in, now they are charging interest. I don’t know what to do. I have been going to the same practice for over twenty years because I do believe they are competent, however not cheap. This just feels wrong, and like a slap in the face to a loyal client. Any suggestions?

    • Angry Vet says:

      If you have a signed estimate, and you weren’t called during the procedure to get approval to go over that estimate, than it is well within your right to dispute the charges

  61. Anita says:

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  63. Tiffany says:

    I have been a veterinary receptionist now for four years. I used to think, “Wow! Vet visits are always so expensive…what gives?” Now I completely understand the inner workings of a veterinary practice. The thing that really grinds my gears the most is when pet owners blame veterinary staff for their problems. It is not our fault your pet is sick/injured. It is not our fault you just lost your job and now have no money. I am not a monster because I adhere to the policy of collecting the payment at the time of service. Guess what? I have pets, too. I need to care for myself and my pets with the money I make at my job. If we took in every sob story (as someone said any GOOD vet would never turn away a client due to lack of finances), it’s very likely I would no longer have my job and be joining the sob story clients on the unemployment line. If you do not have the means to care for your pet when it needs medical attention, guess what? There are many non-profit organizations you can find in a quick google search that were created specifically to help pet owners with emergency costs and such. However, it is NOT the responsibility of the veterinary staff to figure this out for you. It is YOURS. Everyone in the staff has a vital role to play and we see MANY clients/patients in one given day. We do not have the time to call around or email organizations for you. We are a business. We honestly care about your pet and want what is best for it. If you needed groceries, could you pile a cart high and roll up to the counter and expect it for free since you are unemployed? NOPE. You seek out government or community help. The same goes for your pet’s care. If you call and make an appointment to have your pet seen, you can expect that your payment will be due at the time of the service. No, payment plans are not offered (unless it is a long-time client who has proved they can be trusted, so that is also why it is good to keep a good relationship with your vet staff) due to being burned one too many times. Not all veterinary practices are large and fancy. The one I work for is a tiny, not very modern practice in a tiny town and it is owned by the doctor. We only have one doctor, myself, and RVT, and assistant, and another receptionist. We can only accommodate so much in one day, yet constantly have people who ask if we can make a special exception for them and stay after hours to see their pet because they can’t leave work. Well, we are open 8-5 Monday-Friday and the doctor and RVT often stay late for after surgery care and emergencies. We need rest, too, and we have our own pets at home that we would like to spend time with. We are PEOPLE too, just like you! This is our job. We deserve respect and to be compensated for the services we provide. If you do not like the prices, you are welcome to go elsewhere. We are not an auction or a flea market. In the end, YOU chose to get a pet. When it needs help, it is YOUR responsibility to find the funds to take care of it. No one is a monster for expecting to be paid to do their job. Do you have a job? Would you do it without being paid? Think about it.

  64. Marie Annette Galbraith says:

    We went to a vet in Elk Grove Village Illinois, we brought our 2 year old cat in for his yearly check up and the vets partner said something is wrong with his heart and if we didn’t get him x rayed he would be dead in one month, well needless to say we took him to our now vet and said there is nothing wrong with him. All Vets are not the same there are honest and dishonest in all business. Then I see on a web site from a man that was our previous vet giving sick puppies away that he breed to make more business for himself, the there was a complaint and nothing was done about it. Where is the justice for the sick puppies?

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  66. mick says:

    Student loans don’t justify overcharging for medications, padding the bill, and continued misdiagnosis to stretch out treatment. We all have student loans. Join the club.

