“It Costs Too Much to Take My Pet to the Vet”

By: Dr. Kristin Tvrdik, DVM

As a veterinarian who has spent my career working in shelters and low-cost clinics, this statement brings with it a wide range of emotions. My goal is to make sure that all owners, regardless of their financial status, have access to the care they need for their pets, however, I also know the value and worth of veterinary medicine.

Veterinarians spend four years in undergraduate school and four additional years earning their doctorate in veterinary medicine. This comes at an enormous cost in both time and money. Additionally, the skilled staff and equipment required to run a successful veterinary practice in this era of advanced medicine and technology do not come at a low price. Veterinarians and owners must invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in staff salaries, training, equipment purchases, maintenance, and product purchases. In the majority of cases, veterinarians are charging appropriately or even under-charging for their services.

Pet owners spend over 30 billion dollars each year on veterinary care or veterinary products. As medicine continues to advance and life expectancies increase in our pets, these amounts will only continue to increase. Owners demand the best for their pets and veterinarians have to charge appropriately for their services in order to remain in business and continue to offer quality care. 

On the other side of the issue is the belief that everyone should be able to find and receive care for their pets. The benefits of owning a pet are too great and the need for loving homes for our surplus of animals is too high to say that only people with expendable income should have animals. It is up to us as animal shelters and shelter medicine professionals to help direct people to affordable care options for their pets. 

Here are a few tips to help pet owners in need of financial support for their pets’ medical care:

  • Find a low-cost, high-quality option for preventative care or spay/neuter services. Most areas at this time have options for inexpensive vaccinations or sterilization surgeries. Try calling your local shelter to find out about these clinics. Locally, Spay Illinois, PAWS Chicago, or The Anti-Cruelty Society are great options for spay/neuter services as well as preventative care like vaccinations and wellness visits. Hinsdale Humane Society also offers low cost vaccination clinics (check out our events page for upcoming dates). These lower-cost options aren’t “cheap” or cutting corners, they simply tailor their services to specific things to avoid costly overhead expenses and equipment. 
  • Get approved for Scratchpay or Care Credit. These allow you to finance emergency or wellness care for your pet in the event that you cannot afford the amount at the time of the visit. These services allow you to pay off your pet’s bill like a credit card over time while the veterinarian can still accept full payment at the time. 
  • Look into pet insurance as an option for you and your pet to save money on expensive visits. We often forget that our costly visits to the doctor are covered by our insurance policies. The same is an option for our pets.
  • An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure! Take your pet for yearly vet visits (or more often if they have a diagnosed chronic illness or are a senior). Spending the time and money for regular checkups and lab work will save you money in the long-run as catastrophes can be avoided by recognizing issues sooner.
  • Spay and neuter your pet! Avoid costly emergency surgeries like pyometra (uterine infection), cancers, and injuries from your pets getting out and wandering trying to find a mate.
  • Brush your pet’s teeth to delay or prevent the need for dental cleanings.
  • Vaccinate, deworm, and protect your pet against heartworm disease by doing yearly or monthly regular care.
  • Feed good-quality food - look for the AAFCO seal of approval and/or choose a food with meat as a main ingredient.

If you need help, remember there are programs and people willing to help you! You may need to get creative, but you can care for your pet on a limited income.

Comments (1)

Lisa Woodman
Wed, Feb 1, 2023, 6:20 PM
How often do you recommend brushing your dogs teeth?

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