Author Topic: Vet Expenses  (Read 2639 times)

jac941

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Vet Expenses
« on: September 22, 2022, 03:45:33 PM »
Hi all. Iím wondering if anyone out there has some good advice / recommendations regarding how to reduce vet expenses. Our pet expenses over the past 3 years have been ASTRONOMICAL. So high that Iíve purposely not added it up because I donít want to see the all in number.

Weíve had 2 senior dogs through this time period (one died in 2020 & the other is almost 14). Our old guy has had some significant issues, but overall is in very good shape for his age - eats well, loves to go on short walks, rotates through his many dog beds, etc. The vet expenses are almost never one huge bill (though we did have one event that cost just under $3,000). Instead theyíre a series of high bills ó $1,000 here, $1,500 there, $400 on medications for this or that, etc.

To get this more under control Iíve tried:
  • Changing to a less expensive vet.
  • Price shopping the medications to online pharmacies.
  • Questioning the value of each recommended test to make sure that we can actually improve the quality of the life of the dog with what we learn vs just get more detail on a medical issue. Switching to the less expensive vet has actually helped a lot with getting more reasonable recommendations for treatment in addition to their prices just being lower for the same things.
  • For more expensive recommended labs / procedures, I get second opinions and/or price shop from further afield vets.
So far we have not turned down or refused treatment that will improve quality of life. We do refuse treatment that would only extend life or where the risks outweigh the benefits. For example, the risk of death for going under anesthesia is high for our older dog due to a heart problem, so we have declined to do any more procedures that would require it.

On the one hand, we can afford it. It seems unfair to us to withhold anything that would improve our dogís quality of life after heís given us so many wonderful years and memories. On the other hand, holy cow itís expensive. There must be a better way. I know pet insurance is an option, but we can afford to self-insure. Plus, just looking at premiums, I think even with the past few years of outrageous expenses, weíve still come out way ahead of paying for an insurance premium over our dogsí lifetimes.

Iím crowdsourcing from the community. Is there something else that you do to keep the costs down that Iím missing?

SunnyDays

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2022, 06:52:43 PM »
I think you've covered it all.  Pets are expensive, no way around it.  I just had my cat's teeth cleaned for $650.00.  And my other cat and dog need it soon too.  Plus dog needs an ultrasound.  It does all add up and very quickly.  Insurance really doesn't pay, so I don't bother.  As long as you're approaching it as What's Best for the Animal, as you seem to be doing, and questioning things, you're probably doing the best you can do.

One small thing to consider is filling prescriptions at human pharmacies, which may or may not give you a better price than online.  You may also be able to get higher doses and split the pills.  That's generally cheaper.

sailinlight

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2022, 07:03:37 PM »
I'm sure I'll be in the minority here but I can't imagine ever spending thousands of dollars on vet bills. Animals are animals, teeth cleaning?? That sounds like torture. 15 years ago a dog would feel extremely lucky to get let inside the house during a deep freeze.

Adventine

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2022, 07:17:17 PM »

Hi all. Iím wondering if anyone out there has some good advice / recommendations regarding how to reduce vet expenses. Our pet expenses over the past 3 years have been ASTRONOMICAL. So high that Iíve purposely not added it up because I donít want to see the all in number.



One of the easiest ways to keep costs down... is to add them up. You are avoiding adding up your pet expenses, which means you don't have an accurate idea of how bad your problem really is.

Just like any other aspect of your financial life, you'll only be able to make significant, sustainable changes once you know exactly what's coming in and going out.

Knowing exactly how much the vet bills have cost you will inform your decisions going forward. That doesn't make you an irresponsible or unloving pet owner. But knowing exactly how much you are spending on your pets will make you a more responsible steward of your family finances.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2022, 07:22:42 PM by Adventine »

Omy

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2022, 07:33:24 PM »
My last pup was so expensive over the course of his 15 year life that I decided not to have pets in the future. And it wasn't just the expense - it's so upsetting to watch them go downhill as they age.

I'm now old enough that I'm concerned that a puppy might possibly outlive me....or cause me to fall and break a hip. And I enjoy traveling without having to worry about a pet.

My advice would be to not get another pet after this one passes away. That's the cheapest option (assuming you can live happily without a fur baby in your life).
« Last Edit: September 22, 2022, 07:34:58 PM by Omy »

JupiterGreen

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2022, 08:15:14 PM »
This is definitely something we've experienced with older dogs. It may come down to your philosophy regarding pet ownership. We paid a ridiculous sum of money on our dogs over the years. Sometimes our decisions were emotional. We saved money by doing preventive things like brush their teeth (highly recommend), but all the big expenses came at the end. We did tally the money we spent and it was outrageous. But we know we are not always emotionally equipped to view pet ownership logically. Our pets are emotional support for us, so I think of them as part of our healthcare (pets do have a line in our budget). Once our last dog passed we made the decision to get cats instead because they are less expensive. Pets are important to us, but that is a highly personal things. Regardless of what people tell you, ultimately this is your choice. I think you'll do right by your pets no matter what you do. Your dog is 14, unless they are a Chihuahua I'm sure you realize s/he is in their twilight years.  If you are able to be logical, it might be helpful to come up with a number of what you want to spend the next time there is a vet visit. Sometimes we hang on to them for us, not them.   

Fresh Bread

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2022, 09:04:17 PM »
I think you're doing everything you can with healthcare, picking things that improve quality of life and not doing things like (incredibly expensive!) scans that won't change the treatment plan.

I think there's a huge scale of pet feeding costs. I don't know how bad the supermarket food is, but my last dog lived til 17 years on it. The new dog is on the next level up that's sold in pet stores only but really how much better can it be and it's double the price. Then you've got the pre-made raw food diets and the ultra premium dry food that's double the price again. It's hard to know if you're doing preventative care by feeding premium food. Giving chewy things hopefully helps reduce dental costs.

Now you're in the twilight age, doggo could potentially cost a lot with a non-pragmatic vet, so it's worth keeping the quality of life top of mind. My old dog probably had a tumour somewhere but there was no point finding out because we wouldn't be treating it. Our great vet never even suggested it. We just let him go when we felt it was right. There's handy resources online for working out if it's time to let them go. One that I can't find right now said to think of the top 5 favourite things our dog liked to do, and if he couldn't do most of them anymore, it was time. It was really helpful in making the decision. Also a lack of appetite is a really clear sign that we missed because he still ate treats/the good stuff. No-one says they did it too soon, only that they wished they'd done it sooner!

Cranky

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2022, 07:55:36 AM »
So, we have a VERY old cat - she's at least 20 yo and could be older, but we've had her 18 years and she was not a kitten when we got her.

She has finally had a cascade of health problems in the last year. We've taken her to the university vet clinic and we've had a serious discussion about quality of life versus quantity so that we're all on the same page. Prescription food? Yes. Surgery? No.

And honestly, for an ancient cat with kidney failure, one tooth, some dementia, and a generally poor attitude, she is chugging along pretty well.

Sailor Sam

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2022, 09:13:16 AM »
I canít add much that hasnít already been discussed, but I also share my life with a yorkie who cost $18,000 last year, and is chugging towards $10,000 this year. I kind feel like I havfta type something up!

So, original thoughts! The first is that preventative care probably helps keep old dog costs down. Brushing their teeth seems to be the new dog care thing, and it makes sense to me. Neither my dog, nor my wallet want a mouthful of rotting teeth in middle age. OP, Iím sure youíre covering this, but Iím just musing for the wider thread.