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  68. Susan Miller says:

    First and foremost, I am not being snarky, I am truly interested in posing these questions and trying to find a solution for all involved.It is the only way that people will be able to afford care for their pets and alleviate their suffering. As a person in the medical field, and a husband who is a Board Certified Family Physician, I have several issues about the rising cost in veterinary care. First of all the loans a person graduates with should not be passed onto the people receiving care. If a person wants to become a veterinarian, then they are going to have to pay for school. No one paid for my school to become a registered nurse with a bachelors degree. My salary did not compensate for my schooling at all. I was luckier than most and my parents paid for my schooling. No one paid for my husbands schooling and with what he makes with managed care , patients certainly aren’t paying for it either.Secondly when it costs more to take my dog for an annual exam and vaccinations, then what my husband gets paid to give a child an exam and vaccinations I have a problem with that. When one of my dogs needed a cataract removed and I am quoted a price of $6,700.00 dollars for one eye, and a human opthamologist gets around $1,400.00 to remove a cataract, I have a problem with it. My dog is suffering because now his eye is constantly tearing from not having the surgery and it looks like his eye has exploded. My veterinarian whom I have been seeing for over 28 years gave me no other alternative for his eye. Just to walk in to the dog opthamologist we were going to be charged $850.00 dollars. That was the consultation fee. We get sickened every day to have to look at it feeling like we are not providing for our dog properly.I have been super ill myself and my medications cost thousands a month(that is a whole other issue with the system of human medicine), and I don’t have a money tree. I have four dogs. We started taking our dogs to a low cost shot clinic because to get my 4 dogs vaccinated, no heart worm test, was $1300.00 dollars. The low cost clinic did exams, heart worm test(I live in Florida and even though they are on preventative I check it yearly)vaccinations and it was $250.00 for all 4 dogs. That is a difference in over a thousand dollars. Now you cannot tell me that it costs that much more money to vaccinate my dogs and do a heart worm test. My vet recently remodeled his clinic and it is drop dead gorgeous. I didn’t see any problem with the old facility and I am pretty critical. It was always spotless, and I didn’t care if I had luxury seating while I waited. When my parents pug got heat stroke the cost for the treatment topped out at over $8000.00. Because our vet doesn’t take care of night time emergencies anymore, she had to be transferred to the emergency clinic every night by us, then taken back to our vet during the day,by us.We were the ambulance service. I mean what the hell?These new emergency clinics charge huge amounts of money and are owned by the local vets so they get a piece of that pie, plus the money my parents were charged during the daytime. I think veterinarians are wonderful people, I think treating any animal you have should be done. My question to you is how the hell do I afford to pay for it? Am I supposed to tell my youngest, that I cannot afford her tuition in the fall to pay for the cataract surgery my dog desperately needs?, and BTW both eyes need to be done now so that will be over $13,000.00 to get it done. Or do I put my dog down? That is being discussed now because he is miserable when we have to clean his eyes all the time. He is a poodle and they get enough tear stains and eye gunk without having any issues. The only way to get this stuff off under his eyes so it doesn’t cause huge sores on his skin is to pretty much waterboard the dog so we can clean his eyes. Then two hours later it is back again. But besides his eye he is perfectly healthy at age 13, so putting him down seems cruel and he is a beloved family pet.So please tell me what do I do? I know plenty of people face this decision all the time and it is heartbreaking to be in this position because we love our animals.When my male dogs was being neutered three years ago, I was told that the IV catheter itself was $75.00. Well a human IV catheter is only about $5.00-10.00 dollars that is really stretching into the high end for specialty catheters. Most cost around $2.75-$3.00. So why am I being charged that amount for my dogs IV catheter, in addition to the IV fluids?????,which by the way was another $125.00.(cost for a bag of normal saline is around $10.00) I don’t understand the cost discrepancy. Please explain it to me. Pretty soon we are going to go back to having most dogs and cats NOT VACCINATED because no one can afford the cost. Then we are going to see all the problems that causes.We will start seeing an uprising of parvo, kennel cough, distemper, and rabies. There has to be a happy medium. Because the veterinarian community is completely unregulated, there is no limit to the prices veterinarians can charge. Something has to be done before this entire country is in crisis because we cannot afford proper veterinary care. P.S. If you have a solution for my poor mini poodle please let me know, it is breaking our hearts.

