How to avoid high vet bills?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Topic Author
RobLyons
Posts: 490
Joined: Tue Oct 31, 2017 12:55 pm

How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by RobLyons » Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:00 am

We have a 5 year old black lab mix (with Sharpei) that we got from a local shelter when he was a pup. Only problem has been lime disease but that's been treated. We have a good local vet that we trust. But I have noticed every time I take him for a checkup, the bill is $150-$250 for well visits.

So my question is, has anyone here found a way to avoid these high fees? I'm considering shopping around for prices, but our vet is ultra local and friendly so I have no complaints or concerns besides out of pocket cost. Here are the costs from today


$37 Fecal Examination (brought in poop sample)
$57 4DX - Heartworm Test (LW, Lyme, E)
$64 Examination - Office visit
$37 Kennel Cough Oral
$35 Leptospirosis
------------------------------------------------
$230 Total



Thanks
"Great parenting sets the foundation for a better world"

Teague
Posts: 1645
Joined: Wed Nov 04, 2015 6:15 pm

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by Teague » Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:16 am

I'm not a vet, but having discussed this with a few vets it seems the issue is mostly overhead. Office lease, staff, and all that other expensive stuff. Counter-intuitively, our large animal vet (horse) is usually quite a bit cheaper. The reason being her office is just an older pickup truck, and no staff to support.

Shop around of course, but pay attention to the quality of service you get, too. We have vets close by but choose to take our small animals to a vet an hour away - and he's not cheap, either. What he is, though, is very sharp, an excellent diagnostician, up to date on his knowledge, and a very good and experienced surgeon. We are happy to pay for all that.
Semper Augustus

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 22351
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by dm200 » Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:19 am

Be willing to "replace" the dog sooner - and do not spend much at all on vet bills.

I grew up on a farm - and most folks had dogs - BUT spent very little on vet bills.

Usually cheaper to replace the dog than spend a lot on these vet bills.

goblue100
Posts: 1025
Joined: Sun Dec 01, 2013 10:31 am

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by goblue100 » Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:27 am

Do you board him? If not he doesn't need the kennel cough. Other than that I would say it is the cost of responsible pet ownership and the fee's seem in line with what I pay.

Edit: Also, if he has been on heartworm preventive I would question the need for the heartworm test.
Financial planners are savers. They want us to be 95 percent confident we can finance a 30-year retirement even though there is an 82 percent probability of being dead by then. - Scott Burns

Yukon
Posts: 257
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2008 8:10 am

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by Yukon » Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:30 am

Quit taking the dog to the vet.
Don't Work Forever.

Swansea
Posts: 761
Joined: Sat Feb 13, 2016 5:16 am

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by Swansea » Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:38 am

goblue100 wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:27 am
Do you board him? If not he doesn't need the kennel cough. Other than that I would say it is the cost of responsible pet ownership and the fee's seem in line with what I pay.

Edit: Also, if he has been on heartworm preventive I would question the need for the heartworm test.
I strongly disagree with avoiding the testing for HW. Dogs on the preventative can contract the disease, and if they do, the preventative can be very harmful. Ten years working in rescue with numerous Vets has given me insight.

doneat53
Posts: 87
Joined: Tue Jul 04, 2017 1:23 pm

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by doneat53 » Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:46 am

Also frustrated with these high costs. In many cases the costs are more than we charge humans....

Yearly boosters aren't always necessary, especially in healthy pets. You can check antibody titers for pretty cheap independently of your vet by mailing a blood sample to several online labs. Of course if you have your vet do it the cost will be more than the booster.

Personally I avoid annual well dog checks unless I'm concerned about something specific.

doneat

User avatar
BarbaricYawp
Posts: 147
Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2014 1:29 pm

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by BarbaricYawp » Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:58 am

While I completely respect the profession, the small animal vets seem to me to be catering to a clientele that wants a canine pediatrician and prices their services accordingly. Whenever there is something even slightly more sinister than vaccines/neutering involved they quickly refer to a specialist, so essentially they collect, then send you along to the people who actually have the skills to properly diagnose. I long ago established a good relationship with a specialty vet that I can self-refer to in the rare cases when we are dealing with something catastrophic. At this point I take my dogs to the 'regular' vet only so I can get their heartworm prescription renewed. And then I get the prescription filled online (valleyvet.com or heartlandveterinary.com are 2 good ones), which saves me at least 30%. :)

Couple of thoughts on your question. You need to have a veterinarian do the rabies shots (annual initially, but good for 3 years after that) so you can get the certificate in case your dog is either exposed to rabies or bites someone. However you don't need to go to a veterinarian office to get that done. Here in Virginia there are low-cost rabies clinics either county-sponsored ($15-25/shot) or through 'vet clinics' offered at local stores such as Tractor Supply, Petsmart etc. There may even be mobile options where you are.