The second thing that hasnít been mentioned is to read a few books about how dog brains work, and then use the knowledge while socializing your pup, and while interacting with your dog. A huge part of my rescue dogís expensive life is dealing with his separation anxiety and reactivity towards other dogs. Prevent it if you can, and treat it if your dog comes preloaded with anxiety.

chasesfish

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2022, 10:05:43 AM »
Married to a veterinarian who is also FI...

First, vets don't make a lot of money.   Eight years of education, usually $200,000+ in student loan debt, and most start capping out around $110,000 or so after five years of experience.   The training involves the skill set of diagnosis, surgery, dentistry, and pharmacy but still earn 1/2 what human doctors do.

Pricing has increased, especially over the past five years.  The 1980s trained veterinarians with low technology clinics and dated practices are aging out and retiring.   They weren't using the level of diagnostic equipment that modern veterinarians have and it's been an adjustment.

What to do about costs?

Avoid the corporate and private equity backed chains.  Sometimes it's difficult to know, they no longer advertise that they are VCA or Banfield, a bunch of private equity firms are buying clinics and not changing a thing and disguising ownership.   These firms are pushing the market on pricing because they are earning both an ROI and paying veterinarians market salary.   A locally owned practice is likely not to be pushing prices as much.

Understand the highest costs in pet ownership are beginning of life and end of life care.   Decide early on what you will / won't do for your pet.   We happily paid almost $10,000 in cancer treatment to extend our last dog's life by a year.   That's not for everyone.  Always discuss quality of life and costs as part of treatment. 

We are not believers in pet insurance, it's only really useful in the first couple years of age for accidents.

SunnyDays

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2022, 10:53:08 AM »
In addition, vets are in very short supply.  The phone message at one local clinic says that they are experiencing a "severe workplace staffing shortage," so to be patient with appointment timelines.  Even if you're willing to pay whatever the prices are, getting timely care is becoming an issue and likely to be more so in future.

Sibley

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2022, 03:15:15 PM »
Pets require care. Care is expensive sometimes. Even "healthy" older animals are going to need more care. You can try to keep costs down, but there is only so much you can do.

TheAnonOne

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2022, 08:57:50 AM »
I wonder if pet insurance would start to make sense after the animal reaches say... 14?

Kathryn K.

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2022, 09:18:21 AM »
One thing I haven't seen mentioned: it is great that there are folks willing to take rescue dogs with significant behavioral and health issues and spend the money on them but that is not me. For a better shot (but no guarantee since this is a living being) at controlling behavior-related and health expenses, I would recommend buying (or getting an older dog that needs placement) from a reputable breeder.  This will take time and money but well worth it, in my opinion.

Edited to add: the above is obviously more about large expenses for younger dogs than end of life care.  For the latter, it is completely legitimate to have a total $ money you are willing to spend on care for a 14 year old dog.  My sister's much younger dog recently had a serious health issue that took some time to diagnose and they came very close to hitting the total figure my sister was willing to spend. If they were going to exceed that, the dog would have been put down.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2022, 09:28:23 AM by Kathryn K. »

RainyDay

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #14 on: September 26, 2022, 10:31:35 AM »
Married to a veterinarian who is also FI...

We are not believers in pet insurance, it's only really useful in the first couple years of age for accidents.

Interesting and useful info!  I've always wondered whether pet insurance would be worth it.  My theory is that the insurance companies are in the business to make money, not to save me money, so in the end the odds are in their favor.

I can't think of any other ways to save money on vet costs, unfortunately!  The most *practical* way would be to make care decisions based on logic instead of emotion, but that never happens, at least for me.  In the moment, when my beloved pet is suffering or needs care (and I have the financial ability to pay for it), his care and comfort will always rule the day.  End-of-life care cost us $2400 for the final 5 days last month.  Ouch, but I don't regret it.  We have a separate line in our budget for vet costs. 

Malcat

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #15 on: September 26, 2022, 10:35:10 AM »
I generally only take my animals to rural vets because their overhead is much lower so their recommendations aren't motivated as much by a need to cover their high monthly bills.

As a fee-for-service medical professional myself, I'm all too familiar with the phenomenon of tunnel vision towards lucrative treatments when the overhead is high.

Not me personally, I was a contractor, I didn't have overhead so I made money even if the owner lost money. I got in many conflicts with clinic owners because they insisted more expensive treatment was needed, while I was more focused on stabilization and maybe considering more complex treatments down the line once I know the patient is stable/responsible/capable enough to maintain them.

I realized that these professionals legitimately believed they were making the best recommendations for their patients, but it was clear that the subconscious force driving their beliefs was financial stress. The motivation for expansive testing was often driven by the need to financially justify paying 6 figures for the testing machine.

So I drive about 45 minutes away to an old, established rural vet clinic where the owner paid off their building in the 80s, but has young staff with up-to-date education, so I'm not depending on the outdated methods of someone who doesn't even know when an ultrasound would be optimal.

Mine only recommends complex tests and interventions when absolutely necessary because they require referral to a city vet to get done, or to bring in a specialist to do it.
Basically, they make no money off of advanced testing, but also don't lose anything, so they only recommend it when it is truly worth the expense to the client for the tangible benefit of the animal's treatment.

Do I miss out on the gold standard of treatment for my animals with this approach? Quite possibly. Sometimes.

However, being a medical professional myself and a complex medical patient, I'm also well educated in the reality that more testing and technology is not necessarily better. It's a surprisingly tough call when more testing/imaging is actually beneficial, and it's constantly up for debate in medicine.

This is why I specifically prefer to go to young, modern educated vets who work in clinics that *don't* have the most advanced technology, because they know when to recommend it, but have zero motivation outside of the animal's legitimate benefit. 

I'm also rather on the conservative side of what I'm willing to put an animal through and have seen many vets cash in on a dying, suffering animals who should just arguably be peacefully put down, not tested to death...literally.

Now, I too have spent a lot on my animals over the past few years. I have no problem doing so. Animals need medical care and it's not free.

But as a medical professional, I made a lot of money while being pretty extreme on the conservative side of testing and treatment, so I don't fundamentally believe that more in every case is always the gold standard.

I also agree that prevention is worth a pound of cure. Things like dental care aren't new at all, people should always have been brushing their pets teeth on a near daily basis. Food quality, exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, are all critical for preventing lifestyle ailments in animals.

However, sometimes you get a lemon like my cat (who was from a highly reputable breeder btw) who just has health issues, and that costs me money.

Speaking as a lemon myself who also costs my family A LOT of money in treatments, this is just reality sometimes. However, because of all of the horrifically painful treatments I myself have been through and the stress they have caused, I err more on the side of being unwilling to put animals through painful shit if I don't have an enormous amount of faith in it totally solving a problem and dramatically increasing their quality of life.

I'm also remarkably conservative when it comes to my own care in terms of testing and treatments. I know that having a complex medical condition makes me a piggy bank to providers. And although they may be totally ethical practitioners, at the end of the day, only I can judge if what they have to offer is worth the cost, pain, hassle for me, specifically. I have to make the same judgement calls for my animals.

This is tough for folks who aren't medically trained.

Cassie

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #16 on: September 26, 2022, 11:19:47 AM »
I have rescued dogs for 18 years. Some cost a lot and some very little. Because I am retired I now only have 2 instead of 4. They are Maltese and dentals are my biggest expenses. I now have pet insurance because my income was cut in half and I donít want to put a dog to sleep because I canít afford a treatment.