  69. Kay says:

    I’m laughing my ass off at “Angry vet”, who doing all he can to secure and protect his, and other vet’s greedy mentality. Fuck you.

    • Ray says:

      I’ve spent so much money on vets that I don’t want to think about it. The irony is all of these pets were “dumped” on me and my wife. Deceased mother in law who decided she needs a dog at age 90 and died shortly thereafter, and children who brought strays home. How do you say no! One of my cats now needs prescription food for a urinary tract issue. Cost about $3 a can or $1K a year.
      I agree that most people don’t consider how expensive it is to own a pet. Unless you can afford to pay for the bills, and 99% can’t, DONT GET A PET.

  70. Pamela Sophia says:

    , … your associate does not need to pay $4000 a mo. for her student loan, … and if what you say is true about the 138k for vet school, then a $4k a mo. payment is absurd, a home for 140k would not even cost that a mo. also there are options now to help with student loans, i would encourage her to go look! also you are presenting veterinary medicine (ie: MRI’s, etc.) like you would for a human patient. i don’t think so, (my father i worked with for years was a real dr. Loma Linda grad phy/surgeon and medic in the Korean War, … real ! and there is no way veterinary medicine and the vet doctors even come close to those skills and medical knowledge, … most clinics would not even use a procedure like an MRI for a pet, maybe an equine that just won the Derby, … but not the normal pet owner/horse owner. UNLESS a lot of things fell into place, like the expertise and knowledge etc. and costs. there are not there, so that issue is null and void. moving to eastern WA State, we’ve seen just how much is not known here, (compared to So. Calif), and WSU is one of the worse vet schools we’ve ever worked with. … so this argument about high costs for specialized equipment (powered teeth float, JOKE, experimented on two our our horses, we believed they knew what they were doing with this handy-dandy new device, ruined their teeth, the stallion lived on soup twice a day from that day forward, his back teeth were ground down to nothing) … so do NOT tell me that expertise it there for veterinary use, … they do not KNOW HOW, …. they did not and probably still do not know about EPM disease, ponazuril, the after effects of it, how to treat it, rehab it, etc. my miles are more and my hands are dirtier, …!!! so i don’t think SO !!! im old, i’ve been doing this for years and years and i see, i watch, i learn, i ask !!! … if someone was to open the right clinics, cost effective, human and critters, the lines would be out the doors, for REAL medical, and REAL costs, and the costs ” would be covered ” !!! … even insurance. good business practices are just that,… can’t do it, hire an office manager that can, or bookkeeper, there are always OPTIONS !!! sadly it’s about money, more than it is about compassion or hard work. … only a fool would believe differently. … just sayin’ !!!

  71. The vets in Reno/Sparks Nevada charge a $60.00 per visit per pet for a “wellness exam”. From there the price begins to climb. I never seem to be able to walk out until my bill exceeds $150.00. I HAD insurance on my dogs. It’s more than $50 per month and does not cover most bills as the deductible is higher than the bill its self. Also, I worked for vets who were very concerned about their pet clients and owners. It cost money to go to college. But I am not in any way obligated to pay your student loans or your equipment. By jacking up your prices you are eventually going to lose clients. People who care for their pets will be forced to rehome them or take them to the shelter or euthanize them. To be asked to pay a $60.00 “wellness exam” fee to help you pay your student loans or equipment is one of the more stupid statements made in this article. My dogs have kennel cough. I know it will probably just run its course and I’m happy about that. But if my dogs become very I’ll I have no other option but to euthanize them. This is because I have already spent my grocery money to pay for a veterinarian visit this month. So make all the arguments as to how well trained you are and need all your fancy equipment and continue to treat people as if they are idiots. It’s your greed that will force you out of business. But then you could show your friends your equipment because without clients you will have plenty of spare time.

  72. Rachel says:

    Dr Rob,

    I went into the emergency vet yesterday afternoon with my two year old male as his urethea was out and he was constantly licking it.

