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.

You’re Stuck!

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!

How Much?

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.

pets and dog vet bill

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.

Ballpark Figure!

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.

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  • This is a terrible article. Not all vets are created equal. A “knee surgery” could literally be from $1200-$6000 depending on the type of procedure, the expertise of the vet and the clinic standards. I get it’s a lot of money and you want to do the best for your pet with what you have but that doesn’t mean they are ripping you off. With a “cancer”, a good vet will not know how much it might cost. Which cancer are we talking about? A benign skin cancer or one that can rapidly spread? Is it internal/external? Can surgery even fix it? Very often not.
    You do you but don’t blame it on the vet trying to do the best thing for your dog when you don’t like the price. There is no Medicare. They often use the same equipment humans use.
    Vet and vet nurses are very high risk for suicide because of this type of uneducated commentary. Love you guys who say find a vet you trust. Yes, and talk to your friends. If you can afford insurance that really helps But price shopping …hmmmm… would you choose a cheaper vet that has less safety measures to protect your pet, less good pain management and maybe didn’t even use different surgical kits between patients? That’s how they make it cheaper. If that works for you, go ahead. They’re the vet for you. If you want the best care you can afford, find a good vet you can trust. Do it for your pet.


  • The most important for me is finding a Vet that I can trust, who shows true connection with my pet and is always available and willing to discuss, in depth, my pets condition. I honestly wouldn’t just pick a Vet because they were the cheapest, anymore than I would pick a Doctor for myself for the same reason.


  • This article makes me feel so angry and hurt, I’m actually having massive anxiety writing this. I am a vet nurse, I see from the vets side. A lot of them get paid much less than what you would think. They don’t get paid based on how much money they make the clinic. They could make thousands for the clinic in one procedure, yet still take home less than $30 an hour. Whoever wrote this article really has no idea. Vet’s have the highest suicide rate due to articles like this.
    No appreciation for what they do.
    6 years of uni and massive hecs debt and then get paid very poorly. They do not do this job for the money, they do it because they are passionate about animals and helping/saving them.
    There’s no Medicare or government subsidy for vet care. They have to fund all their equipment and supplies themselves, this is why costs are higher.
    Very unimpressed with this article


  • When we got our puppy and it came time for her first vaccination I noticed, during the ring around that most vets charge very different prices for the exact same thing! I was recommended one that was around $60 cheaper than anybody else.
    Some vets are definitely in it for the money! When I was much younger I was out with my dad and brother, we came across a cat that had clearly been hit by a car. We scooped the poor thing up and drove for more than an hour to find a vet that was open (it was a Sunday), we finally found one and he all but refused to take in this cat for treatment because there was no promise of payment. It wasn’t our cat so they couldn’t charge us. I just thought that vet was such a horrible person. I thought they would want to help an animal in pain and suffering because it was suffering. He eventually decided to take the cat and we left. To this day I don’t know what happened to the cat. I can only hope it was saved and returned home


  • Find a good and trusting vet


  • I’ve only recently had a dog come into my life so I haven’t had to deal with such outrageous vet bills. I’ll be taking note of friends’ experiences so I’m prepared if need a vet.


  • I’m not an animal person, so I really find it hard to see how they justify these kinds of bills.


  • We have pet insurance for our Dachshund which gives 80 percent coverage. Was a godsend when he needed $7k worth of back surgery last year. I agree that their prices are crazy but we go to a vet that specialises in the breed so they have a better chance of a good recovery


  • After spending 2k on our cat for an xray and anaesthetic only to be told his arm was broken and had to be amputated (and quoted “it wouldn’t be more than 10k), I contacted an animal welfare league vet hospital. They did the consultation, surgery, 3 night stay, and meds, and follow up at 1/10th the price the other vet quoted. So now I only go to that vet as they are the most honest and time efficient.


  • Good tips. Pet insurance can be expensive as well, and you really need to check the fine print to see if it’s suitable for your particular pet.


  • Etc bills are just ridiculous and expensive that’s for sure!


  • So many great tips here! Some things you don’t figure out until you’re in that position too. The amount I spent at the vet when I first got my puppy, in the first 2 years was rediculous. Then I started getting savy….


  • Whilst I agree that calling around to find the best price is a good idea, it is almost impossible to give an accurate price over the phone for something like a lump removal without seeing it first. It is like asking ‘How long is a piece of string?’. If the vet sees the problem first hand they are better able to give an accurate price.


  • I certainly think insurance is needed to cover these costs when you have a pet.


  • Thank you for sharing. We doesn’t own animal but its good to know.


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