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Up Up And Away....aka Escalating Vet Fees

 

 Barz
(@Barz)
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Joined: 2 weeks ago
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I know veterinarians have spent lots of $ on their education, training and costs of setting up a practice. I am aware that they have certain overhead costs to maintain their business. However, I am appalled at the escalating fees they are charging. People simply cannot afford to feed, license and vaccinate them owing to today's out of control economy. The shelters are overflowing and I read an article just the other day that they are 25-35% over their capacity....and you know what that means. Most shelters now have a very high kill rate. I have 4 rescue German shepherds. My costs to take care of them when coupled with putting food on the table for my family and other expenses (think gas prices in California, mortgage payments, yada yada yada) are astronomical. Many people can simply no longer afford to take care of their pets beyond supplying them with their basic needs; so they are resorting to dumping them or taking them to already overcrowded rescue facilities. I recently took one of my dogs to the vet because I wanted him to check out some fatty lumps on her body. He examined her for all of 4 minutes and said not to worry about it but to keep an eye on them. Then he asked if I wanted to have her nails trimmed to which I consented. I also needed two Bravecto  tablets for fleas. Grand total for my 12 minute visit: $280. FYI I was charged $80 per tablet for the meds (they're $49 each at Costco) and a whopping $23 to have the nails trimmed which took maybe 5 minutes. The latter service, in my opinion should have been included in the exam. The veterinarian that I had used for many years retired 5 years ago and I have tried in vain to find a replacement. Your thoughts and thanks for letting me "vent!"

Pet Type
Dogs

QuoteSolved
(@karel-carnohan)
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Joined: 12 months ago
Posts: 14
 

Hi,

It's okay to vent on this. I do it all the time. 

I will try to stay positive about things but this is the issue that made me decide to retire from practice.  I lost a lot of money because I refused to "overcharge" or "charge for every little thing" and I gave away too much - bleeding heart that I am. But what is "overcharging" in today's veterinary medical field?  What you described sounds a bit over the top...I mean $28 for a nail trim is ridiculous but it does cost the vet to have the tech do it. Between mortgage payments, insurance, payroll, supplies and everything else that costs to run a small business, I lost quite a bit of money. It did not help that I chose to provide rescue organizations low cost and free care - this was my therapy but it did not help the bank account.

The grim reality is that it is expensive to own and run a vet practice that provides good service. And it is getting worse. I chose to pay my staff living wages but I couldn't afford to give them health insurance or retirement plans. It is one reason many private vets are selling their practices to corporations. With that comes the requirement to price, price price because they want to make a decent profit. This unfortunately is not in your best interest. 

I'm retired and I now have to pay for my 11 cats medical treatments. I get a professional discount but here in California it cost me over $4000 for one cat's dental work (all teeth pulled!). I mean OMG. Believe me when I say I UNDERSTAND!

The only thing I can say is look for a private vet, not owned by a corporation who has reasonable pricing. I don't know where you live but they are out there ; support them because they are rapidly disappearing. There are many wonderful, caring vets out there who are holding out and won't gouge. 

I will also recommend pet insurance. I liked Trupanion but they don't cover pre-existing conditions or pets over a certain age.  

I will leave you with this: the veterinary industry is messed up. I recommended a product called Feliway for cats - it is a pheromone that you spray or use as a plug-in diffuser to calm cats. It works. From my supplier my cost to buy a starter kit (diffuser and cartridge) was about $20 and I had to charge $40 (standard markup). You, the client, could buy it from Chewy for $16.  I was marketing the product for the producer but they would not give me the same cost pricing as Chewy. I would send my clients to Chewy because I am honest. It is sad that honest vets have to take a hit.

I refused to declaw cats because it is an amputation that is absolutely cruel and inhumane but many vets declaw - it is a source of income. It is so sad.

I think we charged $12 for a nail trim but would always trim for free when a procedure was paid for. 

Most people become vets because of their love of animals not to become rich. I became a vet at the age of 50 because I wanted to help animals but if I had a child, I would not recommend the profession. Veterinarians have a very high rate of suicide. This makes me cry. 

I applaud you for taking care of your dogs. It is not easy but it is a labor of love.

Dr. Karel

 


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 Forest
(@Forest)
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Joined: 2 weeks ago
Posts: 2
 

I had two dogs groomed and could only afford to get their rabies shots.  $180.00.  I feel terrible that I couldn't get the rest of the shots they have always gotten or the worm/heartworm tests. 

My cat has to have c/d food.  That was $94.00.  Wow. 

I get my flea, tick, heartworm meds from Canada.  Huge savings.


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(@karel-carnohan)
Moderator
Joined: 12 months ago
Posts: 14
 

Hi. And groomers don't have to pay $300,000 to get a vet degree!  Beware of cheap flea/heartworm products - there is a large amount of fakes. They busted a company making fake packaging that looked authentic. I am not sure why Canada is cheaper; I lived there and things tended to be more expensive but right now the exchange rate is in your favour. One thing you can do is buy giant dog Revolution and split it up (unless you have giant dogs) I do this for my cats. It is much cheaper. 

I do the best I can. That is all we can ask of ourselves. 

Email me at drkarel47@gmail.com if you want calculations to divide up the Revolution.

Hang in there.

Dr. Karel


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(@karel-carnohan)
Moderator
Joined: 12 months ago
Posts: 14
 

One thing that I forgot to mention; most young vets are heavily indebted from their 4 years in vet school. If they want to improve skills, many do an internship after graduation. I was paid $20,000/year with no overtime for my internship. That barely covered by food budget 😉. Starting salaries in a large corporate owned clinic are good but not that good - you don't see young vets buying houses and fancy cars. They are paying down debt. This, combined with the emotional stress of the job, is a huge reason for the high suicide rates.

I am not telling you this to excuse what is happening in the profession; on the contrary, it is another symptom of it's dysfunctionalism. But know this when you are at the vet and your anger swells. 

I am retired so I am allowed this opinion but most working vets have a difficult time speaking of it.

Dr. Karel


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(@karel-carnohan)
Moderator
Joined: 12 months ago
Posts: 14
 

@Forest:  One thing that is very important: canned diet for your cat that is low in phosphorus. Here is a link: www.catinfo.org.  If your cat has urinary issues, dry food, even C/D, is working against you. If the C/D is preventative, there may be less-expensive canned alternatives. Speak to the vet about this and see what he/she says. It will depend on if your cat has crystals and what kind. Diluting urine with increased hydration can help prevent crystals. If it is just a problem of UTIs, lowering stress and increasing hydration (canned diet) may help a lot.


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