    The vet said there was a ‘possibile’ blockage and wanted to put a catheter in to do some testing to find out what caused the blockage. They estimated the bill for the procedure to be 2.600. I agreed immediately making an emotional decision. I left and called my husband who was fuming as this was something we could afford. I rushed backed to the vet to see if there was anything else we could do. They already had him on the table and said the urethea was torn and that we were now looking up to 3.000. I asked what else could be done and was told if we couldn’t pay for the procedure we had no other option to uthenise him and so we did. It torn my heart apart as I had not expected all of this when we walked in.

    Could we have gotten away with giving him antibiotics?

  73. Suzanne says:

    The cost of veterinary care is out of control, just like human medicine. I rescued 2 healthy kittens and just for their FELV/FIV tests and vaccinations it cost me almost $500. My older cat was in last year with diarrhea and vomiting, and between blood tests and x-rays it was $800. I ended up treating him successfully with probiotics. Seriously, how is this justified?

  74. Debbie says:

    I, too, am concerned my long-time vet, that I adore, has begun charging too much. Can you please explain why I would be charged a $3.95 fee for biohazard disposition of one injection? Can it really cost my vet that much to dispose of one syringe? Or how much profit is being added to a very small expense? I feel about this like people feel about paying extra for putting baggage on a plane. It should be included in the price of the shot. I intend to take my sharps container next time and correctly dispose of any syringes myself. I’m not going to pay syringe disposition fee anymore. This vet has taken very good, if expensive, care of my animals. But I’m reaching a point in my socioeconomic situation that I may not be able to continue with that practice. Thanks for any explanation.

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  77. Jake Mass says:

    I’ve been a cat owner my entire life. I love my cat and do everything I can to make sure they live a good life. I have gone through many different vets over the years (mainly because of location at the time) But I find the difference in pricing with some the moment they see how much you love your animal sickening in my opinion. I understood about the few bad apples referance that you stated in your article, but from what I’ve seen its about 60% who do that, though 20% do it to cover the costs of other people’s pets who can’t afford them. Where you mentioned this in your article, why am I always forced to pay more because I get off my ass every day and work my ass off. (Yes I am fully aware many have a disability, or can’t do that. Though from what I’ve seen there are 4 lazy for every one who can’t actually work) I’m getting sick and tired of paying $85 for IV fluids supportive (which I was charged $5 for when I had a cat going through kidney failure) when I have my cats teeth cleaned (which the procedure puts me on a tight budget for the next couple months) just so some complainer who didn’t think “can I afford a dog?” before getting one, they pay less in rent thanks to government programs than I pay in my Condo fees, they drive a better viechile than me, and always have a full package of cigarettes. And my tax dollars not only cover their lifestyle, I now have to pay out to cover their pets as well. It’s not like they bother trying to fix their pets when they are young which is the reason for the explosion in the pet population and only bring their pet in once it is really sick or hurt. I don’t blame the animals here, but the fact that I have to cover for these people makes me sick to my stomach, or it could me the Mac and cheese I ate for dinner because of the extra I had to pay for his pets treatment as well. I am going to leave my vet for another because she can’t see the fact that she is just enabling their lifestyle and setting the example for his kids in the future as well. I don’t have an answer on what to do with his dog. But their should me mandatory fixing laws in place for everyone without a breeders licence. There are laws to vaccinate your pet, so we just add that to the tags as well.
    I’m sure there is nobody who would be willing to help cover costs for the few who deserve it, but most people are like others who have read your article and don’t want these underhanded methods to pay for people like them.

    Before I am condemned know that I am a blue collar worker, my family didn’t have much growing up, I have a disability, but am forced to work every day, and I known people just like that guy my entire life. A couple I’m still friends with, but they listened to my argument, and respected my belief even if they didn’t agree with it. (because they know I’m right.) So please commence with the throwing of stones, I can take it and argue everything I have stated, just make sure you can as well please and thank you.