For the balance of the shots, you can buy 6-way or 9-way shots from farm stores (again, Tractor Supply is the local go-to. See https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/produ ... th-syringe for an example). Look at what the vet has been giving and you will be able to figure out which one you need for your area. These are given sub-cutaneously, not intra-muscular or intravenous, so are pretty darn safe, particularly if you are dealing with boosters so you know the animal isn't likely to have any kind of adverse reaction. $12-15 for that. If you are squeamish about the vaccination or dealing with young animals or one where you don't know their vaccination history, at least call to see what the cost would be from the same storefront clinics vs the vet.

We do all our own vaccines for horses, cattle, dogs, and cats EXCEPT the rabies vaccines on the dogs and cats. For those I bundle everyone into a car and take them to the low-cost clinic every few years. It makes for great entertainment to see all the various critters standing in line with their people. :)
"The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity." --Dorothy Parker

maroon
Posts: 351
Joined: Tue Sep 08, 2009 11:59 pm

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by maroon » Mon Jun 17, 2019 10:16 am

My dog is 18 and hasn't needed to be "replaced" yet. I've taken him to several vets over the years, and I've noticed pricing isn't super consistent. So my advice would be to check other veterinarians' pricing. I'm very happy with the current vet, which was a referral from neighbors. (I've also reviewed Yelp's "The Best 10 Veterinarians in XXX City" list, and and a more expensive vet I didn't particularly like was recommended.)

livesoft
Posts: 68608
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by livesoft » Mon Jun 17, 2019 10:40 am

Vets in wealthy ZIP codes charge more. Just picking a vet in a less well-off ZIP code may reduce the prices quite a bit. Same goes for orthodontists.
Wiki This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 22351
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by dm200 » Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:07 am

doneat53 wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:46 am
Also frustrated with these high costs. In many cases the costs are more than we charge humans....
Yearly boosters aren't always necessary, especially in healthy pets. You can check antibody titers for pretty cheap independently of your vet by mailing a blood sample to several online labs. Of course if you have your vet do it the cost will be more than the booster.
Personally I avoid annual well dog checks unless I'm concerned about something specific.
doneat
Sure are!!

Our son and daughter-in-law have a dog. They spend a LOT on vet bills.

fru-gal
Posts: 1187
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2019 9:48 pm
Location: New England

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by fru-gal » Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:09 am

There are good vets and bad vets. Good vets are worth whatever they charge.

Do you "replace" your kids if they have high medical bills? How about the spouse, is he/she out the door if they get costly?

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 22351
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by dm200 » Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:11 am

fru-gal wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:09 am
There are good vets and bad vets. Good vets are worth whatever they charge.

Do you "replace" your kids if they have high medical bills? How about the spouse, is he/she out the door if they get costly?
Dogs are not "children", nor are "children" dogs. I value people much more than animals.

IMO
Posts: 661
Joined: Fri May 05, 2017 6:01 pm

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by IMO » Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:14 am

RobLyons wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:00 am
We have a 5 year old black lab mix (with Sharpei) that we got from a local shelter when he was a pup. Only problem has been lime disease but that's been treated. We have a good local vet that we trust. But I have noticed every time I take him for a checkup, the bill is $150-$250 for well visits.

So my question is, has anyone here found a way to avoid these high fees? I'm considering shopping around for prices, but our vet is ultra local and friendly so I have no complaints or concerns besides out of pocket cost. Here are the costs from today


$37 Fecal Examination (brought in poop sample)
$57 4DX - Heartworm Test (LW, Lyme, E)
$64 Examination - Office visit
$37 Kennel Cough Oral
$35 Leptospirosis
------------------------------------------------
$230 Total



Thanks
Not a vet, but from multiple dog experiences some thoughts:

For vaccinations, check with your local animal shelters as they may do low cost clinics (spouse volunteers on a very regular basis).

