Wednesday, November 20, 2019

How much are you willing to pay for your pet’s care?


Trying to figure out how much you really should pay for life-saving procedures or diagnostics for our pets is very stressful.  For every family and every person, the amount is different. What would you pay?

When I was in Veterinary school I had no extra money coming in so when my own dog was diagnosed with a heart-based mass and coughing a lot you can imagine the stress that was placed over me.

After paying for the diagnostics to figure out why he was coughing the cardiologist recommended surgery to potentially save his life in the case of an emergency. I was told that if the surgery was not performed they gave him up to 1 year of life. While, if I let them do the surgery he can have a few more years.

What do you do?

Spend the last year of veterinary school doing everything I can in my spare time to make him have a decent last year or pay for the surgery to potentially get a longer time with him and decrease the chances of a life-threatening emergency from occurring.

I was given a $1,500 estimate for the procedure and I was heartbroken.

I had no extra income since I wasn’t working but I couldn’t think of losing the animal that has been with me for 12 years now.

In my situation, I was extremely thankful my parents got pet insurance for him when he was young. I signed the estimate, scheduled the surgery and they proceeded. I got reimbursed for about 1/2 of the full amount I paid and I got an extra 4 very good years with my pup.

I don’t know what I would have done if I did not have the pet insurance at that time. I don’t think the surgery would have been a financial option. Fast Forward to today the cost of veterinary care has gone up. It has gone up due to the cost to keep a vet hospital open, just like with any other business. Making life altering decisions in the heat of the moment can be extremely stressful and in turn, sometimes you can feel you made the wrong choice.

Many people have brought their pets into me and after I provided an estimate they declined the services opting for the cheapest choice at that time. While I know it is not the best choice for that pet my hands are completely tied to be able to do anything except offer other ways to make payments or other hospitals that may be cheaper. 

People in this world will jump on the bandwagon stating that if I loved animals I would just take care of the pet for free. The reality behind this is its not possible. Take this into consideration, you go to the grocery store to buy food for your family. You can’t pay for the food your grocery store will tell you too bad, leave it here. If you take the same thought that many do for veterinary medicine technically that grocery store should care enough about you and your family eating that they should give you the groceries for free. Unfortunately, that is not how the world works.

Today, would I spend the money to put my animal through life-saving surgery? Possibly, depending on our pup’s quality of life after the procedure and my own financial state. Unfortunately, having to make realistic decisions is tough regarding our pet’s care. 

As a veterinarian, I care deeply for my client’s pets. While people may feel like we might judge them for not being able to provide the care that we recommend, we completely understand that finances limit people and this is completely acceptable.

If you are having trouble affording your pet’s care discussing the financial constraints upfront with your veterinarian is always important. There are many different options for people and your veterinarian can always help you find the best solutions for your pet.

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