Annual vet bills - what is reasonable?
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  1. #1
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    Annual vet bills - what is reasonable?

    Hi all,
    New to the forum. Looks like a great place for info.

    I've noticed the last couple of years my vet bills keep getting more and more expensive. I've used the same place for the past five years or so trying to build a relationship with a vet so they know my dogs well. But the costs of their services make me wonder if I'm getting a bad deal. This past visit I elected not to have them give a few vacacines and bloodwork cause they had estimated the bill was going to be $375.00. I want to keep my dog healthy and all but with two dogs this is getting a little out of control.
    Surfie had emergency surgery late last year. We're just now paying that one off!!

    i made them give me a breakdown of the last bill so I could compare.
    Office visit $45.00
    Distemper Vac $49.75
    Heartworm Test $38.95
    Fecal test $53.00
    nail trim $16.25
    Biohazard waste mgmt $4.99!!!

    Plus some non-routine things this visit:
    Cytology of the ear $48.25
    Cytology of a bump on her leg $52.60
    Medicine for the bad ears and skin $30.20

    TOTAL $339.00
    And when she is due for her rabies shot it's even more.

    They tried to add on a "senior wellness profile" which is basically complete blood workup for another $175 but I elected not to do it.
    And when they need more heartworm/flea medicine it gets CRAZY expensive. That stuff ain't cheap either.

    Diagnosis of the bump on her leg was inconclusive without doing a full biopsy. It's a solid tumor they said. Then they started talking about radiation treatments, amputation, etc... Don't even want to think about that.

    Uno, my other dog, is also due for annual vet visit. May have to wait a month or two for that one!
    His estimate was $275!!

    Not trying to put my dogs health at risk here but just want to see if I'm getting ripped off and compare what other people pay for their vet visits.

    Last edited by nuthouseinva; 02-15-2009 at 07:45 AM.

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    Senior Member Inga's Avatar
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    Re: Annual vet bills - what is reasonable?

    Sadly it sounds about right. I think that people are opting to do vaccinations themselves in many cases. By law you still have to have your vet do your rabies shot. Some folks look for low cost vaccination clinics in their areas. Life is just getting more and more expensive. I know how you feel, I don't think my dogs ever walk out of the vets office without at least a $250.00 bill. Pray for no more emergencies.


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    Re: Annual vet bills - what is reasonable?

    That's on par with my yearly bill per dog. Then there's the added cost of non routine visits, about two or three a year at $100-$300 each. I have been with the same vet for so long that I get a 'bring four and get the fifth one free' discount. Unfortunately I don't see any way of lowering those costs without becoming a vet myself, and that would probably cost more money anyway.

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    Senior Member Moonshadow's Avatar
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    Re: Annual vet bills - what is reasonable?

    Are you going to a VCA hospital? The estimate looks like VCA pricing to me.

    If that's the case then maybe you should think about going to a different vet, many privately owned practices are cheaper than that. However, most VCA hospitals have more equipment and they can do more things in house and don't have to refer you out to other vets.

    Maybe this isn't a VCA hospital? It just looks like one of their estimates to me.

    You may want to think about health insurance for your dogs. Most of my guys are insured....but that's kind of a 6 of one, half dozen of the other thing....it may or may not pay off. We can't insure our old guys but the way I figure it is that how far am I going to go to try to save a 14 year old dog? I just wouldn't put my seniors though a whole lot. (although this is coming from me who spent $2500 on throat surgery for a 12 year old LOL) We spend about $250 a month for their health insurance, each have a $100 deductable and then they pay 80 percent of the bills after that.

    Some of the policies cover vaccinations and heartworm meds, etc. so it may be something for you to think about.

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    Re: Annual vet bills - what is reasonable?

    My vet costs are somewhere around $60/$70/yr/dog. They go in for heartworm tests and nothing more. I have been using my vet for 5 years and I doubt he knows my name because he only sees me twice a year (one time for each dog). I don't want him to get to know me well enough to have a relationship with him.

    Quote Originally Posted by nuthouseinva View Post
    I want to keep my dog healthy and all but with two dogs this is getting a little out of control.
    The way to keep a dog healthy is to feed a good diet and don't put a lot of chemicals into them.

    i made them give me a breakdown of the last bill so I could compare.
    Office visit $45.00
    Distemper Vac $49.75
    Heartworm Test $38.95
    Fecal test $53.00
    nail trim $16.25
    Biohazard waste mgmt $4.99!!!