Keep your dog healthy, active, and not let him get overweight. But there are a number of potential "mistakes" I see people do with active dogs (especially larger breeds like labs):

a) Don't let them jump in/out off higher heights, an example might be in/out of one's pickup trucks bed/tailgate. It all looks innocent, but they can injure their joints. With injury/arthritis in a leg(s), the cycle of obesity is hard to overcome as they are limited in their activities. Obesity is linked with higher health risks, and a dog that develop diabetes has definitively higher costs. Try to take care of a joint injury, that will cost you big time.

b) Run them, but don't make everyone of their runs a marathon. Might seem nice to jump on a bike and have the dog run and follow for miles and miles but this really puts long term stress on their joints. Regular exercise keep it moderate otherwise have same risk noted above. If your in areas with lakes/bodies of water, swimming is less stressful on joints.

c) Teeth. Not sure the best route to take care of these (brushing which just seems burdensome?) or chew type of toys or products that keep them clean (not sure how effective??). Dental care is very expensive.

d) Food. Don't really want to bring food up. Some advocate very expensive foods and perhaps those help. We've raised a few large dogs into their mid-teens with less expensive dry food and less expensive wet foods. Was it their food that mattered in the end? Personally not in our cases, and I suppose the money saved offset some vet costs (but maybe it isn't significant). Again, don't want to derail into this topic/rabbit hole.

e) End of life health care. This is where things can get expensive. This is where emotions can make it hard to not want to spend money to do whatever is necessary. Even just the examination fees (if you opt to not treat) with x-rays, labs and other tests get expensive. With our last 15 yr old pet, with great sadness I knew it was time and we just passed on pursuing end of life vet care. Brutal to make that type of decision.

f) Luck. Sometimes, like people, one's pet develops issues that are out of your control that require ongoing health care/or can result in premature death. Some just have good genes and live very long lives.

With the many dogs that have been in our family/extended family, we really were never the type that always took a pet in on a regular basis for things like wellness checks annually. Obviously there is benefit to do this and catch health conditions early (such as diabetes, etc). When I dog had an issue with health, we typically could tell and went in to have them evaluated, but we never just did the annual examinations. Know your dog and if something doesn't seem right, it probably isn't. Again, probably just the luck aspect.

g) Get educated. The internet actual is a very good source of education. No you're not going to be qualified as a vet, but one can find good information with the right sources to give you better understanding on various health conditions, how they are managed, etc. Thus, when you do go to the vet, you can properly discuss the various options available/costs and make a well informed decision.

h) Medications. Educate on how to make those more cost effective. It could be pill splitting, generics, alternatives to the newest most expensive drugs, etc.

i) Pet Insurance????? Never had this and this has been discussed on threads in past. Does it save money? I suppose it ends up going back to that "luck" thing. However, like many insurances, making out on insurance reimbursements may mean one is dealing with something that they would rather not deal with in life.

-----

Vet care is one of those areas that far exceeded inflation. There are tests/imaging paid in cash that will often cost MORE than what an equivalent test/imaging for a human would be reimbursed via human health insurers (without the liability concerns/issues). However, vet education is the same cost as any post graduate education such as medicine, school debt is often similar, equipment/facilities/staff are all very expensive. Ironically, the vets themselves are not making typically super high incomes, but instead as everything is shifting to corporate owned vet care, those higher up on the corporate ladder are typically making the high salaries.

In the old days, the cost of vet bills weren't something that many really worried about prior to getting a pet. Nowadays, one needs to really think about it which is quite unfortunate. Fortunately most pets do well with little need for vet intervention.

User avatar
8foot7
Posts: 1664
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2015 7:29 pm

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by 8foot7 » Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:21 am

I agree with you that a simple well visit to our vet is easily $175. The latest "thing" is they like to do bloodwork annually to keep on file, but then I did that and then six months later went in for a teeth cleaning for the dog and they wanted to do the bloodwork again "to see if anything's changed." Then our last well visit they wanted the bloodwork again ($55 a pop). I asked why they thought a healthy beagle who is 4 years old needed three sets of bloodwork within 12 months and the tech mumbled about "it's good to see trends" and maybe that's true for an 11 year old dog with tons of problems but a 4 year old dog with no issues doesn't need that, sorry.

I think we can see what's happening here. I mean, I like our vet a lot and he does a lot of pro bono work with shelters but I don't pretend that I'm not subsidizing to some extent that work. He also just built a very nice new facility from scratch, very nice, and that money comes from somewhere.

Trouble is, most places around here are the same way and I'm not driving across town with the dog to save $40.

As for avoiding high bills? I don't know how to put this mildly, and I love our dog to pieces, but we're not spending $10k on him. I don't know where our line is but it's south of 10k. Maybe even south of 5k. I did spend $2,500 on a cat one time, that cat continued to hate me, and so it's probably around there.

Other things

* get rabies vaccine at a public clinic
* skip "well" visits when your pet seems healthy -- maybe go once every 2 or 3 years
* keep the flea and tick medicine going to reduce chance of disease
* keep pet active
Last edited by 8foot7 on Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
BogleFanGal
Posts: 391
Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:59 pm

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by BogleFanGal » Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:28 am

This doesn't directly answer OP's question regarding standard shots and wellness, but for other pet owners interested in the topic of vet costs in general, it's been very enlightening to me to discover how differently two vets can be in terms of diagnosis philosophies - and how much that affects my costs. I learned that lesson the expensive way.