A friend of mine has collected more than she has paid in premiums. I chose healthy paws because thatís what she has. They donít pay for dentals or routine maintenance care. I will never be without a dog but when these 2 are gone I intend to adopt the smaller oldest dog at the shelter and rinse and repeat until I die.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2022, 11:22:41 AM by Cassie »

SunnyDays

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #17 on: September 26, 2022, 11:52:53 AM »
One thing I haven't seen mentioned: it is great that there are folks willing to take rescue dogs with significant behavioral and health issues and spend the money on them but that is not me. For a better shot (but no guarantee since this is a living being) at controlling behavior-related and health expenses, I would recommend buying (or getting an older dog that needs placement) from a reputable breeder.  This will take time and money but well worth it, in my opinion.

Edited to add: the above is obviously more about large expenses for younger dogs than end of life care.  For the latter, it is completely legitimate to have a total $ money you are willing to spend on care for a 14 year old dog.  My sister's much younger dog recently had a serious health issue that took some time to diagnose and they came very close to hitting the total figure my sister was willing to spend. If they were going to exceed that, the dog would have been put down.

I disagree with this.  I have no issue with registered breeders (backyard breeders in it for the money earn my wrath), but there can be specific medical problems in certain breeds that just are.  Look at English Bulldogs - they are a wreck of an animal and have been bred to look the way the do, which comes with a whole host of problems.  Humans have bred dogs to be "designer" pets with little regard for their ultimate utility and health.  And I have had a purebred, a Golden Retriever, who of course died of cancer, because 60some percent of them do.
The healthiest dogs, by and large, are mutts.  They have enough genetic variation to make them healthier animals.  My current dog is a Shepherd mix, with likely some Collie, Cattle Dog and maybe some type of Hound in her too.  Of course there's no guarantee with her, but so far, so good - excellent temperament and still healthy at age 8.
Not to mention all the mixed dogs clogging rescues and shelters because people want a fancy dog from a breeder.  The vast, vast majority of people do not need a dog specialized for a certain type of job and a rescue mutt will do nicely as a general family pet.

RainyDay

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #18 on: September 26, 2022, 12:01:01 PM »
It's a surprisingly tough call when more testing/imaging is actually beneficial, and it's constantly up for debate in medicine.

This is tough for folks who aren't medically trained.

Very interesting, and actually kinda reassuring to hear. 
During the final 8 hours of our beloved cat's life, the vet at the emergency clinic suggested that they keep him for the next 24-48 hours to stabilize him (IV fluids, enema, antibiotics, bone marrow biopsy, and probably some other stuff I don't remember) and then re-evaluate. Cost estimate: $3500.  Of course we were in an agony of indecision, grief, and tears, and hope is a powerful motivator.  But I asked her if those 48 hours would result in concrete answers as to whether the chemo treatments were working -- he had GI lymphoma, which is very aggressive, and it had relapsed.  She said "it might. Hopefully."  My thought, despite our grief, was "$3500 and the result is a *maybe*?!?"  I realize the vet could not give us guarantees, but she also didn't really suggest euthanasia as an option.  And yeah, her job is to give us options and of course it's not their decision to euthanize.  But he was 16-17 yrs old, and even if the chemo did work, we'd have weeks left, maybe a month or two if we were very lucky.  More importantly, his last 48-ish hours had not been good for him.  A bone marrow biopsy sounds painful, and he was already miserable in the clinic.  Why put him through another 2 days for a "maybe"?  So we said goodbye, even though the vet was suggesting further treatment.  My heart still holds a tiny bit of resentment toward her, though I know logically it's probably just a reflection of my grief and guilt.

Anyway, that was a long story to say that I didn't realize there were debates going on in medical circles about whether more testing/imaging is beneficial to the patient.  I had just assumed my indecision was emotional. 

PDXTabs

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #19 on: September 26, 2022, 12:11:40 PM »
Animals are animals, teeth cleaning?? That sounds like torture.

Well, normally they are put under for it, and especially for small dogs it can extend their lives and the quality of their lives. My 12 year old Shih Tzu gets one dental cleaning per year.

Sugaree

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #20 on: September 26, 2022, 12:18:46 PM »
Married to a veterinarian who is also FI...

We are not believers in pet insurance, it's only really useful in the first couple years of age for accidents.

Interesting and useful info!  I've always wondered whether pet insurance would be worth it.  My theory is that the insurance companies are in the business to make money, not to save me money, so in the end the odds are in their favor.

I can't think of any other ways to save money on vet costs, unfortunately!  The most *practical* way would be to make care decisions based on logic instead of emotion, but that never happens, at least for me.  In the moment, when my beloved pet is suffering or needs care (and I have the financial ability to pay for it), his care and comfort will always rule the day.  End-of-life care cost us $2400 for the final 5 days last month.  Ouch, but I don't regret it.  We have a separate line in our budget for vet costs.

When I was trying to decide on pet insurance, I got a bunch of different quotes and looked at what they covered.  In the end, I decided to go ahead and insure the 5 month-old Dane puppy, but not the 3 year-old Lab, until I was able to build up an emergency fund specifically for them. 

RainyDay

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #21 on: September 26, 2022, 12:24:54 PM »
One thing I haven't seen mentioned: it is great that there are folks willing to take rescue dogs with significant behavioral and health issues and spend the money on them but that is not me. For a better shot (but no guarantee since this is a living being) at controlling behavior-related and health expenses, I would recommend buying (or getting an older dog that needs placement) from a reputable breeder.  This will take time and money but well worth it, in my opinion.

Edited to add: the above is obviously more about large expenses for younger dogs than end of life care.  For the latter, it is completely legitimate to have a total $ money you are willing to spend on care for a 14 year old dog.  My sister's much younger dog recently had a serious health issue that took some time to diagnose and they came very close to hitting the total figure my sister was willing to spend. If they were going to exceed that, the dog would have been put down.

I disagree with this.  I have no issue with registered breeders (backyard breeders in it for the money earn my wrath), but there can be specific medical problems in certain breeds that just are.  Look at English Bulldogs - they are a wreck of an animal and have been bred to look the way the do, which comes with a whole host of problems.  Humans have bred dogs to be "designer" pets with little regard for their ultimate utility and health.  And I have had a purebred, a Golden Retriever, who of course died of cancer, because 60some percent of them do.
The healthiest dogs, by and large, are mutts.  They have enough genetic variation to make them healthier animals.  My current dog is a Shepherd mix, with likely some Collie, Cattle Dog and maybe some type of Hound in her too.  Of course there's no guarantee with her, but so far, so good - excellent temperament and still healthy at age 8.
Not to mention all the mixed dogs clogging rescues and shelters because people want a fancy dog from a breeder.  The vast, vast majority of people do not need a dog specialized for a certain type of job and a rescue mutt will do nicely as a general family pet.

Couldn't agree more with Sunny.  There are a ton of examples of purebred dogs whose problems were deliberately bred into them.  Pugs with breathing problems because of their rolled/squashed noses. Corgis, dachshunds, and bassets with ridiculously long backs and resulting back problems.  German Shepherds with back and hind end problems because they were bred with that weird crouching look.  And then there are the breeders who want certain coat colors and eye colors (Aussies, collies, etc, I'm looking at you) but those traits are recessive and when deliberately bred together, you get extra problems.  Oh, and let's not forget hip dysplasia!  Super common, and I haven't seen selective breeding that has helped that particular problem. 
Okay, I'll get back off my soap box! 
« Last Edit: September 28, 2022, 06:00:09 AM by RainyDay »

zygote

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #22 on: September 26, 2022, 12:27:13 PM »
I try to keep what is best for the animal in mind, knowing I have the funds. That's not to say the most expensive option is the best, though. I generally won't agree to a test unless the result will guide treatment (vs. simply giving us more info). Sounds like you've thought through all the same things I do.

