Why Vet Care is SO Expensive


There is no getting around it, sharing your life with a pet is an expensive endeavor. There’s food, toys, grooming fees, pet-sitting or kennel boarding fees and the biggie: vet bills. You don’t want to deny your pet the care he desperately needs, but money doesn’t grow on trees. (If only!) But why are vet bills so darn expensive?

A typical/routine office visit costs you $60 to $90 just for walking in the door. X-rays start at about $150 or more. Yikes! To put it in perspective though, these figures are lower than what we humans would have to pay for the same procedures. How do vets set these prices? There are usually two components — and these are typically true for any service (from mechanics to the food service) — “fixed” costs and labor.

Fixed costs include the cost of supplies (such as the drugs used in a procedure), catheters, bandages, needles and other items during a treatment and also includes the ongoing costs of running a clinic — mortgage, salary of staff, electricity, internet, office supplies and the like. All these costs must be factored into the price of any service provided.

Labor cost is usually the dollar amount per hour that the veterinarian gets paid.

There is a “governing” body, in terms of a veterinary medical association that provides vets with an objective fee guide that they base on average costs and salaries for services provided. These prices are designed to reflect the affordability level for the clients and yet still allow the vet to be able to run a successful practice. The location of a vet’s office is always taken into account as well. An urban veterinarian’s office typically tend to charge more than a rural one, mainly because fixed costs are higher in urban areas.

If you’re wondering about the prices at your vet’s office, you are well within your rights to ask how they came up with their prices or even if they follow the price guidelines from your local Veterinary Medical Association. It is your money and your pet. Don’t assume that cheaper prices are the best way to go or that more expensive clinics are better.

There are constant medical advances occurring all the time to help our pets live their healthiest, longest lives possible. These procedures may not be cheap, but, ultimately, only you and your vet can decide what the best options are for you, your pet and your family at large.

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