For many pet owners, it is easy to become frustrated with the cost of veterinary care. After all, you just brought your pet in for a simple ear infection… Or maybe you’re facing emergency pet care that you simply cannot afford. Whatever the case may be, it’s not uncommon to wonder, “Why on Earth do things cost so much?” and we thought it might be time to address that very question.
The cost of veterinary care is a lot less than similar procedures on the human side of medicine, yet it is subject to similar overhead. We often do not see how much our human medical treatments and procedures actually cost as they go through insurance, but the similarities are there, we assure you.
So, before getting too frustrated with your veterinarian, remember that your veterinarian’s office must pay for the following:
Facility Costs and Insurance
Just like any building, a veterinary office must pay for the mortgage on the space, as well as electricity, water, even property taxes. A veterinary hospital also has added costs such as oxygen supply, hazardous waste disposal, radiation inspection, and anesthetic machine maintenance.
Not only must a veterinary facility carry liability insurance, but its doctors must also pay for malpractice insurance, which is a necessary overhead that is built into the cost of care as well.
Veterinarians do not get extensive price breaks on medications. Not only do they need to cover the costs of the prescriptions you head home with, but they also need to pay for the drugs used to put your pet under anesthesia, the medications used to clean up that wound, or the syringe used to vaccinate your pet.
Contrary to popular belief, these items are not kickbacks for prescribing a certain brand of drug, and must be paid for as well.
Education and Staff
Veterinary school is not cheap. Most veterinarians graduate with student debt in line with a doctor of human medicine. However, unlike human physicians, the average salary for a veterinarian is approximately half that as a doctor of human medicine. Did you know that your veterinarian also has to maintain a certain number continuing education hours to maintain his or her license (also not free)?
Not only does your veterinarian need to have a degree, but many other staff members in a veterinary hospital may have degrees such as veterinary technician. All members of the veterinary staff earn a salary to pay the bills, just like you do. As much as we may love animals, there are few people in the world who can afford to work for free.
No one goes into veterinary medicine for the money. There is simply very little return for the years of training and cost of education required. Veterinarians and their staff are in the field because they want to help animals. When they make recommendations or present an estimate to you for your pet’s care, it is because they are advocating for the pet’s health and happiness.
For the standard of veterinary medicine to keep rising, we must account for the increased costs of technology and education. And, unfortunately, everyone must earn a living somehow. Please plan for the cost of veterinary care when you commit to taking a pet into your family. Investigate avenues such as CareCredit, pet insurance, or our wellness plans. Being financially responsible for your pets allows us to continue to offer the best care possible.