Like Malcat, our primary vet office is a self-run clinic without any bells or whistles. If we need major diagnostics or extensive treatment, we get referred out to a bigger animal hospital. Our vet only suggested it once in the life of our last cat. I do think the specific office you choose helps.

Knock on wood, our current cat is quite healthy and has minimal vet costs. Just the annual check up and vaccinations. (Annual rabies shots are legally required where I live.) Her food costs us more than medical expenses, at least for now. She gets a mid-tier wet food in the hopes that it will help prevent lifestyle diseases down the road.

I do worry about dental costs, though. Our last cat always had bad teeth and did not allow us to get a brush anywhere near her mouth. Our current cat's breath smells so bad, but she won't let us brush her teeth either. She's not mean about it like the last cat, though. In fact, she's so excited to taste the toothpaste she just gnaws on the brush head and we can't do meaningful brushing motions on the surface of her teeth.

Anyone have any tips on training them to let you brush their teeth? (Though even that needs to be weighed with quality of life. In some cases, it may be worth paying to do the occasional dental rather than making your cat miserable with a daily brushing battle.)
« Last Edit: September 26, 2022, 12:29:16 PM by zygote »

Omy

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #23 on: September 26, 2022, 12:48:23 PM »
Start brushing teeth and coat and clipping nails when they're babies. They will get used to the routine and be much more compliant than if you start later in life.

Malcat

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #24 on: September 26, 2022, 12:51:25 PM »
I try to keep what is best for the animal in mind, knowing I have the funds. That's not to say the most expensive option is the best, though. I generally won't agree to a test unless the result will guide treatment (vs. simply giving us more info). Sounds like you've thought through all the same things I do.

Like Malcat, our primary vet office is a self-run clinic without any bells or whistles. If we need major diagnostics or extensive treatment, we get referred out to a bigger animal hospital. Our vet only suggested it once in the life of our last cat. I do think the specific office you choose helps.

Knock on wood, our current cat is quite healthy and has minimal vet costs. Just the annual check up and vaccinations. (Annual rabies shots are legally required where I live.) Her food costs us more than medical expenses, at least for now. She gets a mid-tier wet food in the hopes that it will help prevent lifestyle diseases down the road.

I do worry about dental costs, though. Our last cat always had bad teeth and did not allow us to get a brush anywhere near her mouth. Our current cat's breath smells so bad, but she won't let us brush her teeth either. She's not mean about it like the last cat, though. In fact, she's so excited to taste the toothpaste she just gnaws on the brush head and we can't do meaningful brushing motions on the surface of her teeth.

Anyone have any tips on training them to let you brush their teeth? (Though even that needs to be weighed with quality of life. In some cases, it may be worth paying to do the occasional dental rather than making your cat miserable with a daily brushing battle.)

I've personally never had a problem brushing any cat's teeth, but I have a cat bag, so my tip would be to use a cat bag.

Malcat

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #25 on: September 26, 2022, 01:30:38 PM »
It's a surprisingly tough call when more testing/imaging is actually beneficial, and it's constantly up for debate in medicine.

This is tough for folks who aren't medically trained.

Very interesting, and actually kinda reassuring to hear. 
During the final 8 hours of our beloved cat's life, the vet at the emergency clinic suggested that they keep him for the next 24-48 hours to stabilize him (IV fluids, enema, antibiotics, bone marrow biopsy, and probably some other stuff I don't remember) and then re-evaluate. Cost estimate: $3500.  Of course we were in an agony of indecision, grief, and tears, and hope is a powerful motivator.  But I asked her if those 48 hours would result in concrete answers as to whether the chemo treatments were working -- he had GI lymphoma, which is very aggressive, and it had relapsed.  She said "it might. Hopefully."  My thought, despite our grief, was "$3500 and the result is a *maybe*?!?"  I realize the vet could not give us guarantees, but she also didn't really suggest euthanasia as an option.  And yeah, her job is to give us options and of course it's not their decision to euthanize.  But he was 16-17 yrs old, and even if the chemo did work, we'd have weeks left, maybe a month or two if we were very lucky.  More importantly, his last 48-ish hours had not been good for him.  A bone marrow biopsy sounds painful, and he was already miserable in the clinic.  Why put him through another 2 days for a "maybe"?  So we said goodbye, even though the vet was suggesting further treatment.  My heart still holds a tiny bit of resentment toward her, though I know logically it's probably just a reflection of my grief and guilt.

Anyway, that was a long story to say that I didn't realize there were debates going on in medical circles about whether more testing/imaging is beneficial to the patient.  I had just assumed my indecision was emotional.

Oh indeed.

Here, let me give you a human example.

I get a certain treatment for my spine. I initially went to the US because there was only one clinic I could get in to during the pandemic. They did thousands of dollars in tests to justify the treatment.

Two years later I got in to see an MD in Canada who was trained by the exact same expert as the clinic in the US. He did NONE of the initial tests and didn't even bother looking at the ones that the US doctor did, because they don't change the indication or the outcome of treatment. In fact, the imaging the US doctor did is banned in Canada because it isn't useful or worth the risk of the exposure and the fear created by incidental findings.

I personally have been sales pitched just about every single modern diagnostic imaging tool in existence, and have never once felt there was enough benefit to justify their frequent use for my particular area of expertise, which tends to very commonly use expensive imaging as part of their profit driver AND as a major treatment justification tool. Advanced imaging is useful for other areas, just not mine.

It's A LOT easier to get someone to spend thousands of dollars on treatment when you can find something on an image and say "see! this is what's wrong." Except the relationship of findings on imaging to actual diagnostic fact are nowhere near as one-to-one as people are led to believe.

Did my US doctor find stuff on imaging? Yep
Does it explain my symptoms? According to him, it does, and he's very convincing
Does it have any impact on my recommended treatment? No, he was going to recommend the same treatment regardless of what the tests show, they're just a way for him to make more money and make his recommendation more compelling at the same time

Does he 100% believe that his testing is necessary and beneficial? Oh you bet, with a fervour that borders on religious conviction

Another example is that even regular mammograms are hotly debated as to whether they help more or harm more.

Every single test we order has to be analyzed in terms of the risks and benefits. More testing is not fundamentally better, but there is little agreement between professionals as to where the line is, especially when there are professionals whose beliefs are heavily influenced by their own self interest.

As for your specific example, my vet always offers euthanasia when a very old animal presents with extreme pain. The probability of the animal surviving in great shape should be assessed before subjecting a likely dying animal to more pain and indignity away from their family.

I will personally never again let a vet take an animal away from me for a few days of observation and testing if there's a good chance the animal will die. I wouldn't want that for myself, a million times over I would rather the risk of dying a bit prematurely than spending my last days alone, scared, not knowing what's happening, and being tortured by scary doctors who I can't communicate with who are motivated by money to keep torturing me.

People reading my journal know that my little dog had a health crisis last year and I wouldn't let the vet take him overnight, his symptoms were too vague to have a clear indication of what was happening. He needed fluids, so I asked for fluids and syringes to do sub-Q injections myself. If he was dying, he was going to die at home, curled up with me while we waited for test results, not alone in a cage, abandoned by his family to people who hurt him. It turned out he had pancreatitis, which could only be managed by watchful waiting and fluids anyway.

Will my approach one day result in the death of an animal who *maybe* could be saved by timely, heroic, advanced medical intervention? Yep, very possible. But it's guaranteed to prevent a lot of my critters from spending their last, painful days feeling terrified and abandoned.

