Veterinary Doctors are some of the greatest human beings on Earth – they have to be, their kind and gentle hearts work on the most beautiful and pure souls imaginable. I admire their work and dedication to something as challenging as dealing with patients who can’t speak our language to be able to tell us exactly how they’re feeling.
One thing that has always been slightly confusing and very alarming to me is the unbelievable variance in price from one vet to another. If it was just a couple of hundred dollars I wouldn’t be so surprised, but when it’s a difference of a few thousand it really blows my mind!
What’s With The Pricing?
How do they justify the price hike? Does it depend on experience? Location? Overheads? Do all vets in a particular suburb decide to make their services excessively high to meet the socio-economic standards- or are they just trying to keep up with one another?
Don’t get me wrong, considering what their job entails I expect a visit to the vet to be expensive- just not to a point where they leave you financially wounded.
Sometimes I feel as though the sky’s the limit when it comes to getting a procedure done. There seem to be all these unexpected complications that lead to even more unforeseen charges and you’re stuck. I mean usually these extra expenses only pop up during the surgery, so you can’t very well refuse.
I understand that prior to committing to a pet you need to have emergency savings ‘for just in case anything unexpected happens’. What I’ve learned however is that depending on where you go, determines if your savings is going to be enough. For some veterinary surgeons I don’t believe that anything you have saved will ever actually be adequate!
Our pup had cancer. It was MASSIVE. And I was petrified. She was so sick and extremely weak. I needed to get help for her, but prior to committing to a vet, as well as knowing their experience- I needed to know the MAXIMUM outlay that they were going to charge.
I had to know. I couldn’t be surprised at the end of the surgery with any unexpected findings. All I wanted to know was what that figure was. They just needed to put a cap on it. But this was a near impossible ask!
An Impossible Question!
I called countless veterinary clinics and hospitals, in as well as out of area. I wasn’t trying to escape their consultation fee, I was merely attempting to obtain what their maximum charge would be for operating on a cancer. I knew they wouldn’t be able to give a rough estimate over the phone for approximately how much it would cost for our pup – but an idea of the worst case scenario, would have at least given me an indication of where I could and couldn’t take her.
Take Your Emotions Out
If you are found in the unfortunate situation where your beloved pet needs help, my first piece of advice prior to making those phone calls is to try and switch your emotions off as much as possible. Detach yourself as best as you can or your heart will take control.
I was met by a number of people at the other end of the phone who tried their hardest to get me in using guilt tactics!
“Your pup must be in so much pain right now”, “The longer you wait, the higher the chance of her dying” they said without me even asking.
Really? You don’t say! Wow well that thought never even crossed my mind thank you for bringing it to my attention – are all things I wanted to reply with, but didn’t, for fear of my voice trembling and me bursting into tears.
So Much Love
They already know you’re only calling because you have so much love invested in your pet that you would do anything to save them! If you didn’t you would simply abandon your pet somewhere.
You must be strong during these calls! Remember, at the end of the day it’s a business and some will say whatever they have to in order to get your business. They already know you’re scared and that you fear for the well-being of your pet, otherwise you wouldn’t be calling them. Don’t let them use this against you!
After no veterinary clinics or hospitals in my area would give me their maximum price, I began calling out of area vets.
And Then There Was One!
By relentlessly searching, pretending to keep a level head over the phone (even though I was absolutely DYING on the inside), I was fortunate enough to cross paths with a veterinary surgeon who was willing to give me his maximum price, taking into account everything that could possibly go wrong and including everything she would need after the surgery including all medications – that was providing she survived surgery.
He took her in, operated on her, and cared for her for five whole days in hospital. He went over and beyond my expectations, he saved her life! And is a real-life hero in my eyes. He knew what needed to be done because he had decades of experience, he had a long-standing, established veterinary hospital and he just didn’t have the time to surprise his clients with unforeseen costs. He was brilliant and if not for his willingness to state a maximum figure up front there is no chance that we would have been able to walk away from the ordeal without being severely financially hurt.
Vets Take Advantage!
As a lover of animals, it’s often felt in your heart that no price is too high to pay, and vets know this! Sometimes I think it’s a matter of taking advantage of people’s vulnerability knowing that pet owners will more than likely take out a credit card if need be just to have their much-loved pet safe and well.
I saved THOUSANDS on our pup’s surgery by calling around until I found someone who did their job with so much passion, dedication and love that they were willing to state what the worst-case scenario might be. He had performed this operation that many times that he knew all the complications that he could run into and he was willing to state that it wasn’t going to exceed a certain price point.
He wasn’t going to take advantage of the situation and charge like a wounded bull, he was upfront and honest without hiding a single element of what we could potentially incur. And this is precisely what I needed!
Do Your Research!
It honestly pays to do your research! As much as I know that all vets are wonderful for the amazing job that they do – sometimes you just need to know an estimate and I see nothing wrong in asking for one over the phone and saving your pet the ordeal of having to make many draining journeys to see each vet.
The difference of driving forty minutes opposed to fifteen can very well mean the difference of a couple of thousand dollars! Don’t be afraid to call out of area. Do your research, call around, and don’t let anyone take advantage of your vulnerability.
Obviously, the worst case scenario would be loss of life. But financially I just had to know where I stood. It would be unrealistic to think that you could get an exact amount for your particular circumstances over the phone, however, they should be able to tell you that it won’t exceed a certain amount at the very least.
Everything has a limit and vets have every right to charge what they feel is reasonable for their time and services. I just strongly believe that they should own that, feel self-pride and be able to quote a dollar value that their fees won’t exceed. Of course, no one will ever really know the end price until they begin the procedure, but as a worst-case scenario, a figure is extremely valuable. No one is going to complain if the bill comes in under what the maximum price stated is!
What Is The Limit!
Vets deserve to be paid what they deem necessary, but we also deserve to know that there is a limit and what that limit is upfront before they begin a procedure and without the use of guilt to torture your heart even more than the fear you’re already feeling for your best friend.
And Our Dog….
Thankfully our girl Doctor (that’s her name) is home safe and well and I feel unbelievably blessed to have this incredible outcome and to be able to experience the pure joy that she truly is once again!
What would be your tips to reduce your vet bill? Do you find vet bills excessive? Do you think vets manipulate us to get the maximum fee? Tell us in the comments below.