    Doc I enjoyed your article.

    • Ray says:

      You must have voted for Trump. I think you overestimate the number of vets who charge the indigent less. 99% percent will turn you away if you don’t have the money. It’s not a charity, its a greedy business operation. Everyone pays the same. If you can’t afford the treatment your animal dies. Just like people.

  78. Noid says:

    1700.00 quoted to extract a tooth. I have been watching vets gouge me and my friends for the last 10 years. Preying on the emotional connection we have to our 4 legged kids. Relying on the fact that the law treats our 4 legged kids as chattle rather than loved ones.

    Vets have doctor envy, want to be just like them. Want to have the big house, the BMW, and the 4 vacations a year…

    Angry vet is simply trying to bully away the truth of the matter.

    Health care, just like any other practice, suffers under the egregious nature of profit motive. The greed and envy of inequality. As the bankers take more, the taxes take more, the added fees take more, then the professions take more.

    In ontario there is a feeding frenzy going on. You are the meal. And business is the predator. Vets, Hydro, telecommunications, food….

    everything goes up so the rich , and the wanna be rich, can take more for themselves.

    And unless you put an end to a corrupt banking system, your country WILL go bankrupt.

    • Noid says:

      Committee on Monetary and Economic Reform EST. 1986

      “Background: Two individual Canadians and COMER have confronted the global financial powers in the Canadian federal court. In early August 2013, the case was struck.”

      And the courts are just as bought and paid for as the politics are.

      Inequality insures cooperation from everyone who doesnt want to be poor.

  79. Sunny says:

    If there were a site called Angrypet, there would be a lot of growling over this post. While I don’t ever expect any one to treat my pets for free, it is sickening how many veterinarians pad bills with their “high end” and “low end” “estimates” and how many are horrible at diagnostics. As you said yourself (thanks for your honesty there), many vets push tests not needed, repeat vaccines lecturing you if you want to titer test, push tons of diagnostics that other vets would not, etc lecture you on home feeding selling you poor quality “prescription diet” last time I checked no “prescription” is legally required for any pet food on the market. It seems fraudulent to tell clients they need a prescription for food. They really pad the “estimate” when it’s a critical emergency situation late at night, holidays or weekends because they know the person is desperate and in a pinch. Why should a “specialty” vet or hospital who hires kids out of vet school every Spring to treat (and learn on your pet without telling you mind you) be allowed to charge five times what another vet would charge? It’s clear it’s about the money if it’s called an “estimate” it should be called a treatment plan not an estimate like you are talking about a broken car and selling like a used car salesman. You have obviously have not carefully researched (or ever had to use) Care Credit or Pet insurance plans. Care Credit does not offer “interest free” plans as you state plus not everyone gets approved for Care Credit they often reject people based on credit history and income. They may offer plans for a few months with low or zero interest but the minute that time period ends, you are responsible for the thousands you have had to put on Care Credit and when vet bills hit over $10,000 in a few days and growing with each vet visit, you may wind up with huge interest rates on top of it. If you believe so much in Care Credit, why don’t you suggest that vets take out this so called “no interest” card for your “$50,000” ultrasound machine that is a business expense instead of expecting clients to use the card for $50,000 in padded vet bills that they cannot write off for their animal dependents.? You should include that information if you are going to give pat answers to a “disgruntled client”. You neglect to state that many pet insurance plans will not cover older animals, pre-existing conditions or breed specific illnesses. Also, referring people to substandard low cost clinics, especially in a critical emergency where clinics like that do not have the proper equipment and waits can be very long is a dangerous recommendation. If treatment is going to be hefty $$$ and often it is with pets, then a vet should work with a client on a payment plan. . This can easily be put in writing in a legally binding agreement indicating monthly or weekly payments that both parties agree on with a reasonable amount of money up front. Asking clients to put thousands of dollars up front and more later and refusing to treat when they do not have it or have the credit is terrible, especially a longstanding client who has always paid bills. Financially circumstances can change for anyone at any time whether they have pets or kids. Yet, no one should have to choose between their pet’s suffering or death from veterinary refusal of treatment because of costly fees for pets but vets know animals have no rights and there are little consequences to incompetent vets especially the greedy ones. ! I’m talking about these vets that routinely charge thousands of dollars. I met a former vet hospital employee who was so fed up that he left many years in the veterinary business because he said he could not bear to see clients constantly gouged and taken advantage of. He said this was routine with vets now. I also think it’s very curious that so many vets ask people what they do for a living as if it’s any of their business. Cha-ching $$$$ is the magic answer they want to hear.