If I thought spending 5-10K had ever made the death of one of my animals better, I would think differently. But I'm someone who has dealt with A LOT of animal death because I've adopted so many very old and sick rescue dogs, so I've had an animal die every year or so for a very long time. After the 5th or 6th time I went through the expensive vet hospital horror show, I stopped being willing to play along.

I took my 17 year old long-spine/short legs dog to a vet hospital a few years ago only because he woke up screaming at 2am after jumping off the bed and my vet wasn't open and I needed pain killers for him immediately. I ended up in a screaming fight with the vet who tried to tell me that he should be kept for a few days for a cardiology consult for the murmur he had had his whole life, and a dental consult for the canine that had been broken for a decade. My dog could barely walk and they were offering literally no treatment for what was obviously a spinal problem because it wasn't showing up on the xray, and there really isn't a treatment for a long dog whose spine is fucked.

They didn't want to keep him because of the pain that was making him scream. They were using his pain as an opportunity to keep him and guilt me into a bunch of treatment that wouldn't even help his pain. But they kept saying that since the xray didn't show anything, they couldn't rule out that his other issues weren't the source of the problem and he "really did deserve thorough testing because he's obviously such a good dog."

When I insisted he couldn't live with his current level of pain, they offered NSAIDs. Fucking NSAIDs!
I have a spinal injury, NSAIDs aren't going to cut it.

When I heard him screaming in the back room as they tried to get a urine sample from him while lying him on his injured spine, and were telling me that NSAIDs would manage him just fine, that's when I broached the subject of euthanasia and they aggressively shamed me. I snapped and went into full on fucking beast mode, which I've been told is abjectly terrifying.

By that point, my vet's office was open and his regular vet agreed it was likely his spine, that even if surgery was an option, with his age and heart condition, it wouldn't even be worth trying. The only meds strong enough to make him comfortable were strong opioids, so that's what we dosed him with until his vet could make time to put him down at the end of the day. He spent the rest of his last day high as a kite, surrounded by everyone who loved him, and he got a cheeseburger, which is our family tradition.

My vet even says "I think we need to consider a cheeseburger as a reasonable treatment" because we've been through this so many times.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2022, 01:36:58 PM by Malcat »

zygote

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #26 on: September 26, 2022, 01:41:21 PM »
Start brushing teeth and coat and clipping nails when they're babies. They will get used to the routine and be much more compliant than if you start later in life.

Unfortunately, both of my cats came to me as adult rescues so I've never had the luxury of training them young!

A cat bag probably would have been helpful for my last cat. For this cat, I don't know how much it would change things. She is honestly just excited to get the toothbrush in her mouth so she can aggressively chew on it and lick the toothpaste off.

Perhaps I just need to be more persistent and regular with it. When I give it a try and only brush maybe 2% of her tooth surface, I get pretty discouraged. But if I keep trying every day maybe I can get that percentage up.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2022, 01:48:03 PM by zygote »

Malcat

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #27 on: September 26, 2022, 01:46:17 PM »
Start brushing teeth and coat and clipping nails when they're babies. They will get used to the routine and be much more compliant than if you start later in life.

Unfortunately, both of my cats came to me as adult rescues so I've never had the luxury of training them young!

A cat bag probably would have been helpful for my last cat. For this cat, I don't know how much it would change things. She is honestly excited to get the toothbrush in her mouth so she can aggressively chew on it and lick the toothpaste off.

Perhaps I just need to be more persistent and regular with it. When I give it a try and only brush maybe 2% of her tooth surface, I get pretty discouraged. But if I keep trying every day maybe I can get that percentage up.

That's fine, you're getting the brush into her mouth.

Also brace the back of her head against you or a sofa or something, if she can't pull her head back, she can't control the brush as well. I wrap my aggressive cat in a cat bag, and then rest his head in my left armpit area into a mini headlock, and brush with my right hand.

Cats always have an instinct to go backwards, if you stop their ability to do so, they will often be more cooperative. But yeah, it generally takes a lot of persistence and patience.

zygote

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #28 on: September 26, 2022, 01:49:57 PM »
I took my 17 year old long-spine/short legs dog to a vet hospital a few years ago only because he woke up screaming at 2am after jumping off the bed and my vet wasn't open and I needed pain killers for him immediately. I ended up in a screaming fight with the vet who tried to tell me that he should be kept for a few days for a cardiology consult for the murmur he had had his whole life, and a dental consult for the canine that had been broken for a decade. My dog could barely walk and they were offering literally no treatment for what was obviously a spinal problem because it wasn't showing up on the xray, and there really isn't a treatment for a long dog whose spine is fucked.

They didn't want to keep him because of the pain that was making him scream. They were using his pain as an opportunity to keep him and guilt me into a bunch of treatment that wouldn't even help his pain. But they kept saying that since the xray didn't show anything, they couldn't rule out that his other issues weren't the source of the problem and he "really did deserve thorough testing because he's obviously such a good dog."

When I insisted he couldn't live with his current level of pain, they offered NSAIDs. Fucking NSAIDs!
I have a spinal injury, NSAIDs aren't going to cut it.

When I heard him screaming in the back room as they tried to get a urine sample from him while lying him on his injured spine, and were telling me that NSAIDs would manage him just fine, that's when I broached the subject of euthanasia and they aggressively shamed me. I snapped and went into full on fucking beast mode, which I've been told is abjectly terrifying.

By that point, my vet's office was open and his regular vet agreed it was likely his spine, that even if surgery was an option, with his age and heart condition, it wouldn't even be worth trying. The only meds strong enough to make him comfortable were strong opioids, so that's what we dosed him with until his vet could make time to put him down at the end of the day. He spent the rest of his last day high as a kite, surrounded by everyone who loved him, and he got a cheeseburger, which is our family tradition.

My vet even says "I think we need to consider a cheeseburger as a reasonable treatment" because we've been through this so many times.

Why does it seem like everything escalates outside of business hours? My last cat died of mammary cancer and was stable and comfortable for a long time, even when we knew it had metastasized and the end was inevitably near. But then one evening her breathing rate skyrocketed, and it was clear that it was time. It was around 10 PM, so our only choice was the ER vet, which whisked her back to an oxygen chamber alone.

They suggested some further testing, but I'm grateful they didn't push it when we gave her history and said we knew it was time. We weren't there to stabilize her, we were there because it would have been cruel to wait for the morning when our regular vet would be open to euthanize her.

Honestly I was kind of shocked that they didn't charge anything for the ER visit or the time in the oxygen chamber. They just charged $50 or so for the euthanasia drugs. I really appreciated that.

--

And thanks for the tip about bracing the back of her head, I'll give that a shot!

Sibley

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #29 on: September 26, 2022, 02:26:17 PM »
Start brushing teeth and coat and clipping nails when they're babies. They will get used to the routine and be much more compliant than if you start later in life.

Yes, but not necessarily. My 14 year old cat just went to the vet today to be knocked out, brushed and bathed because she's not doing it herself and she won't let me do it. I don't regularly bathe my cats, but I do brush them, since kittenhood.  Thus why we also did the expensive bloodwork which checks everything, because while she's not a fan of getting brushed, trying to bite me is extreme and I'm quite concerned there's something else going on. Knocked out because if she was trying to bite me, then anyone else is going to get shredded.

$600 later, she's clean and hopefully more comfortable. And with any luck, she'll either start caring for herself or at least allow me to assist.

Edit: based on how much fur the groomer got off her and her behavior now, Arwen was in pain from the sheer amount of dead fur. This small, short haired cat lost just over half a pound of fur today. She's now purring and still kinda out of it, but the fact that she's obviously more comfortable means the money was worth it. She now officially falls into the geriatric category for me, which means quality of life is the most important factor.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2022, 04:50:37 PM by Sibley »

Fresh Bread

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #30 on: September 26, 2022, 02:59:21 PM »
The stories from @RainyDay and @Malcat about tests being offered for pets that needed euthanasia make me so sad and mad!

