Are Veterinarian Fees Extortion?


Sitting in any veterinarian clinic’s office and especially, emergency clinics, you can see desperate people, spending money that they don’t truly have to spend, trying to save their animals lives or improve their health. The more we do that, the more vets seem to charge and there’s no end to how high they can take those fees it seems.

I know that having a veterinarian clinic is a huge overhead and prices need adjusting according to that overhead. Something has to cover it and no one would begrudge a vet who has taken the time and money to be schooled to help our pets, having a decent salary/income but, there has to be a reasonable level at which they need to be regulated.

I live in a large city where having a pet has become fashionable or trendy. People will spend extraordinary amounts of money on clothes, coats, boots, toys, grooming, beds and the fluff stuff for these pets so, it only follows suit that seeing that people are spending that kind of money on those things, vet care can command ridiculously high amounts of money as well and get it.

The problem is, there are those of us who simply want a pet to be a pet, a dog to be a dog, a cat to be a cat and are not out there, spending a fortune on the frills for them but, want proper vet care for their health and now, cannot afford it because people have made dogs and cats into their children and allowed vets to push up their fees.

Where are the old days when a veterinarian went into practice out of pure love for animals and drew a modest or comfortable salary from their practice but, didn’t overcharge just because they could get it?

I recently had one of my pets in serious and critical health trouble. In spite of my constant upkeep in vet checks, tests, visits and follow-through with meds and whatever was prescribed, my pet became critically ill and needed help. Some over $10,000.00 later (that I didn’t have to begin with), my pet lost her life and I’m left with a debt that will take me years to pay off. My question is why?

While sitting in the veterinarian emergency clinic, I watched one person after another, carrying or taking in very ill dogs and cats, in tears, begging for help for their beloved family members. Before they could be seen, they had to hand over a credit card and were instantly charged a $400 plus fee. Once assessed, a preliminary fee was produced and another charge of several hundred to several thousand were put onto their cards before the pet was even treated for anything. If they couldn’t produce a credit card or didn’t have the upper credit limit, they were turned away in tears, broken-hearted, watching their pets die. It’s heart breaking to say the least.

I think it’s time that governments stepped in and regulated the veterinarian practices now by monitoring the fees able to be charged. It’s now no longer a matter of health for pets but rather, a big business venture. One that not many of us can afford.

For those who are not animals lovers, one could say, “if you don’t have the money, don’t have the pet.” Or, “put the animal down.”

For those who are animals lovers, you know exactly what I’m saying.

Is it time for there to be some sort of governing body so that vets cannot over-charge? Is it time that vets are put on a limit as to what can be charged?

Have your say here.

Published by ponderinglifetoo

I'm a wife, mother, artist, photographer and bookkeeper. I love writing out my thoughts in journals but, am finding my way to sharing these with others now.

4 thoughts on “Are Veterinarian Fees Extortion?

  1. I totally agree. just paid $315 to save my dear cat, but instead they put him down and I’m left with an empty carrier and heart while they got the money I don’t have, which we now owe $1900 on care credit. they are emotional and financial extortionists!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am so very sorry for your loss, marc. I’ve been there many times, myself. I find that even when they do euthanize a beloved pet, there are bills which we are left with beyond our own grief. I know all too well what that feels like. Even the “push” to spend more and more money at a difficult time (ie: ashes, urns, paw prints etc.) are all far too much for one to bear emotionally as well as financially.

      There is one place where I live that asks for money up front. If you don’t have the money ready at say, 2 a.m. right away, they turn you and your beloved pet away without helping in any way, even if the pet is bleeding or near death. It’s “Credit Card please”. Never mind that perhaps, you don’t have one and that your daily limit at your banking machine limits how much cash you can take out during such a time, they won’t even look at your pet without a credit card with a lot of credit on it. At least give people time to pay and look at the pet.

      While I see the cost of running a business in today’s world with all of its overhead etc., I also see the “Sales pitches” that happen and it’s completely sad and unnecessary.

      It is all business though. Sadly.

      Again, my deepest condolences as again, I know all too well what this feels like to be walking in your shoes with that heavy loss on your shoulders. I’ve been there.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This article struck a cord with me. As the owner of two elderly dogs, I absolutely agree that veterinarians need to be regulated and accountable for what they are charging people these days. It is absolutely unethical and heartless.

    I used to admire Veterinarians. I have met some I still do. They are the ones that actually CARE about the pet. They are practical and form a supportive kind relationships with the pet owner. They deserve to be paid fairly but understand that people do not have a money tree in the back yard. They are the kind that you are not scared to approach in fear being bankrupted or treated with complete lack of respect. They used to do surgery for case studies when necessary and not overcharge an owner. They entered school for the love of animals and were highly approachable. Drugs costs were fair and reasonable.