    • Anonymous says:

      Prescription food for allergies is no way to start treating a pet suspected of having allergies at $100 per bag. The vet should tell the client to buy food with only one type of meat in it and try that for two weeks, then another and another to test the pet for food allergies. It works and is much cheaper to do the food trial test. Greedy vets make fun of the disease the pet has or possibly has to set up loopholes to overcharge the clients. Clients, not being vets, cannot figure it out till they pay and get home. It is fraud.
      Veterinary schools should make a license above unlicensed vet technicians below vets, like ARNPs who can prescribe medicine. Pets could be seen faster, for less excessive care, and for lower prices. The risk of caring vets face would be reduced so they would have not as much excuse to fear treating our pets and overcharge us. Advanced Registered Veterinary Nurse Practitioners (ARVNP) could simply not demand a blood test when the owner cannot afford it, prescribe the medicine that relieves suffering, and wait for the owner to afford a blood test later once in awhile. Owners want to do what is right, but not before they can budget it in, and owners have to make thoughtful and sometimes very difficult decisions about what they can and cannot afford for their beloved pets. These are the owners pets, not the vets pets or scientific experiments. We need another class of people in veterinary care to see so many clients if vets cannot see us all for the prices we can afford. Also, the government has to take over veterinary and medical doctors how they practice and make them share expensive machines, and pay off their student loans slower if they need to, to make the vets need to stop trying to steal from clients or euthanize our pets.

  80. Jun Sasada says:

    By repeatedly citing the high cost of veterinary school, you seem to imply we should at least accept what appears to be price gouging.

    It’s not my fault they couldn’t get academic scholarships. My attorney doesn’t guilt-trip me about their student loans, nor would I expect it from a professional. If my MD ever brought it up I would leave immediately. Their financial savvy, or clear lack thereof, is none of my concern.

    Stop trying to make it a justification.

    • John Miller says:

      You are exactly right. I am a college professor, and, yes, the costs are skyrocketing for all academic disciplines. Still, if you can’t afford it, then just don’t go! The college debt crisis is untenable, and there will be a collapse, but the biggest problem is that the majority of college students shouldn’t even be there in the first place. In a service field like Veterinary medicine, one should care about the animals no matter what and should not use owners as creditors on past debt!