Males me thankful for my vet. It's in the city in a wealthy area, and while all around the vets are suggesting expensive tests, they keep it to what's needed. I wonder sometimes if it would be different if I had pet insurance but I don't think so. It was even just a locum there who said to me a few months before my last dog was pts "I think we are at end of life care now". I had no idea, he was just trucking on as usual but she suspected he had something that would end him I think.  I'm so grateful she said that because it put the seed in my mind and meant things didn't get dragged out later.

SunnyDays

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #31 on: September 26, 2022, 05:21:22 PM »
@zygote, I just had my cat's teeth cleaned and the vet gave me an infant toothbrush.  It's rubber with soft rubber bristles and goes over your finger.  If your cat now associates a hard brush with a head on it with the yummy toothpaste, you could try the infant brush instead without toothpaste at first, then offer the cat a bit on your finger once you're done.  Slowly move up when you put the paste on until it's back at the beginning of the process.

chasesfish

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #32 on: September 27, 2022, 03:57:09 AM »
The stories from @RainyDay and @Malcat about tests being offered for pets that needed euthanasia make me so sad and mad!

Males me thankful for my vet. It's in the city in a wealthy area, and while all around the vets are suggesting expensive tests, they keep it to what's needed. I wonder sometimes if it would be different if I had pet insurance but I don't think so. It was even just a locum there who said to me a few months before my last dog was pts "I think we are at end of life care now". I had no idea, he was just trucking on as usual but she suspected he had something that would end him I think.  I'm so grateful she said that because it put the seed in my mind and meant things didn't get dragged out later.

I just want to share the other side of this...

My wife always wanted to be a veterinarian.    It was life's goal.   Graduated near the top of her class in high school, undergraduate, and was valedictorian of her Veterinary class.   Graduation year 2007.   

We moved to Atlanta, ground zero of the housing bust.   Not because prices declined the worse there, but because such a large percentage of the population was employed related to new home construction or in the manufacturing of building supplies.   The majority of her career was spent wrestling with economic euthanasia, having to put down pets with fixable ailments because the owners could not pay.   It was the opposite of her dreams, being the doctor of death for animals that could be helped....but there was no money.   She accumulated six figures of debt to earn $45,000 to $70,000 while working for struggling business owners.   Veterinarians were near the top of the list for suicide, with a lot of this driven by the difference between expectations and reality.

We were fortunate - I earned great money and she was incredible on the expense side and FI was our way out.   We were CoastFI and she scaled back to relief work in 2014 then stopped all together shortly thereafter.   Most veterinarians don't get that escape ramp.

https://www.nomv.org/about/mission/

Thanks for listening to the rant, I just struggled with all of the "greedy veterinarian" talk.   I can promise you that not a single veterinarian goes into this "for the money".   They may change after getting into the profession and/or get jaded over time, but if you are a college student and have any focus whatsoever on making money, veterinary medicine will not be your choice.   

Fresh Bread

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #33 on: September 27, 2022, 03:59:04 AM »
The stories from @RainyDay and @Malcat about tests being offered for pets that needed euthanasia make me so sad and mad!

Males me thankful for my vet. It's in the city in a wealthy area, and while all around the vets are suggesting expensive tests, they keep it to what's needed. I wonder sometimes if it would be different if I had pet insurance but I don't think so. It was even just a locum there who said to me a few months before my last dog was pts "I think we are at end of life care now". I had no idea, he was just trucking on as usual but she suspected he had something that would end him I think.  I'm so grateful she said that because it put the seed in my mind and meant things didn't get dragged out later.

I just want to share the other side of this...

My wife always wanted to be a veterinarian.    It was life's goal.   Graduated near the top of her class in high school, undergraduate, and was valedictorian of her Veterinary class.   Graduation year 2007.   

We moved to Atlanta, ground zero of the housing bust.   Not because prices declined the worse there, but because such a large percentage of the population was employed related to new home construction or in the manufacturing of building supplies.   The majority of her career was spent wrestling with economic euthanasia, having to put down pets with fixable ailments because the owners could not pay.   It was the opposite of her dreams, being the doctor of death for animals that could be helped....but there was no money.   She accumulated six figures of debt to earn $45,000 to $70,000 while working for struggling business owners.   Veterinarians were near the top of the list for suicide, with a lot of this driven by the difference between expectations and reality.

We were fortunate - I earned great money and she was incredible on the expense side and FI was our way out.   We were CoastFI and she scaled back to relief work in 2014 then stopped all together shortly thereafter.   Most veterinarians don't get that escape ramp.

https://www.nomv.org/about/mission/

Thanks for listening to the rant, I just struggled with all of the "greedy veterinarian" talk.   I can promise you that not a single veterinarian goes into this "for the money".   They may change after getting into the profession and/or get jaded over time, but if you are a college student and have any focus whatsoever on making money, veterinary medicine will not be your choice.

I never called the vets greedy. They weren't considering what was best for the dog (or cat), that's my issue.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2022, 04:03:24 AM by Fresh Bread »

Sugaree

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #34 on: September 27, 2022, 04:53:35 AM »
The stories from @RainyDay and @Malcat about tests being offered for pets that needed euthanasia make me so sad and mad!

Males me thankful for my vet. It's in the city in a wealthy area, and while all around the vets are suggesting expensive tests, they keep it to what's needed. I wonder sometimes if it would be different if I had pet insurance but I don't think so. It was even just a locum there who said to me a few months before my last dog was pts "I think we are at end of life care now". I had no idea, he was just trucking on as usual but she suspected he had something that would end him I think.  I'm so grateful she said that because it put the seed in my mind and meant things didn't get dragged out later.

Same with my vet.  I lost my boy in February.  They were straight with me that they *could* do chemo and buy him maybe 4-6 more months.  But that they wouldn't necessarily be good months and that the humane thing would be to let him go.

RainyDay

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #35 on: September 27, 2022, 05:10:14 AM »

Thanks for listening to the rant, I just struggled with all of the "greedy veterinarian" talk.   I can promise you that not a single veterinarian goes into this "for the money".   They may change after getting into the profession and/or get jaded over time, but if you are a college student and have any focus whatsoever on making money, veterinary medicine will not be your choice.

I didn't mean to imply that the ER vet was greedy or motivated by money.  I'm sure that's not the case, and that she was sincerely trying to give us options.  And, of course, she did not live with our pet and see his rapid decline.  Everyone wants a miracle cure and I suspect she was trying to give us one. 

Malcat

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #36 on: September 27, 2022, 05:53:34 AM »
The stories from @RainyDay and @Malcat about tests being offered for pets that needed euthanasia make me so sad and mad!

Males me thankful for my vet. It's in the city in a wealthy area, and while all around the vets are suggesting expensive tests, they keep it to what's needed. I wonder sometimes if it would be different if I had pet insurance but I don't think so. It was even just a locum there who said to me a few months before my last dog was pts "I think we are at end of life care now". I had no idea, he was just trucking on as usual but she suspected he had something that would end him I think.  I'm so grateful she said that because it put the seed in my mind and meant things didn't get dragged out later.

I just want to share the other side of this...

My wife always wanted to be a veterinarian.    It was life's goal.   Graduated near the top of her class in high school, undergraduate, and was valedictorian of her Veterinary class.   Graduation year 2007.   