    Plus some non-routine things this visit:
    Cytology of the ear $48.25
    Cytology of a bump on her leg $52.60
    Medicine for the bad ears and skin $30.20

    TOTAL $339.00
    And when she is due for her rabies shot it's even more.
    You could have saved some money here. You see, the vet is a businessman first, vet second. As a businessman, its his #1 job to maximize profits. Once you realize this and stop trying to have a relationship, the better off you will be.

    Here are some places you could have saved money:
    Distemper shot (probably unnecessary).............. $49.75
    Fecal test unless there were symptoms ............. $53.00
    Nail Trim (you can do that yourself)................... $16.25
    Total .................................................. ...... $119.00

    So there is some money you could have saved right off the bat. I can't see the tumors but there is a good chance that they weren't necessary. Sounds like they tried to use scare tactics to get you to do them.

    You can get heartworm/flea meds much cheaper at places other than a vet's office. If you research heartworms and heartworm prevenatives, you can find much cheaper ways to treat and be just as effective. For example, my dogs get 4 heartworm pills a year. Properly distributed, thats all I need for my part of the country. They get flea treatments when I see a flea and no other time. Most years, one treatment a year for fleas is all I need to give them.

    Not trying to put my dogs health at risk here but just want to see if I'm getting ripped off and compare what other people pay for their vet visits.
    What you want is not unreasonable. Just remember that "maximize profits" is the main goal of the vet and he will try to sell you all kinds of products and services. Your job is to be educated and know what is necessary and what is not.

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    Re: Annual vet bills - what is reasonable?

    My vet bills are sky high just like yours. Annual visit is between 300-400. Throw in a couple of visits for not feeling well, think close to 1500 for one year. I took out pet insurance about 6 months ago, and haven't been there once. Isn't that the way it always works out? I did notice out local pet chains, like Petco, etc. do wellcare shots certain days of the month for well under 100. Maybe try that for rountine visit, I will in future too.

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    Senior Member Wynpyp's Avatar
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    Re: Annual vet bills - what is reasonable?

    I guess it really does depend on where you live. My annual vet bill is about $100 per dog or less. That is just the vet exam, vac's and revolution. We don't have any issues with flea's and ticks up here or heartworms, but they get 1 dose per year just in case. If I add in a blood work-up, the total would be around $150 per dog. Knock on wood, my dogs have been pretty healthy so far.

    The dog I am taking care of right now is not very healthy. In the 1.5 months that I have had her, her total is about $400. That's not including her vac's and stuff that her owner did. So far she has been sick twice in the time that I have known her...I have known her for 8 months. So her yearly total would be ALOT higher than my guys. She is also only 2 yrs old.

    We don't have low cost/free spueter clinics or vac clinics but at least we don't worry about heartworms.
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    Re: Annual vet bills - what is reasonable?

    Before my daughter WORKED for the vet (as she does now) we paid:

    *office visit $40
    *shots rabies $20
    *other shots $25
    *fecal float $18 (I do one fecal per year on a different dog each year...if one of them is positive they will all need to be treated anyway)
    *blood cbc $37 ($20 if cobined with other blood tests)
    *blood panel (not including cbc) $57
    *nails...I always do them but if the animal is under sedation our vets do them for free as a courtesy...they know you are paying a ton for any kind of surgery...if they are not coming for surgery they charge $6-10 depending on the size of the dog (and probably disposition!)
    *dentals used to be the most expensive yearly (and sometimes more often) cost...$120 and up depending on extractions and medications

    Since my daughter works for the vet now they have shown us how to do most things ourselves and they discount our vaccinations. No discount on the office visit charge though, as that is what pays the rent. Dental cleanings really aren't all that difficult if you keep up with it. We check for tartar build up every month...do a simple scrape and polish as soon as it's needed. Nails are done every two weeks or any time they are clicking on the hardwood floors. I keep a regular nail file (the kind they do acrylic nails with for humans) in the drawer next to my recliner and often just file down a bit of their nails when we are watching tv. They get brushed each night and bathed when they need it...or the weather finally breaks!

    We switched to raw feeding and our dogs haven't lost a tooth since. They also haven't needed to go to the vet for anything other than annual exams. I'm not advocating that everyone switches to a raw diet. But if you watch what and how much you feed your dogs it really makes a difference in their overall health.
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    Re: Annual vet bills - what is reasonable?

    At my vet its $93 for the vet visit, distemper and rabies.

    $27 extra for lepto, giardia and bordatella. Those three are very common in my area so its recommened to get them. (but if you do all three, or two (as dogs over 2 don't get the giardia vaccine) you get $10 off

    $42 for a fecal

    $53 to $90 for heartworm test (depending on if you do the combo or not)

    Revolution can be around $100 for 6 months depending on size of the dog

    Nail trim is $19

    Puppy shots are $65 for boosters (which is the office visit, distemper and rabies when they are getting their last boosters)

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    Senior Member ladyshadowhollyjc's Avatar
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    Re: Annual vet bills - what is reasonable?

