The ridiculous cost of veterinary care

The “ridiculous” cost of vet bills

“I always look at the cars in the parking lot to see what I’ve paid for.”

“I’ve personally funded these doctors’ retirements.”

“I’ve been coming here for 40 years and the costs just get more and more ridiculous.”

“If my dog ever needs hospitalization, I won’t pay for it.”

“It would be cheaper to put her down and get a new puppy than to fix her leg.”

“All they care about is money and how much they can squeeze out of you.”

The first 5 statements are actual things fellow pet owners have said to me while I’ve been waiting my turn at the vet, and the latter is a recurring theme in online reviews. Comments like the above are not only terribly misguided, but extremely hurtful to the veterinary professionals who have dedicated their lives to helping animals.

Your pet, your responsibility

I will confess, as the owner of a dog with chronic health issues, I have been guilty of bemoaning my vet bills. I got my dog not long before the 2008 recession and always told myself that as soon I could afford the monthly premiums, I would sign up for pet health insurance. Unfortunately, that time never came, and when he got sick in 2018, I ended up maxing out my credit cards.

It is 100% my own fault for not signing up for pet health insurance when I had the chance. It’s not the fault of the vets. In fact, it is thanks to vets, techs, and assistants who nursed him 24/7 for a week and his primary vet who doesn’t stop thinking about his patients on weekends and during family emergencies that he’s here with me now.

It is NEVER OK to take it out on vets and vet staff because they can’t afford to treat your pet for free. Otherwise, they would go out of business and thousands of other pets would lose access to the care they need.

Vets need to eat, too

Like all professions, veterinary medicine is a livelihood. Vets are people with bills to pay, kids to feed, and everyday expenses as we all have. But on top of those personal expenses, there are also business expenses just so they can open the clinic to see your pet.

Have you ever complained about the power bill on your single family home? Well, next time you’re at the vet, take a look at the size of the building and think about how much it would cost to keep the lights on and heat or cool 24/7.

Last time you were there, did you use their restroom, flush the toilet, and wash your hands? I sure hope you did, and if so, you would have used water, soap, and paper towels.

Did you notice that member of staff who mopped up your pet’s accident? Or the tech who gave your pet its injection and told you of the side effects to watch out for? They need to eat and pay rent, too.

Just to be able to open its doors to see your pet, the vet clinic has to pay for:

  • Lease/mortgage and utilities
  • Pet care and grooming supplies
  • Medical and surgical equipment
  • Pre-stocked medications and supplies
  • Building and grounds maintenance
  • Computers, pens, paper, and other office supplies
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Salaries, wages, benefits, employment and social security taxes
  • Business and liability insurance
  • And much more

There are many more lucrative careers with much less overhead that don’t require 8+ years of vet school, student loans that take decades to repay, not to mention getting bitten; scratched; peed, pooped, puked, and bled on on a daily basis.

To say that a vet only cares about money because you can’t or won’t pay for your pet’s care is not only unfair, but it causes a lot of emotional distress to the people who have worked and sacrificed a lot to be there for your pet.

So before you get on Yelp to rant about your vet bills, think about what you would do if the vet hadn’t taken on the huge expense and risk to be available to you in the first place.

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