Hints to Bring your Vet Bill Down

Dog Getting Vaccination My dog and I cringed at the same time, he was sniffing the wastebasket (formaldehyde or alcohol cotton  balls inside) and I was eying the total charges for our 30-minute visit! “Why is this Fecal charge so high- aren’t you simply scanning the poop?” The poor teen-aged receptionist looked scared so I reigned in in my inner-lion and took out the credit card. The annual checkup is a necessary evil, I repeated quietly like a mantra. It exposes potential bigger problems, before they have escalated, so I don’t have to take a trip to the emergency vet at 2 am.
“Would you like to get a years supply of the heart-worm meds for only $214? It’s half-off and includes the flea/tic medication” the girl tentatively ventured. “Are you KIDDING ME?” I wanted to shout! My bill is now over $400.
Resigning myself to just getting out of the vet’s office before I say something I’ll regret, I clamp my mouth shut and simply nod yes.
When I get inside my car, I curse and bang the steering wheel like a swindled pirate – robbed of all my gold! What just happened?
Next I phoned several friends to compare vet bills and pricing> Not one of us left the annual visit without paying over $200! How can this cost be lowered? Opt out of some options below:

Consider fewer shots. Many communities require yearly rabies shots, and vets have long recommended other annual vaccinations to protect against certain deadly viruses. About 66 percent of the 188 million visits to the vet by cats and dogs in 2001 involved vaccinations, and this bread-and-butter business made up 14 percent of the average vet’s income. Yet if your pet is an indoor-only cat or senior dog, some of these shots may not  be needed.

Vaccine Boosters: average cost for booster shots ranges between $18-$25. Ask your vet if their is a generic form of the drug.

Heartworm Test: average cost is $45-60. If your pet is an indoor-only, you may opt to skip this.

Fecal Exam: average cost $25-$45. Fecal exams are performed to identify gastrointestinal parasites.

Dental Cleaning:  costs $70-$400, and will vary for dogs and cats. Frequently the vet assist scrapes off the tartar that causes gingivitis.

Geriatric Screening: Older pets (typically 7 years and up) will require geriatric screening. This is a more comprehensive exam that may include complete blood work and chemistry, urinalysis, x-rays, and more. The typical cost for this type of exam is $85-$110.

Allergy Testing:  Skin testing generally costs $195-$250, and blood testing generally costs $200-$300. Performed if your pet is showing symptoms, such as sneezing, itching, oozing eyes. 

Remember the wise words of Consumer Reports: “You don’t have to buy prescription drugs from vets. More than 600 drugs used to treat pets are actually human drugs, and you can find some of the best deals at ordinary drugstores.  if there’s a lower-priced human drug equivalent you can pick up at a pharmacy.