Proactive Dental Care (chs. 7-10)

Proactive Dental CareThis is going to sound contradictory, but the best way to avoid an expensive dental cleaning is to have your petʼs teeth cleaned regularly. In our practice we give a 30% discount on dental cleanings if you have them done every 18 months.

Keeping up on dental cleanings is not only good for your dog or cat, but also good for your pocket book! A dental cleaning under an anesthetic on an animal that has mild tartar but otherwise healthy teeth may cost $300-$400. However, if your dogʼs teeth have not been cleaned regularly then the dental cleaning will take a lot longer and he or she may need some costly extractions. Such a cleaning can cost between $1000-$2000.

Ask If Your vet Would Give You a Referral Fee

In our practice we will give our clients a $25 credit if they refer a new customer to us. Ask if your veterinarian has a similar program.

If they donʼt, then propose one!

Ask your vet if they would be willing to give you a certain amount of money for each new client you can get them.

Then, there are a few ways that you can drum up new clients:

  • Whenever you are walking your dog, talk to other dog owners and tell them how great your vet is.
  • Find online discussion groups in your area and say good things about your vet. You can do this by searching in Google for “discussion forum pets [your city]” or “forum dogs [your city]”
  • Tell all of your friends on Facebook about your vet. And of course, whenever you tell someone about your great vet be sure to tell them that your vet will give you a referral fee for sending them your way. This way they will mention that you sent them.

Ask About Online Prescriptions

This is a tricky area. Again, some vets will be willing to write a prescription for you to fill online, but many will not.

In many cases you can buy your petʼs medicine online for cheaper. However, the online prescription industry is sometimes not known for its integrity.

There have been cases where online pharmacies have sold expired medications or even knockoff medications such as imitation Frontline.

Some online pharmacies will take a vetʼs written prescription and use that vetʼs signature to allow other people to fill their prescriptions when their vets have refused to deal with the pharmacy.

Earlier we talked about why a vet may be reluctant to write a prescription for a human pharmacy to fill.

Similarly, here are some reasons for a vet not to want to write a prescription for an online pharmacy:

  • It takes more time for the vet to do this than to fill the prescription in their office.
  • Often pharmacies will fill the script with a generic brand. In many cases this is acceptable, but sometimes the generic brand is not as effective as the name brand.
  • Part of what you are paying for when you buy medicine at the vetʼs office is for the ability to consult with the vet on that medication. When I sell you a bottle of medication, I spend a lot of time explaining the side effects, how to use it and more. When you buy the medicine online, if you have questions about the use of that medication, your vet is obliged to discuss them with you even though he or she has not been paid for that prescription.

And again, remember that a vetʼs office is a business that has to make money to pay for the equipment in the clinic and the staff that run it. If everyone bought their medication elsewhere then eventually other prices (such as the office visit fee) will go up.

With all of that being said, it never hurts to ask if your vet is willing to write a prescription for an online pharmacy.

If your animal is on a chronic prescription such as arthritis medication, thyroid medication, or medication for cushingʼs or addisonʼs disease then it would be great to ask your vet if they could fill the initial prescription and then consider allowing you to purchase the remaining medicine online.

Be sure to check out the shipping charges.

Also, read some online reviews of a pet pharmacy before you use one. BUT, beware of many of the online review pages. Often they are pages run by “affiliate marketers”. These marketers receive a referral fee whenever one of their reviews results in a sale for the online pharmacy. Therefore, the reviews are often biased with the best reviews going to the companies who give the highest referral fees.

The best way to find a non-biased review of online pharmacies is to search discussion forums. Search for something like “discussion forum online veterinary pharmacy” or “forum online pet pharmacy”.

Be Up Front About Being “On A Budget”

The best way to avoid extra expenses at your vetʼs office is to be honest and up front with your veterinarian. I greatly respect an owner who says something like, “Doc, I just want to let you know that I am willing to do whatever is necessary to make my pet better, but it has been a tough financial year for me. If we can keep the costs as low as possible and only stick to tests that are absolutely necessary I would greatly appreciate that.”

As vets we owe it to you to offer you the best standard of treatment. If your dog is vomiting and I suspect that she is very sick I will recommend doing some xrays, bloodwork and a urinalysis. These are tests that give me lots of information.

However, if my client is on a tight budget I will often suggest that we start with some xrays and if they donʼt give us an answer we move on to the next test.

Or, if I know my client is really tight on cash I may offer to try some medications and special food first and if there is no improvement we can do the tests the next day.

If you are going to take this approach with your veterinarian, I would advise you to stay away from complaining about how expensive vet care is. No vet enjoys hearing that you feel that vets are trying to rip you off. The vast majority of vets are good, honest people who truly have your animalʼs best interest in mind and not their pocketbook.

Article by Dr. Marie

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