  81. Anonymous says:

    The vets should be required by law to share machines so as not to overcharge clients pets and extort clients to pay for extra tests instead of simply treating the suffering pets. Each vet does not need to buy so many very expensive machines just for their own place and they should already know this to provide services the majority of their clients (the not rich) need and want for their pets. Vets are also trying to make people’s pets love them better because they have more money and it is cruel to humans.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have been to two vets with my pet’s tail injury and both tried to make me believe she has bad hips and x-ray hips that would not show the tail at all and both did not address the tail injury at all. I had to beg for pain and muscle relaxant medicine and did not know what to really ask for while both ignored everything I said. Three vets kept ripping off my pet because she has allergies and made us try hugely expensive things or no help at all for three years and never told me they had medicine to help her. Her skin gets breakouts from allergies and she itches intensely continually, and finally I read of some new medicines for itching. It was expensive but I tried it, then noticed prednisone helps the same and costs much less at Walmart. But, the cruel vets will not accept that prednisone is a good medicine even after it has worked decades fine. It worked for her and relieved all symptoms. However, on top of their accusing prednisone of being very dangerous, they demand a blood sample from my pet to test when she is already fine and I cannot afford it right now or they will make her itch again and suffer by taking away her prednisone. They want blood tests saying prednisone is so, so dangerous and they are selling side effects instead of that it is good and for many for years with no side effects. They want everything to sound horrible to rob me and make me not have my pets so they can fill their pockets. They want people to have to call and go to all the vets in town pay their exam costs and then be told I have to pay more than I can afford and make my pet suffer and cry. They really ought to live in the reality of most people and stop cheating the people and complaining. The more we love our pets, the more they want to charge us and the pets do not want to cause that and only need a simply remedy that usually works. I do not want to pay for their many machines for rich and/or very sick clients to use that are not my pets and vets need to share machines so they can help everyone not overcharge middle and lower income to pay for machines we cannot afford and do not want to pay for their one office. Vets doing this overcharging should lose their licenses because it is malpractice to put money ahead of the patients and their suffering. It is the fault of the vets, not the pet owners who do not have more money and it is not a debate. They go to school and there are numerous other majors and vets and medical doctors student loan totals are not higher than all the rest, but are the same. Not every vet has to compete with other vets and in their field they should know they have to share equipment not charge clients for buying it. It is the equipment owned by the vets not the clients, so they need to share to afford it not take out their frustrations on their own clients and certainly not on pet animals.

  82. Kitty cat owner says:

    Bad Vets:
    I agree with your point that there are some bad vets out there. I also agree the cost of vet school and equipment has increased too much their by raising the cost of everything. The point is, this higher cost drives vets to become bad vets, insisting on performing unnecessary tests in order to pay off that expense MRI machine you mentioned.

    Expensive Unnecessary Testing:
    My roommate had a sick cat, the vet determined it was one of two things and insisted on 1000′s of dollars of testing to determine which of the two it was. In the end, my roommate discovered the treatment would have been the same regardless of which condition it was. This is why people have stopped trusting vets. In this case the vet should have done what is a common human doctor practice, a symptom diagnosis. Expensive testing was not needed.

    In an economy of inflation, where the cost of everything is rising and wages are not, people simply cannot afford to pay off the vets ultrasound machine with unnecessary testing. If people aren’t bringing their pets out for regular check ups or refusing services or prescriptions from vets, then that tells me the cost is too high and we need to work to lower it.

    Lowering the Costs:
    The cost of schooling for everyone, not just vets, is out of hand and something needs to be done. What exactly, I don’t know.

    I agree people should help lower the costs of pet care by getting pet insurance early if they can afford it; but vets also need to recognize, people simply do not have all this money to give them. Vets need to work to lower the cost of pet care also. This can be done by using symptom diagnosis whenever possible. Another thought, is to the use the same methods as online prescription retailers do to get low costing meds, OR simply just use 1-800 Pet Meds yourself and sell to clients at a slightly higher price. People might be willing to pay slightly more for a Rx to get it now, but people are NOT willing to pay 300 to 500 times the cost they can get it elsewhere. Maybe form a network of vet practices and share the more expense equipment at a centralized location, splitting the costs and thus lowering prices all around. This might be known as “out patience” procedures. Not every vet need a million dollar MRI machine. etc. etc.

    The unfortunately reality is being a vet is not the cash cow it used to be for many reasons, but the law of supply and demand are always in effect. If people aren’t buying you have to find a way to come down on price.

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  85. Carol Corley says:

    I have one question that no one has been able to answer! The question, why do you have to have a prescription to purchase some kinds of dog food! I have checked the laws on precription, from my understanding if anything contains any ingredients for medical purposes, it has to state it! No where on any of the dog foods I have look at have anything! So why do you have to have a precription to purchase? I looked up the people that started the food, it does seem to work, but mostly the Vets get money from it! Also if you carry any medical food or drugs you have to have a license for them! Pet Smart does not that I know of?