Some vets diagnose "bottom up" - they try to do as few tests as possible in the beginning - looking for the simpler, more common root causes for a problem first, working their way up the level of complexity. (The vet I have now.)

Other vets (I notice this a lot with younger vets/recent grads) employ a "top down" approach (like the one I fired.) They insist on a battery of expensive tests right from the start to explore and isolate every possibility. They scare you to death with all the grave possibilities.

More often than not, it turns out to be a simpler, more common problem and fairly easy fix. But by then, you've already been worried sick waiting on all the test results, (for those like me who consider pets family and will fork out a lot for care vs just put them down,) and dropped $500-1k or more on bloodwork, testing and consults. Then rinse & repeat a year or two later when there's another problem. :annoyed

When new owners turned my old vet's office into a top-down clinic and added arrogant new docs fresh out of expensive vet schools, avg costs skyrocketed. After getting burned a couple of times, many people (including me) left.
"Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen." Mark Twain

Topic Author
RobLyons
Posts: 490
Joined: Tue Oct 31, 2017 12:55 pm

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by RobLyons » Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:30 am

dm200 wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:19 am
Be willing to "replace" the dog sooner - and do not spend much at all on vet bills.

I grew up on a farm - and most folks had dogs - BUT spent very little on vet bills.

Usually cheaper to replace the dog than spend a lot on these vet bills.

Today was a follow up from his Lyme disease.
These are just the recommended vaccines/maintenance.. Wasn't even given an option.
He's a young healthy dog, I don't expect him dying anytime soon.. So was just wondering what others do..
"Great parenting sets the foundation for a better world"

Topic Author
RobLyons
Posts: 490
Joined: Tue Oct 31, 2017 12:55 pm

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by RobLyons » Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:31 am

goblue100 wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:27 am
Do you board him? If not he doesn't need the kennel cough. Other than that I would say it is the cost of responsible pet ownership and the fee's seem in line with what I pay.

Edit: Also, if he has been on heartworm preventive I would question the need for the heartworm test.

We don't board him. I did think that was odd when I read the bill. But the med was already given so I had no choice.. Should have asked for an explanation of services and costs up front I suppose..
"Great parenting sets the foundation for a better world"

Turbo29
Posts: 600
Joined: Tue May 01, 2018 7:12 am

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by Turbo29 » Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:32 am

dm200 wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:19 am
Be willing to "replace" the dog sooner - and do not spend much at all on vet bills.

I grew up on a farm - and most folks had dogs - BUT spent very little on vet bills.

Usually cheaper to replace the dog than spend a lot on these vet bills.
Yep, on Bogleheads, it's ALL about the money.

Topic Author
RobLyons
Posts: 490
Joined: Tue Oct 31, 2017 12:55 pm

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by RobLyons » Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:34 am

doneat53 wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:46 am
Also frustrated with these high costs. In many cases the costs are more than we charge humans....

Yearly boosters aren't always necessary, especially in healthy pets. You can check antibody titers for pretty cheap independently of your vet by mailing a blood sample to several online labs. Of course if you have your vet do it the cost will be more than the booster.

Personally I avoid annual well dog checks unless I'm concerned about something specific.

doneat


This is along the lines of what I was thinking. Do my own research and testing if possible..
My next visit won't be for a couple years for rabies booster. But will be around $80-$130 either way, with the office visit charge.
"Great parenting sets the foundation for a better world"

Topic Author
RobLyons
Posts: 490
Joined: Tue Oct 31, 2017 12:55 pm

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by RobLyons » Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:36 am

Yukon wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:30 am
Quit taking the dog to the vet.

I wish. He has to stay up to date with rabies in order to keep his dog license. And this visit was follow up from his Lyme disease.
Spacing out our trips after this
"Great parenting sets the foundation for a better world"

User avatar
Doom&Gloom
Posts: 3025
Joined: Thu May 08, 2014 3:36 pm

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by Doom&Gloom » Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:38 am

Too late for OP's situation (good luck, OP; I feel your pain), but people need to educate themselves about these expenses prior to picking up that cute little puppy or kitten. I'm afraid that the bulk of these expenses simply go with the territory of being a responsible pet owner.

User avatar
BogleFanGal
Posts: 391
Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:59 pm

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by BogleFanGal » Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:38 am

8foot7 wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:21 am
As for avoiding high bills? I don't know how to put this mildly, and I love our dog to pieces, but we're not spending $10k on him. I did spend $2,500 on a cat one time, that cat continued to hate me, and so it's probably around there.

:P Too funny about the cat.