We moved to Atlanta, ground zero of the housing bust.   Not because prices declined the worse there, but because such a large percentage of the population was employed related to new home construction or in the manufacturing of building supplies.   The majority of her career was spent wrestling with economic euthanasia, having to put down pets with fixable ailments because the owners could not pay.   It was the opposite of her dreams, being the doctor of death for animals that could be helped....but there was no money.   She accumulated six figures of debt to earn $45,000 to $70,000 while working for struggling business owners.   Veterinarians were near the top of the list for suicide, with a lot of this driven by the difference between expectations and reality.

We were fortunate - I earned great money and she was incredible on the expense side and FI was our way out.   We were CoastFI and she scaled back to relief work in 2014 then stopped all together shortly thereafter.   Most veterinarians don't get that escape ramp.

https://www.nomv.org/about/mission/

Thanks for listening to the rant, I just struggled with all of the "greedy veterinarian" talk.   I can promise you that not a single veterinarian goes into this "for the money".   They may change after getting into the profession and/or get jaded over time, but if you are a college student and have any focus whatsoever on making money, veterinary medicine will not be your choice.

To be VERY clear, in my experience of having worked in high overhead clinics and having been a business consultant in the medical world, it's exactly when medical professionals *aren't* making enough money that they become the most greedy.

When clinics owners are struggling to pay their bills, that's when suddenly they start believing that every case needs an ultrasound so that they can pay off the giant loan on the machine.

I've seen this among doctors, dentists, chiros, vets, you name it. Desperately needing more money to pay your overhead makes just about any business owner more tunnel visioned towards the bottom line.

Someone who needs to push unnecessary treatment to survive is going to be *more* motivated to do so, not less. Are there exceptions, absolutely, but the general fact that vets struggle doesn't make our very real experiences with greed invalid.

FTR, I'm also a medical professional who is always accused of being greedy, so I'm very well aware of the difference between legitimate services being expensive and a money-motivated professional pushing treatment to maximize the value of their time.

People who own animals should be prepared to spend on them. Period. But that doesn't mean they should think uncritically about what's being recommended.

That said, when it comes to most animals, it's the owners who are the fucking assholes and failing to give them decent care and then failing to pay for the professional care that they need. Never in a million years would I say that greedy vets are more of a.problem than cheap, neglectful pet owners.

Never, no, nope. Pet owners are the fucking worst, and the reason I didn't consider vet when I was choosing what kind of medical training I wanted. I knew I would end up in jail for assault if I did.

It's the same way I can't treat kids anymore. Parents make me insane.

But the fact that pet owners are awful doesn't eliminate the fact that a lot of vets under financial pressure are more inclined to over treat.

That's why my advice is to find vets in situations that have less financial pressure. I don't question ANYTHING my vet recommends, I just do it and pay for it.

My advice isn't to refuse what your vet recommends, my advice is to shop around until you find a vet that you feel comfortable trusting. Because there are plenty of great vets out there.

And in my experience as a fellow medical professional in a very similar procedural career is that those good vets are THE FIRST ones to complain about the unethical, bottom-line motivated ones.

The fact that it's not all vets doesn't stop it from being a real problem.

JupiterGreen

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #37 on: September 27, 2022, 06:41:01 AM »
I try to keep what is best for the animal in mind, knowing I have the funds. That's not to say the most expensive option is the best, though. I generally won't agree to a test unless the result will guide treatment (vs. simply giving us more info). Sounds like you've thought through all the same things I do.

Like Malcat, our primary vet office is a self-run clinic without any bells or whistles. If we need major diagnostics or extensive treatment, we get referred out to a bigger animal hospital. Our vet only suggested it once in the life of our last cat. I do think the specific office you choose helps.

Knock on wood, our current cat is quite healthy and has minimal vet costs. Just the annual check up and vaccinations. (Annual rabies shots are legally required where I live.) Her food costs us more than medical expenses, at least for now. She gets a mid-tier wet food in the hopes that it will help prevent lifestyle diseases down the road.

I do worry about dental costs, though. Our last cat always had bad teeth and did not allow us to get a brush anywhere near her mouth. Our current cat's breath smells so bad, but she won't let us brush her teeth either. She's not mean about it like the last cat, though. In fact, she's so excited to taste the toothpaste she just gnaws on the brush head and we can't do meaningful brushing motions on the surface of her teeth.

Anyone have any tips on training them to let you brush their teeth? (Though even that needs to be weighed with quality of life. In some cases, it may be worth paying to do the occasional dental rather than making your cat miserable with a daily brushing battle.)

I just wanted to say that we also add tooth enzyme to their water (you can buy at a pet store search for enzymatic oral care). I believe it is the same stuff in the toothpaste (I don't know how effective it). Our dogs were great, but our cats are iffy with toothbrushing still we try knowing how important it is.

Cassie

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #38 on: September 27, 2022, 10:58:15 AM »
2 years ago the price of a dental on a 5lb dog went from 360 to 600 if they didnít pull teeth. People from California have been moving into Nevada and I guess the vets figured that they could raise the prices. Because of this increase because my bill is usually 1k per dog instead of getting them yearly I had to switch to every 18 months. In June I had one of my dogs at the vet for a ear infection and even though it had only been 6 months since her last dental the vet suggested another one. I just gave her a look like WTF and said no. I have tried all the supplements to put in water, etc. Maltese just have bad teeth.

Malcat

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #39 on: September 27, 2022, 11:51:07 AM »
2 years ago the price of a dental on a 5lb dog went from 360 to 600 if they didnít pull teeth. People from California have been moving into Nevada and I guess the vets figured that they could raise the prices. Because of this increase because my bill is usually 1k per dog instead of getting them yearly I had to switch to every 18 months. In June I had one of my dogs at the vet for a ear infection and even though it had only been 6 months since her last dental the vet suggested another one. I just gave her a look like WTF and said no. I have tried all the supplements to put in water, etc. Maltese just have bad teeth.

It's a little dog thing.

My poodle has very few teeth left and I've brushed them since he was a puppy.

Cassie

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #40 on: September 27, 2022, 12:05:46 PM »
I totally agree Malcat. I had one Maltese with no teeth by age 7. The one big dog I owned had beautiful teeth with no dentals when he died at 13.

achvfi

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #41 on: September 27, 2022, 01:52:49 PM »
I am quite surprised by amount of money spent on pets here. May be its quite normal

This made me curious on how much we spend, it seems be about about $600 a year including one major surgery due to an accident.

Watching pets struggle is gut wrenching. But my unpopular take is if my pet has a chronic issue or is not able to live a quality life with out medication or medical intervention, its time to put pet to rest.

Malcat

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #42 on: September 27, 2022, 02:00:03 PM »
I am quite surprised by amount of money spent on pets here. May be its quite normal

This made me curious on how much we spend, it seems be about about $600 a year including one major surgery due to an accident.

Watching pets struggle is gut wrenching. But my unpopular take is if my pet has a chronic issue or is not able to live a quality life with out medication or medical intervention, its time to put pet to rest.

I've spent thousands on dental cleanings, acute emergencies, such as my dog's recent pancreatitis attack, and a non-life-threatening but very unpleasant health issue for one of my cats.

If the cat were suffering, I would put him down. Instead he's very happy, but he has some digestive issues that result in him flying around the house while he poops, often in the middle of the night.

This is something I am NOT willing to put him down for, and I am VERY willing to spend a few thousand here and there to try and resolve.

We just spent a few thousand on having his anal sacs removed because that was likely to solve the problem...it didn't. So now we have him on daily gabapentin, which somehow seems to help. We discovered this by accident by using it for travel. It costs about $100/mo.

