Is there a veterinary teaching school near you? It is worthwhile to phone and find out if they run a reduced fee service (i.e. for vaccines) for people who are willing to have students examine their dogs. In these cases, you will still get excellent care as the students are highly supervised by very qualified vets. You may find that your visit takes a long time though. However, most things at a veterinary hospital do tend to be more expensive than at a private practice.
Seek a second opinion
Has your vet recommended some expensive tests or surgery? It is never a bad idea to get a second opinion from another vet in town to see if there are other options.
If your vet has taken xrays, most of the time you can sign these out. (Sometimes there is a fee that is refundable when the xrays are returned). You can also ask the vet to fax the records to the vet which you are seeing for a second opinion.
Should you be worried about hurting your vet’s feelings if you seek a second opinion? It really should not bother a vet unless they know that they are pushing you too hard. I have seen many animals for second opinions (and I have had several of my cases seen by other vets as well!). In most cases I will review the file and test results and let them know that I think their vet is advising the same things I would advise. Usually when this happens, the client will return to their vet for the procedure.
Occasionally, I have offered another option or I can do the procedure for a lower price and the client stays with me. But most of the time they go back to their regular vet.
Another option you have is to seek the opinion of an online vet. You can contact me at http://www.askavetquestion.com. I often get people asking me how much I would charge for a particular procedure. An online vet can usually give an unbiased opinion based on the information given. The price is usually extremely low as well!
How to find the best vet in town
People love to talk about whether they love or hate their vet. They also love to talk about whether they feel their vet is really expensive or really pushy or well qualified.
So, ask around!
Take your dog to the park and start up conversations with people. Here are some questions I would recommend asking:
- Do you enjoy your vet visits?
- How well does your vet interact with your pet?
- Do you like the front desk staff at the clinic you go to?
- Does your vet seem to know what he or she is doing?
- How do you find the prices?
Don’t dismiss a vet just because someone says he or she is expensive. Even the least expensive vet in town gets complaints about cost from time to time.
However, after talking to several people you should be able to get a good idea of who comes the most highly recommended.
What about low cost vaccine/rabies clinics?
In some places you can get a rabies vaccine for a very reduced price on certain days of the year. Often these clinics are funded by the government. The idea is to encourage people who otherwise couldn’t afford to vaccinate their dogs to get them vaccinated.
However, I do not recommend these clinics!
The most important part of your vaccination visit is not the vaccine, but the consult with the vet, including the physical exam.
I have worked at several rabies clinics and what I saw there was so sad. I would see animals who had obvious skin problems, cancerous tumors, dental disease and joint problems and I couldn’t do a single thing about it! (In these clinics there is basically an assembly line where you go in one door, see the vet for a shot and go out the back door. There is no time for a consult). The owners of these dogs were satisfied to have them vaccinated, but the poor dogs were living with serious medical conditions. The longer these conditions go untreated, the more expensive they will be!
So, while it will cost more money to do an actual visit as compared to a reduced fee clinic, in the long run it is definitely worth it!
Is your pet going under an anesthetic?
Is your pet having a lump removed? A wound explored? Another surgical procedure? This is an excellent time to have his or her teeth cleaned.
In some cases, a dental cleaning may not be safe to do along with another procedure. Your vet will let you know if this is the case.
Cleaning your dog’s teeth now will prevent you having to do another anesthetic later on in life. It will be a lot less expensive to have this done now than to do a second procedure later on in life.
For animals who receive regular subcutaneous fluids
Does your cat have chronic renal insufficiency?
Many of these cats will need to receive fluids under the skin on a regular basis. This can be expensive and can also be stressful to bring the cat to the clinic several times a month.
I have many clients who do their own subcutaneous fluids at home. While it looks difficult, most cats tend to tolerate it well and the vast majority of owners can do this well either on their own or with another person to help.
What we do is sell the client an IV bag filled with the correct electrolyte solution, the proper IV line and a few needles. The cost of this is really small.
Article by Dr. Marie