End of life is definitely the tough fork in the road - when is it time to say goodbye vs when when does it make sense to spend a big chunk of savings to save their life? I've found a good vet was invaluable and a great comfort in helping me make that decision - what's the expected quality of life after the surgeries/treatment? How much time does it really buy us? Does it make sense for the pet? . A bad or greedy vet could easily manipulate that same emotional situation with a loving pet owner to their own best interests.
"Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen." Mark Twain

THY4373
Posts: 1195
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2012 3:17 pm

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by THY4373 » Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:39 am

Honestly given their training I don't find vets particularly expensive compared to other highly trained individuals. That said I also have a vet I find quite honest they don't push vaccines that are not needed for my indoor cats. They haven't ever done blood-work on a healthy cat that I can recall. Basically I take the kitties in once a year and this year their annual checkup which included a couple of vaccines came out to $178 for two cats. That seems very reasonable to me.

stan1
Posts: 7715
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2007 4:35 pm

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by stan1 » Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:39 am

livesoft wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 10:40 am
Vets in wealthy ZIP codes charge more. Just picking a vet in a less well-off ZIP code may reduce the prices quite a bit. Same goes for orthodontists.
This is a real thing. Drive an hour out into a rural area and see what the prices are there.

mptfan
Posts: 5639
Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2007 9:58 am

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by mptfan » Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:39 am

dm200 wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:11 am
fru-gal wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:09 am
There are good vets and bad vets. Good vets are worth whatever they charge.

Do you "replace" your kids if they have high medical bills? How about the spouse, is he/she out the door if they get costly?
Dogs are not "children", nor are "children" dogs. I value people much more than animals.
I agree.

Turbo29
Posts: 600
Joined: Tue May 01, 2018 7:12 am

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by Turbo29 » Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:52 am

I had a cat that at~1yr old came down with a fungal infection (cryptococcus). I read some veterinary journals and found that the cure rate with treatment was near 100%. Treatment was about $2K but the cat lived 18 more years.

I tell this story about the cat to any vet I deal with the first time I see them and then say, "If the treatment will likely result in the animal getting better then I will most likely go with it. But if it is just an intervention to prolong the inevitable, no." Every single vet has always replied that they understand my stance and respect it.

THY4373
Posts: 1195
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2012 3:17 pm

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by THY4373 » Mon Jun 17, 2019 12:00 pm

Turbo29 wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:52 am
I had a cat that at~1yr old came down with a fungal infection (cryptococcus). I read some veterinary journals and found that the cure rate with treatment was near 100%. Treatment was about $2K but the cat lived 18 more years.

I tell this story about the cat to any vet I deal with the first time I see them and then say, "If the treatment will likely result in the animal getting better then I will most likely go with it. But if it is just an intervention to prolong the inevitable, no." Every single vet has always replied that they understand my stance and respect it.
This is pretty much my approach as well. I had a one year old cat (yes one year old) that had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Basically it was causing fluid build up in the lung which caused him to feel essentially as if he was drowning. Basically all we could do was drain the lungs but given how early it appeared the prognosis was not good and the quality of life wasn't there. So we unfortunately euthanized him though I would have been willing to spend $1000s if would have cured him or given him an acceptable quality of life. The next cat we got also had a heart defect. We went to the kitty cardiologist and he said there was a good chance the cat could do well long term. So we took a chance. He did fine for a couple of years and then started showing the heart muscle getting thicker he was put on some heart medicine that is like $5 for three months and that stopped the degeneration he is nine years old now and doing just fine with visits to the cardiologist every two years (he now lives with my ex).

tony_roach
Posts: 92
Joined: Sun Nov 19, 2017 2:05 pm
Location: Philadelphia

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by tony_roach » Mon Jun 17, 2019 12:06 pm

I manage it by including a wellness plan from Banfield into my monthly budget. All the annual check ups, shots, teeth checking and cleaning are included. It may not be the absolute cheapest but it let's me plan/anticipate a consistent cost for my dog's vet care.

Thegame14
Posts: 1295
Joined: Mon May 07, 2018 11:53 am

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by Thegame14 » Mon Jun 17, 2019 12:08 pm

that isn't just a wellness visit, the vet did two tests, that is perfectly reasonable cost for a vet visit with two tests done.

