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Posted on 12-20-2016

Veterinary health care is expensive and rightfully concerned pet owners sometimes assume that it must mean the veterinarian and staff members are rolling in the money or that they are being ripped off. This is usually a long way from the truth and there are a lot of factors that influence the bill you pay at the end of your visit. Here is a break down to help you understand:

First off, there are some big expenses incurred in the running of a vet hospital like fixed overhead. Overhead includes rent, utilities, taxes, insurance, maintenance, and medical disposal fees. There’s inventory which includes medications, a plethora of medical supplies, and foods. Big initial investments like diagnostic equipment such as x-ray, ultrasound, anesthesia machines and monitoring, instruments and tools, and sometimes in house laboratory machines are very costly. Then there are salaries as often a myriad of people contribute to the care your pet receives besides the doctor, from technicians to assistants and their continuing education, to receptionists and kennel attendants.

Now, your vet bill includes a lot of items that in human medicine are typically split up. For example- if you break a leg, you may get billed for the doctor’s time, the x-ray technician, the radiologist, the anesthesiologist, the surgeon, hospitalization, the pharmacy for medications, etc. separately. At the vet, you get one bill with all those charges which can often be overwhelming in what can be an emotional situation.

The bottom line is your vet isn't just a primary care office; it can be a radiology center, laboratory, pharmacy, hospital, and food store. That’s a lot! In addition, there are no subsidies for veterinary medicine like human medicine (Medicare, Medicaid, etc.). And not many people have pet insurance to offset costs.

Loving our pets is a commitment of both time and money but there are some ways you can help lessen the financial burden like preventing problems, feeding a healthy diet, and pet insurance. Before you consent to anything you can ask for an itemized estimate from your vet if they don’t already provide them. And always ask questions before committing to treatments if you don’t understand. You and your vet only want the best for your furry friend.