Avoid Costly Dentistries (chs. 40-42)

PetsThe vast majority of animals in my practice are in need of a dental cleaning under an anesthetic. This can definitely be pricey! Depending on whether the animal requires preanesthetic bloodwork, whether extractions are necessary and other variables the cost can be between $300 and $1500 and in some cases more.

There are a number of things that can be done to avoid a dental cleaning. By far, the best is regular tooth brushing. If you can brush your pet’s teeth 2-3 times per week this will really be good for his or her dental health! Most pets do well with a finger brush and a poultry flavored toothpaste. Be sure you use a vet recommended toothpaste as human toothpastes are not meant to be swallowed. The pet toothpastes contain enzymes that help to clean the teeth. This means that if you can just get the toothpaste on the teeth then you will be accomplishing something.

Another thing you can do is talk to your vet about prescription dental foods. I sell a lot of Hill’s t/d as well as Medical/Royal Canin/VMD Dental Diet.

These foods have products in the kibbles that help to break down tartar. Also they are designed so that when the kibble is chewed it will help with tartar reduction as well. While the companies who make these foods recommend that they are fed as the main food I often find that they work just as well if given along with regular food or as a treat several times in the day. Most pets love the taste of these foods!

Most expensive dog breeds

Thinking of getting a new dog? If so, there are certain breeds of dogs who are famous for developing expensive veterinary conditions. Some of the most expensive breeds are:

  • Daschunds (If back surgery is needed, it can cost $4000 or more)
  • Bulldogs (high incidence of hip dysplasia, other joint problems, skin issues and more)
  • Rottweilers (high incidence of joint problems and bone cancers)
  • Labradors (high incidence of joint problems, accidents, foreign object ingestion)
  • Golden Retrievers (high incidence of joint problems)
  • Chihuahuas (many need dental extractions several times in their life)
  • Cocker Spaniels (can have serious problems with allergies, ear infections and other skin problems)
  • German Shepherds (high incidence of joint problems)

If you are investigating a breed and trying to determine if they are likely to have higher than average vet bills, here is a good way to find out: Contact a few of the well known pet insurance companies and get an online quote for pet insurance for that breed. Then, compare this to an average breed such as a Jack Russell Terrier.

Is your vet hospital part of a large chain?

Do you know if your vet hospital is privately owned or part of a large corporation? The most famous corporation of vet hospitals are the Banfield hospitals that are associated with PetSmart. For most things in life, a large chain of businesses tends to be less expensive. For example, buying my cleaning supplies at Wal-Mart is a lot less expensive than buying them at a store that specializes in cleaning supplies. This is because a large corporation can buy supplies in bulk and then relay the savings to their customers.

However, I have not found that the same thing is true in veterinary hospitals. While I cannot speak for every veterinary chain, I can say that I have heard stories of chain stores being much more expensive. A colleague of mine worked at a veterinary practice that was part of a group of clinics owned by a large corporation. She would have quarterly reviews where her superiors would rate her productivity. She would be told she had to sell more bloodwork, more vaccines or more of a certain type of product. Sometimes a chain of practices will instruct their veterinarians that they must vaccinate all pets for a number of viruses that may or may not be necessary. This is controversial information! Not all vets work this way. The vast majority of vets will make decisions on vaccines, bloodwork and products based on what they feel your animal needs. However, it is worthwhile to investigate whether a vet has production quotas they need to meet. It can be hard to find this information out.

Here are some things you can do to get information before choosing a vet:

  • Ask the receptionist if the vet clinic is owned by one of the vets who works there or by a large chain. If it is owned by a chain or someone who does not work at the practice there is a good chance there is a corporation that is pushing vets to sell more.
  • Ask the receptionist how long each of their vets have been at this practice. In my experience vets do not tend to stay at a quota-driven practice for long. We became vets because we love animals and their owners and not because we wanted to become rich! Therefore, practices that push their vets to make more money often have a high turnover of vets.
  • Do a google search for the practice. Try searching for the practice name in quotes plus the word group, like this: “ABC Veterinary hospital” group. This way, if the practice is part of a group that is corporately owned you should be able to dig this information up.
  • Phone the clinic and ask who the owner of the practice is.

Article by Dr. Marie

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