User avatar
DanMahowny
Posts: 994
Joined: Sun Aug 06, 2017 8:25 pm

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by DanMahowny » Mon Jun 17, 2019 12:56 pm

RobLyons wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:00 am
$37 Fecal Examination (brought in poop sample)
$57 4DX - Heartworm Test (LW, Lyme, E)
$64 Examination - Office visit
$37 Kennel Cough Oral
$35 Leptospirosis
------------------------------------------------
$230 Total
Here's mine (from last week)

$29 Fecal Examination (brought in poop sample)
$53 4DX - Heartworm Test (LW, Lyme, E)
$50 Examination - Office visit
$21 Kennel Cough Oral
$19 Leptospirosis
------------------------------------------------
$172 Total

My itemized bill also had a 3yr-booster vaccine and I was charged $26, so $198 total.
Funding secured

LK2012
Posts: 242
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 4:42 pm

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by LK2012 » Mon Jun 17, 2019 12:59 pm

Health care is expensive for all members of the family. Buy health insurance for your dog. It's worth it, especially when they get older.

ponyboy
Posts: 781
Joined: Fri Feb 06, 2015 10:39 am

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by ponyboy » Mon Jun 17, 2019 1:07 pm

If you cant afford a dog, dont get one. If you're concerned with how much vet bills will cost, dont get a dog. Its pretty simple.

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 22351
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by dm200 » Mon Jun 17, 2019 1:11 pm

ponyboy wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 1:07 pm
If you cant afford a dog, dont get one. If you're concerned with how much vet bills will cost, dont get a dog. Its pretty simple.
Yes

quantAndHold
Posts: 3438
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:39 pm

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by quantAndHold » Mon Jun 17, 2019 1:19 pm

That’s similar to what we pay.

The local humane society has a vaccine clinic. We stand in line to save a lot of money on vaccines.

You also have the option to say no to anything the vet wants to do. If they’re rushing the dog off to do stuff without discussing why you need it or how much it’s going to cost, it might be time to either have a heart to heart discussion with the vet, or find someone else. Our current vet understands that costs matter, and we discuss the cost and necessity of everything he wants to do up front. That’s part of why we like him.

Over the years, one of our biggest vet expenses has been dental. Teeth brushing is an annoying thing to have to do, but it does reduce the need for expensive dental care. The dental treats help, too.

Insurance can flatten out the cost so that you don’t get sticker shock when they have an illness, but it probably won’t reduce the overall cost.

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 22351
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by dm200 » Mon Jun 17, 2019 1:33 pm

A friend of mine has spent a lot on one of his dogs. The dog has cataract surgery. The dog is also diabetic - so needs daily insulin shots. :dollar :dollar :dollar

NewOldGuy
Posts: 158
Joined: Mon Jul 30, 2018 12:37 am

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by NewOldGuy » Mon Jun 17, 2019 1:36 pm

dm200 wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:11 am
fru-gal wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:09 am
There are good vets and bad vets. Good vets are worth whatever they charge.

Do you "replace" your kids if they have high medical bills? How about the spouse, is he/she out the door if they get costly?
Dogs are not "children", nor are "children" dogs. I value people much more than animals.
On the other hand, if one values their dog as they value their toaster, perhaps owning pets is not a good choice for them. Too many pet owners choose to eliminate the problem, and the pet, at the first hint of health issue.

quantAndHold
Posts: 3438
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:39 pm

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by quantAndHold » Mon Jun 17, 2019 1:38 pm

dm200 wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 1:33 pm
A friend of mine has spent a lot on one of his dogs. The dog has cataract surgery. The dog is also diabetic - so needs daily insulin shots. :dollar :dollar :dollar
I’m one who believes that dogs are not disposable, but given the current price of insulin, I’m not sure I could do that.

Yukon
Posts: 257
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2008 8:10 am

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by Yukon » Mon Jun 17, 2019 1:51 pm

RobLyons wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:36 am
Yukon wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:30 am
Quit taking the dog to the vet.

I wish. He has to stay up to date with rabies in order to keep his dog license. And this visit was follow up from his Lyme disease.
Spacing out our trips after this
Isn't rabies every 3 years? And a follow up for lyme? Was the dog sick?
Don't Work Forever.

Swansea
Posts: 761
Joined: Sat Feb 13, 2016 5:16 am

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by Swansea » Mon Jun 17, 2019 2:14 pm

Yukon wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 1:51 pm
RobLyons wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:36 am
Yukon wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:30 am
Quit taking the dog to the vet.

I wish. He has to stay up to date with rabies in order to keep his dog license. And this visit was follow up from his Lyme disease.
Spacing out our trips after this
Isn't rabies every 3 years? And a follow up for lyme? Was the dog sick?
First rabies shot is good for one year, then every 3 years thereafter

User avatar
DanMahowny
Posts: 994
Joined: Sun Aug 06, 2017 8:25 pm

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by DanMahowny » Mon Jun 17, 2019 2:21 pm

quantAndHold wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 1:38 pm
dm200 wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 1:33 pm
A friend of mine has spent a lot on one of his dogs. The dog has cataract surgery. The dog is also diabetic - so needs daily insulin shots. :dollar :dollar :dollar
I’m one who believes that dogs are not disposable, but given the current price of insulin, I’m not sure I could do that.
I had a Weimaraner, 8 years old, that was diagnosed with diabetes. I don't remember how much it was going to cost to treat, but it was high (in my mind).

