Veterinarian Costs Vary–It Pays to Call Around for Prices

Is the escalating cost of veterinarian care keeping you from taking in your pets for treatment? It sure is in our house. But calling around for prices can yield some happy and unexpected results. 

Zappa the cat
It’s amazing Zappa stayed still long enough for one fuzzy photo. But he needs to get to a vet, and I need to find one that doesn’t charge an arm and a paw for an exam.

He’s cute and all, but he has bad breath. Over the years, we’ve spent quite a bit of money on vet bills for our various pets. Now, we are down to one cat, who is about thirteen-years-old. His name is Zappa (named by my husband, who is a great fan of who else, Frank Zappa), and he is probably one of the most difficult cats I’ve ever owned (he’s fast, strong, and hates to be caught). But I need to get him to the vet to see what’s causing that bad breath, but what’s been keeping me from picking up the phone and calling for an appointment? Cost! It seems that every time I step into the vet’s office, it costs well over $100, sometimes over $200 a pop, and we don’t get all that much accomplished so it seems. Quick exam and required shots, quick manicure (although I finally bought my own cat clippers and when I can grab Zappa, I’m good at getting it done without a scratch–I wasn’t willing to pay the $30 per manicure every couple of months at my vet’s office). We chose our vet because it’s close to our house, but it’s also one of the more expensive places around, I found out today. I like them, but I tend to feel guilty every time I go there (like I’m a terrible cat mom for not being able to clip his claws, that sort of thing.) Then, there was the time we spent nearly $300 on Zappa to have a battery of blood tests (to see if he had a thyroid or other issue) that came back normal.

But, it may be time to make a change. This syndicated article from Dr. Fox is the one that inspired me to call around and ask the simplest question I should have asked years ago: “How much does an office visit cost?” WOW! I called three places and my own vet seems to be the most expensive. A new practice in town, which handles only cats (ah, that sounds so inviting to a cat person….) is the least expensive, so I’m going to give them a try even though they are further away.

The lesson is this: call around and ask for prices when it comes to vet care. In this town, there seems to be a $20 variance in costs for a simple visit. Not very significant, but it’s something. There have been articles written (like this one) about why pet owners procrastinate when it comes to taking in a pet to be treated–expense. Of course we wouldn’t do that with our kids or other family members, but we tend to hope “it” goes away when it comes to pets.

Shelby the cat
Shelby, our other tabby, had to be put down last year. It cost over $200 to have her sedated, euthanised and cremated.

So, I’m hoping for the best (please just be some tartar build-up…crossing my fingers…) for the least amount of money, but we’ll see what happens. If it’s something worse, I’ll cross that bridge if I have to and I know price isn’t always the best way to judge a practice, either. Genuine compassion towards pet and pet owner makes the difference, and I do have that with my long-term vet.But what I’m really hoping for is better-smelling breath for this crazy cat of ours.

~Marilyn, TFF