    They did not bully pet owners into unnecessary tests and incredibly expensive drugs and procedures that require anaesthesia that can actually kill your pet. Meanwhile scolding you about weight and teeth and making you feel like you did something wrong when you were really trying hard to care for your pet. Oh maybe buy the expensive dog food in clinic too! Very disrespectful and no wonder many current ones are rapidly losing pet owners trust and respect too. Oh and by the way weight can be Cushing’s Disease and not just overfeeding! I was hassled and tried to exercise and low fat feed my dog before that was picked up too! Here I received all of these arrogant lectures and this was missed?

    But as of late it HAS become about the money and very mercenary. Show us the money huh? It absolutely infuriates me that they overcharge for drugs up to 200% when you are dealing with the sorrow that your pet is sick. You need to care for your pet but the costs are absolutely startling. It is creating moral distress. It is heartbreaking when you can’t afford to care for them without creating complete financial hardship. I have seen horrible articles about people going into horrendous debt, having to sell major assets just so that they can pay these people. Or they have to make the terrible and sickening decision to forgo necessary drugs and treatments, or put the pet down. Or the animal faces neglect. This from a group of people who claim to love animals. On of my friend’s old house mates was charged $20,000 for a dog that was quilled in the lung by a porcupine. They were young and no insurance. Hello poor house. SHAMEFUL!

    I am facing this right now with a senior dog. She is sick and I have been coping with atrocious drug costs and then my vet won’t prescribe them without another 200 dollars for a blood test the demands for these more and more frequent. This in addition to drugs and visits. 600.00 later. Pure EXTORTION! Now she is sick and I tried to find out what is going on. I just got slammed with another 400 dollars for xrays and still no answer. I am scared to take her in again because I might LOSE MY HOUSE! This is so wrong and absolutely DISGUSTING that I have nobody to turn to in my dog’s final hours to counsel me because I CAN’T AFFORD IT! This after a longstanding working relationship and loyalty to this clinic.

    Veterinarians, you may notice a reluctance for visits for a reason. WE CAN’T AFFORD YOU ANYMORE!!! Then you go on about us neglecting our pets. How dare you! You are the reason!!! Get a reasonable program for us that helps cover your equipment and overhead and doesn’t kill people financially. You are shooting yourself in the foot when you do this to people. People won’t get pets anymore or they will neglect or abandon them.

    If you claim to care about pets and owners you need to recognize that something needs to change here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear M:

      My heart goes out to you in your quest to try to keep your beloved furbabies alive and well. I know the pain that this brings because we do struggle with knowing what to do and are being “bullied” into spending money where we don’t need to, rendering us unable to afford the things that we really need to do for our babies. They are not just “animals” nor are they a business for us. They are FAMILY!

      You have said so much and said it so very well and from the heart. My hope is that vets will read this and think twice. Do they really need that cottage, extra car or extravagant renovation to their home?

      I totally agree that our vets need a decent salary to live on…especially, given the hours that they put into their practise. They certainly don’t work the hours we see listed on their doors. They are there long after and before as well. However, having said that, there’s a difference between “comfortable and reasonable” and pure extortion!

      As pet owners and lovers, we are constantly faced with tough decisions. “Do we or don’t we?” Yet, we are at the vet’s mercy because they do tend to make us fee as though we’re doing something wrong by refusing blood tests that are considered “check points” or dental care that requires a general anesthesia to “clean their teeth”. Of course we would love to have our pet’s teeth healthy and clean BUT, this is where the issue comes into play. What if we have something worse happen/needed and we’ve just spent over several hundred dollars for a cleaning that wasn’t really needed?

      Very unfortunately, there are very few vets nowadays who are purely into their chosen profession out of pure love for animals and their wellbeing. They may start off that way but, eventually, become knowledgeable that their pal’s practise is doing so much better because they’re pushing unnecessary testings, procedures, meds and highly overly marked-up vet only foods. That’s when they realize that vet X, Y and Z have bigger homes, cars, cottages, vacations and whatever and start raising those prices and pushing more and more that they normally would never have suggested.

      And, who can afford Pet Insurance?!!!

      I just looked into this idea for a new pet that we’ve added to our family. The lowest premium was $70/month! That did NOT cover the annual exams, shots, heartworm testing, foods, prescriptions etc. It only covered a certain limit for “accident” and even there…you needed a lawyer to figure out the exclusions. If I put $70/month away in an interest giving GIC or bank account, I’d likely have the money I need when I need it. I can’t even do that when the vet is pushing procedures and meds and foods that take that much and more up each month but, would not be covered by that $70/month insurance! It’s totally absurd and another rip-off for most. (Another money grabbing scheme).

      I hope vets will read this blog and your response and realize that while they are suggesting things that aren’t really needed, we are going broke and doing without things for ourselves to pay for their hefty bills and salaries. It’s not love for their work at that point. It’s purely business.

      Thank you for your care and response. It is very well appreciated!

      Liked by 1 person

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