I told the vet I wanted to put the dog down. She was shocked, and disappointed.

I fed the dog steaks for the next 3 days, then had her put to sleep. RIP Wupper.
Funding secured

JackoC
Posts: 1009
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2018 11:14 am

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by JackoC » Mon Jun 17, 2019 2:39 pm

ponyboy wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 1:07 pm
If you cant afford a dog, dont get one. If you're concerned with how much vet bills will cost, dont get a dog. Its pretty simple.
I agree, just adding 'can't afford based on how you will approach the dog's vet care'. If you'e really willing to 'replace' it as soon as there's any significant vet cost, then there's little else about a dog, especially for people with that attitude, that would cost a lot. If you're going to get vet care, and at least have a go at tests etc to find out if an old dog can be cured, it can be expensive.

As always with this topic I think the great majority of people do not agree with spending large amounts on modest life extension for dogs with incurable conditions. So that can be somewhat of a red herring (chemo, operations which aren't really going to cure the cancer etc), brought up as how people (unwisely unethically etc it's suggested) spend too much on pets. Some people do, but I think fairly few and I guess very few here. But again, just finding out what's wrong and then proceeding to euthanasia, if it's going to be a lot of suffering otherwise, also costs. We've had two dogs and faced 'well we can do this/that but it will be rough on him/her and probably only extend life for months', and chose euthanasia in both cases. But we still spend significant money near end of life, ~$4k for the last dog. Which had some cosmic humor to it, the ex-fighting breeder dog who learned she was actually the 'Princess of Pit Bulls', after we lucked out that nobody else wanted her. What a terrific animal. No regrets except she didn't last longer.

But yeah in the big picture of dog vet costs the easiest way to avoid them is not having a dog (takin' it out back of the barn and shootin' it...not a realistic choice for most reading this either I wouldn't think). Then there's a smaller issue of price shopping/negotiating like anything else. But it can also can have a similar aspect to human medical care that you start in on something with a given provider then it's not as easy to shop around.

BuckyBadger
Posts: 1017
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2011 11:28 am

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by BuckyBadger » Mon Jun 17, 2019 2:47 pm

Vet care is very personal. I always try to draw the line at quality of life.

For example:

Our 11 year old lab mix tore his ACL. Fixing it was binary - if you fixed it he would be fine; if you didn't he couldn't walk. We spent $3600 and fixed his leg.

Our 13 year old Husky mix had a hemangiosarcoma. We did spend several hundred dollars to find this out. It caused several minor bleeds that lead to seizure-like symptoms and would eventually cause a large bleed that would kill her. There were a few surgical options that had a probability of helping her but the recovery from such a surgery would be very difficult for her. We spent a week doing her favorite things, then packed her and her favorite blanket in the car, stopped at McDonalds for a few cheeseburgers, and took her to the vet to be euthanized.

Our cat got diabetes that was well managed with daily insulin. The insulin cost a couple hundred dollars a month. We gave him insulin until he passed of other causes when he was about 13.


Those prices don't seem unreasonable.

Dottie57
Posts: 7143
Joined: Thu May 19, 2016 5:43 pm
Location: Earth Northern Hemisphere

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by Dottie57 » Mon Jun 17, 2019 3:19 pm

My dad was a veterinarian who retired in the late 80’s. Some of his big overhead included

1) property cost, maintenance and property taxes, insurance
2) equipment such as X-ray machine and simple equipment for blood testing.
3) insurance for malpractice. ( 1 time against dad).
4) technicians / helpers - full time with benefits
5) other employed vets.

There are a lot of costs, not just the medicines and vaccines. My dad said he had to make 10k a day just to stay in business. That was in the ‘80’s. I hate to think of the cost now.

Dottie57
Posts: 7143
Joined: Thu May 19, 2016 5:43 pm
Location: Earth Northern Hemisphere

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by Dottie57 » Mon Jun 17, 2019 3:21 pm

My dad was a veterinarian who retired in the late 80’s. Some of his big overhead included

1) property cost, maintenance and property taxes, insurance
2) equipment such as X-ray machine and simple equipment for blood testing.
3) insurance for malpractice. ( 1 time against dad).
4) technicians / helpers - full time with benefits
5) other employed vets.

There are a lot of costs, not just the medicines and vaccines. My dad said he had to make 10k a day just to stay in business. That was in the ‘80’s. I hate to think of the cost now.