    I don't think I'd pay 16.50 for a nail trim. If my vet charged my 16.50 to cut my dogs' nails I'd go out and buy my own clippers.
    If your dog has been on monthly heartworm preventative, without missing any, I don't see why a HW test is necessary.

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    Re: Annual vet bills - what is reasonable?

    Ay yi yi! I'm grateful for my vet and the area I live in. I can usually get out of the annual check-up visit for about $30 a dog, plus the price of Heartgard. My vet doesn't charge an office fee for routine visits, and shots are only $12.50 each. He doesn't do a heartworm test every year if your dog has been on Heartgard, and he does shots on a once-every-other-year schedule. I don't do bloodwork on a regular basis (only if they seem sick, or for older dogs). No routine fecals. I haven't faced any health issues, such as lumps, but he does have a wait-and-see kind of attitude.

    I have used other vets for more serious issues (my vet is a farm vet, and doesn't have a full pet hospital) or for the "exotic" pets (rabbits and ferrets). I have recently found my favorite vet, I'm pretty sure I'll be using only him for serious issues from now on, instead of shopping around. It seems like most vets around here charge around $25 for an office fee, and about $15 for vaccines. Around $20-$30 for tests, such as heartworm for dogs or FeLV for cats.

    The prices you pay may be average for your area. If you really love your vet, the price is worth it, but if you feel that he/she doesn't listen to you or doesn't connect with your dogs, you might want to call around to find another vet that you absolutely love.
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    Senior Member agility collie mom's Avatar
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    Re: Annual vet bills - what is reasonable?

    Annual check-up: $35 for one pet $55 for two
    Annual distemper:$21
    Tri-annual distemper: $27
    Annual rabies: $21
    3-yr rabies: $25
    Fecal flotation (sent out to lab): $17.50
    Heartworm test: $37.50
    Disposal fee: $4.00
    Nail trim (reg): $8
    Nail trim (difficult dog): $12
    Nail trim (sedated): $40

    I keep my dogs on heartworm medicine year round so I do not do the fecal.
    If I have a problem than I would do the fecal. My dogs also have flea meds applied monthly. So chances of having tape worm are slim to none. I trim my dogs nails myself.
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    Re: Annual vet bills - what is reasonable?

    You're not the only one! The first year I had Teddie I spent over $1000 in just vet bills. It was like a trip a week/ever other week for the first few months.

    I usually use two vets; one for his vaccines and another for all other medical needs. When it comes to things like vaccines I can get them for less than half than at my normal vet. They are a good vet, but my main one isn't the type to get you the bill and send you out the door as fast as they can. They will stay in the room as long as you need and will answer any and all questions you have. I'm also doing Velma's Heartworm treatment at my main vet. So even though they are more in most areas it's worth every penny.

    At my vaccine vet-
    Annual check-up: $25
    bordetella: $15
    Parvo/distemper: $15
    rabies: $5
    heartworm test: $20

    At my main vet-
    Annual check- up: $45
    bordetella: $28
    parvo/ distemper: $25 (I think)
    rabies: $30
    Heartworm test: $40
    Fecal flotation (sent out to lab): $25
    Disposal fee (around): $10
    Nail trim: $15
    Nail trim when they have to sedate (i did this twice with Teddie): $200
    Last edited by TeddieXRuxpin; 02-15-2009 at 05:08 PM.

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    Senior Member sheltiemom's Avatar
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    Re: Annual vet bills - what is reasonable?

    I wouldn't be able to afford dogs where you guys live! Here, in north GA, this is my breakdown...

    $20 office visit
    $23 parvo/distemper
    $13 rabies
    $16 fecal
    nail trims are complementary

    I don't get bordatella anymore, but it's $12, and the office visit doubles if it isn't routine...sometimes there's something extra here and there, but I usually get out of there between $75 and $175 per dog. It's the HW prev and flea prev that add up.
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    Senior Member Spicy1_VV's Avatar
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    Re: Annual vet bills - what is reasonable?

    Quote Originally Posted by nuthouseinva View Post
    Office visit $45.00
    Distemper Vac $49.75
    Heartworm Test $38.95
    Fecal test $53.00
    nail trim $16.25
    Biohazard waste mgmt $4.99!!!
    Your dog is very cute.

    Anyway just because you don't take your dog in all the time or do everything they want, doesn't mean your risking your pets health or being unreasonable.