All in all, basic dental care, emergency care, and manageable, non life threatening, ongoing care and prescriptions have added up to several thousand.

I am very conservative about the procedures I will put an animal through, but I make that decision in terms of suffering of the animal, not cost.

If the treatment is minimally invasive/easy to recover from, and likely to dramatically improve the animal's quality of life, I'm going to pay for it. Period.

Cassie

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #43 on: September 27, 2022, 07:22:51 PM »
I am quite surprised by amount of money spent on pets here. May be its quite normal

This made me curious on how much we spend, it seems be about about $600 a year including one major surgery due to an accident.

Watching pets struggle is gut wrenching. But my unpopular take is if my pet has a chronic issue or is not able to live a quality life with out medication or medical intervention, its time to put pet to rest.

Most pets need medication at a certain age. If everyone felt like you there wouldnít be too many older pets.  Part of being a responsible pet owner is to provide health care. If you arenít willing to spend money on a pet then you shouldnít own one.

achvfi

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #44 on: September 28, 2022, 08:46:48 AM »
I am quite surprised by amount of money spent on pets here. May be its quite normal

This made me curious on how much we spend, it seems be about about $600 a year including one major surgery due to an accident.

Watching pets struggle is gut wrenching. But my unpopular take is if my pet has a chronic issue or is not able to live a quality life with out medication or medical intervention, its time to put pet to rest.

Most pets need medication at a certain age. If everyone felt like you there wouldnít be too many older pets.  Part of being a responsible pet owner is to provide health care. If you arenít willing to spend money on a pet then you shouldnít own one.

We do take good care of our pet. We provide him with comfort, good quality food, quality medicine and healthcare. But we are not willing to spend thousands of dollars a year on his needs. This is a difficult but conscious choice we make not to inflate our lifestyle.

Our threshold on money for his care is few hundred bucks a year. It could be thousands and tens of thousands, I am sure most people have a threshold too. I think OP found he probably reached his/her threshold as well.

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #45 on: September 28, 2022, 10:07:06 AM »
I am quite surprised by amount of money spent on pets here. May be its quite normal

This made me curious on how much we spend, it seems be about about $600 a year including one major surgery due to an accident.

Watching pets struggle is gut wrenching. But my unpopular take is if my pet has a chronic issue or is not able to live a quality life with out medication or medical intervention, its time to put pet to rest.

Elrond has hyperthyroidism. This is quite common in older cats. He takes daily medication to manage this, which is $30 a month or so, and needs bloodwork to check his levels every 6 months. Outside of that, he's a healthy, happy kitty who just wants to cuddle and sleep in the grass. If this falls under your criteria of time to put the cat down, then I disagree quite vehemently with you.

achvfi

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #46 on: September 28, 2022, 10:46:43 AM »
I am quite surprised by amount of money spent on pets here. May be its quite normal

This made me curious on how much we spend, it seems be about about $600 a year including one major surgery due to an accident.

Watching pets struggle is gut wrenching. But my unpopular take is if my pet has a chronic issue or is not able to live a quality life with out medication or medical intervention, its time to put pet to rest.

Elrond has hyperthyroidism. This is quite common in older cats. He takes daily medication to manage this, which is $30 a month or so, and needs bloodwork to check his levels every 6 months. Outside of that, he's a healthy, happy kitty who just wants to cuddle and sleep in the grass. If this falls under your criteria of time to put the cat down, then I disagree quite vehemently with you.
To be more specific I will rephrase my statement as

"But my unpopular take is if my pet has a chronic issue or is not able to live a quality life with out expensive medication or medical intervention, its time to put pet to rest."

Keeping in mind that forum is full of relatively rich people. I might pay $30/month too if it keeps my dog comfortable for a year or two. It is not that much money to me, but it is lot of money for most people in the world. It can mean not having enough to put food on table at end of the month.

Cassie

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #47 on: September 28, 2022, 11:00:07 AM »
You are in the Midwest where vet care is much cheaper. When I was raising my kids we didnít have pets because of the expenses. My priority was my children. Now I have dogs and they are my priority. I know many seniors that after their pets died they didnít get another because of the cost. Sadly I had to downsize by natural attrition from 4 rescue dogs to 2 because of the cost. I may eventually only have one. Itís sad because so many need homes.

 I would have much more discretionary money if I didnít have them. Even the heart guard that all dogs that leave the house need is 188/year for the 2 of them. I know people that donít get their small dogs dentals and let them have rotten teeth. Thatís cruel. You canít get any type of surgery here for under 1k. Most cost 4-6k which is why I carry insurance with a 500 deductible and 70% reimbursement for catastrophic care. This is the lowest level available.

Malcat

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #48 on: September 28, 2022, 11:42:19 AM »
I am quite surprised by amount of money spent on pets here. May be its quite normal

This made me curious on how much we spend, it seems be about about $600 a year including one major surgery due to an accident.

Watching pets struggle is gut wrenching. But my unpopular take is if my pet has a chronic issue or is not able to live a quality life with out medication or medical intervention, its time to put pet to rest.

Elrond has hyperthyroidism. This is quite common in older cats. He takes daily medication to manage this, which is $30 a month or so, and needs bloodwork to check his levels every 6 months. Outside of that, he's a healthy, happy kitty who just wants to cuddle and sleep in the grass. If this falls under your criteria of time to put the cat down, then I disagree quite vehemently with you.
To be more specific I will rephrase my statement as

"But my unpopular take is if my pet has a chronic issue or is not able to live a quality life with out expensive medication or medical intervention, its time to put pet to rest."

Keeping in mind that forum is full of relatively rich people. I might pay $30/month too if it keeps my dog comfortable for a year or two. It is not that much money to me, but it is lot of money for most people in the world. It can mean not having enough to put food on table at end of the month.

A very common opinion is that people who can't afford reasonable care for pets should not have pets.

I can't fathom choosing to have a pet for my own pleasure only to kill it even though it has a totally treatable problem, just because it costs a few thousand a year.

As I said above, I'm very conservative as to what I will put an animal through, so I err much more on the side of euthanasia than a lot of other people do, but that has to do with the ethics that animals can't consent, not because it's expensive.

If I can't afford reasonable care for an animal, then I won't choose to have pets. OR, I will choose to be a foster who homes animals that have their vet costs paid for by the rescue agency.

My mom was a dog breeder and she had it in her contracts that people were obliged to return the dog instead of euthanizing it/rehoming it themselves if it developed health issues they weren't willing to/unable to pay for. No questions, any dog could and must be returned. The clause wasn't actually enforceable, but thankfully people generally adhered to it.

She took back several dogs from one line that unexpectedly developed serious epilepsy around the age of 8. She was able to rehome each one, often with a wealthy medical professional who didn't mind caring for a special needs dog with expensive medications.

I am personally a medical professional who has specifically only adopted older, medically compromised, but happy, stable dogs for exactly this reason.

achvfi

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Re: Vet Expenses
« Reply #49 on: September 28, 2022, 01:31:11 PM »
A very common opinion is that people who can't afford reasonable care for pets should not have pets.

I can't fathom choosing to have a pet for my own pleasure only to kill it even though it has a totally treatable problem, just because it costs a few thousand a year.
People have had pets for thousands of years, what ever resources they may have or afford, your "very common opinion" is not so common nor wide spread. People can let nature take its course beyond certain effort. What is reasonable is the question here.. Spending few thousand a year on a pet is not reasonable by any means to most  people. Its not fiscally responsible either.

We all have different priorities and we can act on their basis.

If it is your priority go for it but that doesn't mean that is the only way for everyone.