Last thing, if you love your pet, take them to a good vet who has full time help including healthcare 401k.

Pricklypear
Posts: 10
Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2018 7:54 pm

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by Pricklypear » Mon Jun 17, 2019 3:34 pm

We take our dogs to a mobile vet vaccination clinic for their annual shots. They usually have one in major cities. The idea is to provide low-cost vaccines to all dogs/cats. They are quick and cost us less than $100 for their annual vaccines. A vet is on site to provide the care, and they can also provide prescriptions for heart worm prevention. Here's where we go in Northern California: https://www.dogandcatshots.com/low-cost ... -vaccines/

User avatar
Toons
Posts: 13410
Joined: Fri Nov 21, 2008 10:20 am
Location: Hills of Tennessee

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by Toons » Mon Jun 17, 2019 3:48 pm

dm200 wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:19 am
Be willing to "replace" the dog sooner - and do not spend much at all on vet bills.

I grew up on a farm - and most folks had dogs - BUT spent very little on vet bills.

Usually cheaper to replace the dog than spend a lot on these vet bills.


+1
:happy
"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity" –Bruce Lee

Ependytis
Posts: 30
Joined: Mon Oct 17, 2016 11:10 am

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by Ependytis » Mon Jun 17, 2019 4:35 pm

In addition to vaccine clinics, I would also recommend purchasing your medications from an on line source or Costco. They are typically half the price of your veterinarian. You can also treat your dog with human medications- look it up on the Internet. I found instead of taking my dog to the vet I could give her Benadryl for an allergic reaction and not pay $300 for an appointment. I could also clean out an infected ear using a solution of Gentian violet- again look it up on the Internet. Of course the my vet never heard of this but it worked fine.

goodlifer
Posts: 517
Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2015 9:50 pm

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by goodlifer » Mon Jun 17, 2019 5:30 pm

Ask if your vet's office price matches online competitors. They tell me what I need and I google the cheapest cost, then just show them my cell phone and they match it. I also ask about coupons and rebates. They always had a coupon for my dog's prescription food that I could use, and I was still able to use the mail-in-rebate for her flea and tick meds even after they price matched.

I would also add to make sure that you get any vaccinations that your city, county, and state require. Your town could have more stringent rules than your state, and the fines could be significant. I live in county A, but within blocks of county B and C. County A has decided that any animal that cannot be proven to have a rabies vaccine will be immediately euthanized and then we have to pay a lab to examine the brain. County B will charge you to quarantine the animal at your cost, and then fine you up to $10,000. County C will fine you $175 just for not having the rabies tag on your dog's collar, and then the fines go up from there. No sense in being penny wise and pound foolish.

User avatar
G12
Posts: 1526
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2007 2:35 pm

Re: How to avoid high vet bills?

Post by G12 » Mon Jun 17, 2019 6:06 pm

Swansea wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 2:14 pm
Yukon wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 1:51 pm
RobLyons wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:36 am
Yukon wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 9:30 am
Quit taking the dog to the vet.

I wish. He has to stay up to date with rabies in order to keep his dog license. And this visit was follow up from his Lyme disease.
Spacing out our trips after this
Isn't rabies every 3 years? And a follow up for lyme? Was the dog sick?
First rabies shot is good for one year, then every 3 years thereafter
In my experience one has to request the 3-year rabies, otherwise it will be assumed you want the annual into perpetuity....the poster earlier in the thread who stated one doesn't need heart worm tests if your pet is on heart worm or multi-coverage with heart worm prevention included is being short sighted, HW prevention can fail and especially if one lives in hot humid areas definitely get annual HW testing. We have been going to our vet for > 20 years. I have reason to believe he is one of the top 5 vets in ATL and is a straight shooter, ie when one of our Dobes got bone cancer he told me it is the most aggressive cancer, something will recur in likely less than one year and it will not be a favorable outcome, if it were my dog I would do (X). Wife took her to a specialist and got "griefed" into something we will never do again and we love our dogs. My estimate is probably $1.1k to $1.2k annually including senior panel blood work 2x per year for 1 dog, and we have to get K9 influenza, kennel cough and other vaccines for the place we train and board our 2 dogs. Pets are expensive. I have a friend who rescued a Dobe 2.5 years ago that just paid $8k for an extensive spinal surgery due to Wobblers disease and needed significant blood platelet infusion during surgery as he has Von Williebrand disorder. Some breeds have much higher expected medical costs than others, that is always a good thing to evaluate before deciding on dogs you might like.

ETA - for clarity it is $1.1 - 1.2k annually total for 2 dogs, one is 11 yrs old.

Post Reply