    Office Visit about $25
    Fecal $10
    Rabies $10

    I don't give an annual distemper vaccine and never would. That is over vaccination IMO. They get distemper in their puppy shots which probably cost me about $4-5 each.

    I don't do HW test once a year. So don't remember the cost.

    I use ivermectin for heartworm prevention, it is very cost effective. We don't have flea/tick problem.

    As for the tumor that could be serious. I wouldn't let them string you along and milk you though. That can actually make it worse on your pet, like if it is cancer and they keep trying to do more and more things to get more and more money your pet could be fine one day then take a turn for the worse. All because they didn't take the quickest and best route of treatment, only the slowest and most costly. You need to find out what it is, if it is cancer get it removed and have some follow up treatment. If its not and nothing serious its not an urgency to have it removed.

    I trim their nails myself. Sometimes the vet will do it, which is complimentary, no charge. I wouldn't pay them to do something I can do at home, easily for free. They do the rabies so I get the certificate.

    I can't really say you are getting ripped off or whats reasonable. Prices vary by region and even vet to vet within the same town or area. I'm sure I could get 7 different prices for one thing from 7 different vets.

    Quote Originally Posted by BidDawgs View Post
    You could have saved some money here. You see, the vet is a businessman first, vet second. As a businessman, its his #1 job to maximize profits. Once you realize this and stop trying to have a relationship, the better off you will be.
    On the contrary, having a "relationship" with my vet has saved me plenty of money and allowed me to be able to make payments when need be. If my vet didn't know us, our dogs, know when times have been not as great financially, ect I doubt they'd be apt to cut us deals on visits or meds. I doubt they'd trust us to bring a dog in and pay later (people get turned away all the time that can't pay, sometimes dogs die because of this). I'm sure they feel much better about maximizing profits on nameless faces who are just consumers then on those customers they have a relationship with and understand their needs and limits.

  17. #16
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    Re: Annual vet bills - what is reasonable?

    Wow, those are some pretty high prices for some of that stuff. I won't complain about out our costs again.

    Mine only go in once a year for rabies, and the old ones don't even go for that. I run in for Intercepter and that's it.

    Only twice have I had to take a dog in for sickness or something other than a routine visit.

  18. #17
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    Re: Annual vet bills - what is reasonable?

    seems high to me, my vet bill is like this :
    pro examination $35
    vaccines (any) $20 each
    fecal test $12
    pedicure $12
    neuter $113
    lump removal $35
    thats like all ive ever had to pay for.

  19. #18
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    Re: Annual vet bills - what is reasonable?

    WOW, you are getting charged for an exam on top of paying that outrageous price for distemper!?! I'm a vet tech and everywhere I've worked (including current place) an exam is included in the price of the distemper ($40). And vets wonder why people do their own distemper. Sheesh! And $53 for a fecal is highway robbery!

  20. #19
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    Re: Annual vet bills - what is reasonable?

    Well, I work at a vet's office in Indiana. Our pricing is considered to be a little lower than average and here is a breakdown.

    Annual Exam - $43
    Rabies 3yr - $21
    Distemper Parvo 3yr - $19
    Bordetella & Lepto - $19 each
    Heartworm test - $33
    Fecal test - $19

    so roughly around $160 a year. We recommend Wellness bloodwork - $80 on pets that are ill or seniors. Don't know what i'd do if total costs were $300 plus
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  21. #20
    Senior Member Cracker's Avatar
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    Re: Annual vet bills - what is reasonable?

    I worked at a vet for ten years. The costs of running a good vet hospital can be astronomical (I've seen the bills) so costs reflect that. The equipment that they use, the supplies they go through, the staffing costs (remember you rarely see all the employees that work there) and the cost of running/maintaining the building and local taxes all cost money.
    It's usually more expensive in the city than in suburban areas. I pay a lot at my vet (the one I worked for) because I trust him and his experience and knowledge. I do think it's important to have a relationship with your vet for the same reasons Spicy mentioned. I get payment plans okayed and get discounts on some items because he knows I WILL pay the costs over time and that he won't have to take a loss.

    My annual costs with Cracker have luckily been low because I do a lot of the "extras" like nails, basic first aid, etc myself. But it's easily in the three hundred dollar range with HW/flea meds, vaccines, her anti anxiety meds and the occasional boo boo I can't fix. I have insurance and gladly pay my 40 bucks a month for it so I don't ever have to make a decision on treatment based exclusively on cost.

    Having basic first aid experience has saved me a bundle. Knowing when to go or not to go to the vet is the most important thing.
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