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  87. Gypsy G says:

    Wow…Had a drama in my life today and wanted to share the goodness in the outcome this Christmas day and maybe a thought for some to ponder..and man, did I get food for thought!! Loved every point of view. I will add this one thing..I personally view a career in medicine of any type…whether its treating humans or canines or feline or any other kinda lines…haha..totally separate from a career in something like say, manufacturing, sales, technology..etc. That’s why they put that little oath in there. If you choose medicine only for the money…then you chose the wrong career. I try to pick my doctors on the poor side of town if you get my meaning. And I really don’t mean anything bad that. I personally just feel more comfortable with a more..lets say..humble doctor. Which brings me to today….My 5 yr old Puggle who is my very best friend… had a flea hot spot on her tail. She kept messin with it until she got it raw and irritated. And then it seemed like over night she began just attacking it with her teeth..and she would yelp this horrible sound from the pain..but she was causing it and she didn’t seem to understand that she was causing the pain. It ended up looking like hamburger meat and it was getting shorter and shorter. I probably built a hundred designs of a tail bandage that stayed on all of 5 minutes. Then this morning I wake up and I smell it. And Im like OMG! Blood poisoning, infection. She has a regular vet where we have like a Care Plus card and we can make payments…but they are closed until next Monday. Today is Christmas. Is there any day of the year you could be any broker? I scour the internet and I find out that you can get a vet to just bandage a tail for you for like $35 bucks. Cool. Now wheres that Vet today. I called 32 vets and sent 27 desperate emails, begging for help. Two emergency vets offered help. One said come on in, its $120 for the initial exam and we will go from there. The other said come on in, its $140 for the exam and we will go from there. I said I don’t an exam. Its obvious whats wrong. I just don’t know how to bandage it properly until Monday so that she cant damage it anymore. They said ..hey…we understand..but..thats the thing…the doctor wont do anything until he does that exam. Cool. So I ask my daughter..”Have you ever heard of anyone going to jail for letting a vet fix their dog…then grabbing said dog and runnin out the door? She said, well, no now that I think about it. But, mom its probably robbing a vet or something. I said park the truck down the street and when you see us comin…crank her up.” I am not gonna lose my dog at this point sometime Sunday the day before my vet opens because I spent all my money on Christmas and I don’t have $140 for a stupid exam when her tail looks like its through a meat grinder. I was getting desperate at this point. Anybody that loves their dog can understand where I am comin from. I was about to give up and I decided to call one more. Call number 33. Dr. Good. I swear I’m not making this up. I had rehearsed the same story on so many answering machines that when this deep gruff sharp voice answered all of a sudden, all I could do was stutter and stammer and blurt out..”Sir, I have a true emergency, my dog is dying and I don’t have no money” OMG I finally get a real vet on the line and can you believe it? I should have said I got a million dollars…when can we come? lol He said I’ll be here 3 more hours, if you can get her here in that time, Ill save her” People, me and my grandson cried all 37 miles to Marietta Ga. That beautiful man gave up his Christmas as did his staff to save and doctor sick and hurt animals on Christmas day. Im embarrassed to tell you what he charged me but I will. He said, “How much can you pay?” And my grandbaby dug in his pocket and pulled out the Christmas money he had gotten that very morning, and said, “I only have $60.00 sir.” And Dr. Good said, “Then I reckon that’s how much it is.” That one right there folks aint gonna retire rich. But I bet he retires satisfied.


  1. [...] a problem with that, you’ve got the wrong vet and you should get another one, since they could be overcharging you in other ways. To boost your saving even further, if you go the the same website repeatedly to fill your pet’s [...]

  2. [...] The Cost of Veterinary Medicine | Angry Vet – The Cost of Veterinary Medicine. … Veterinary science has come a long way, … family type businesses, veterinary medicine has become unmanageable. [...]

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