Our pets provide us with fun, companionship, and unconditional love. In return, we incur the responsibilities that go along with pet ownership, including veterinary care. Providing our pets the preventive health care they deserve, as well as keeping them in a safe environment, significantly reduces the risk of illness and injury. Together, you and your veterinarian can take control of your pet’s health.
What health care considerations should I plan for when determining how much to set aside for my pet’s care?
o Costs for regular preventive health care such as immunizations, parasite control, and dental care
o Costs for treatment of unexpected illness or injury
o Breed-specific predisposition to certain conditions such as:
§ Allergies and dermatologic diseases
§ Ear and/or eye disease
§ Cardiovascular, endocrine and immune-related diseases
§ Orthopedic conditions
o Costs to provide appropriate daily care including proper nutrition for the lifestage and lifestyle of the pet
What kind of veterinary care do I have available to me for my pet?
Today, pet owners have access to the same advanced technologies that are available in human medicine, including emergency healthcare services, veterinary specialists, diagnostic imaging, x-ray, MRI, laboratory services, surgery, pain management, boarding services, and more. Management and treatment of health conditions like diabetes, thyroid disorders, hip dysplasia, oncology, arthritis, and dermatological issues are also enabling animals to live longer, pain-free.
What ways can I pay for veterinary care?
o Regular contributions to a savings account designated for veterinary care
o Credit card reserves
o Medical credit cards
o Monthly payments to a preventive care plan available through many veterinary hospitals to cover normal preventive care services
o Pet health insurance to cover unexpected illness or injury
How can my veterinarian help me reduce the cost of veterinary care?
The best way to reduce the cost of veterinary care is to invest in preventive care for your pet early on. This means scheduling regular exams during which your veterinarian can help your pet avoid preventable conditions and detect diseases early on, which helps to avoid costly and painful treatment down the road. Just like with humans, preventive health care is widely recognized as a method of helping reduce long-term medical costs.
How do I know what kind of preventive care is right for my pet?
Talking with your veterinarian can help you determine what kind of preventive care is right for your pet based on its lifestage and lifestyle. Each pet is different and unique - your veterinarian can give you a personalized assessment of what kinds of routine tests and care your pet needs to stay healthy. Preventive care includes routine tests such as bloodwork, fecal tests, X-rays, parasite preventives, immunizations, dental cleanings, and more.
I love my pet, but do I really need to come see my vet regularly for dental cleanings?
Yes! You visit your dentist regularly for dental cleanings and procedures, so it makes sense that your pet receives the same care. An estimated 80% of adult dogs have periodontal disease, which is painful for your pet and can lead to other health issues. Because 60% of a dog and cat tooth lies beneath the gum line, regular cleanings by your veterinarian are necessary to keep your pet’s mouth disease-free.
How does the cost of veterinary care compare to that of human health care?
Veterinary care is actually a good deal compared to human medicine. We are lucky enough to live in a world where veterinary hospitals can use the same technologies that are being used in human health care. Thankfully for pet owners, veterinary hospitals offer medical care for a fraction of the cost of human medicine. In human medicine, we often do not see the cost of health care, as it is generally covered by a health care program and we do not realize the greater cost.
How are veterinary fees determined?
Fees for veterinary health care take into account the complexity of the case and treatment options, operational cost of maintaining hospital facilities with the appropriate technologies and equipment, and support personnel to provide the elevated level of service and care that pet owners expect and deserve.
Why do the fees at my veterinary hospital differ from those at the hospital my friend takes their dog to?
It is important to recognize that just like any other health care service, veterinary hospitals provide varying levels of care and expertise. Hospitals may be different in the services they offer. As consumers of health care services, pet owners must choose based on a combination of the quality care they seek as well as their financial constraints.
What can I do to keep my pet healthy and avoid costly and painful disease treatments?
Scheduling regular examinations with your veterinarian and following recommendations for routine tests (bloodwork, fecal tests, X-rays) can help your veterinarian spot disease before it becomes serious. Diet and exercise are vital, too: Asking your veterinarian for a nutritional recommendation for the individual needs of your pet can contribute to your pet’s overall health.
Pet owners are in control of their pet’s health. Providing appropriate nutrition in a safe, enriched environment is the obligation of the pet owner. Seeking proper veterinary care and developing a strong relationship with the veterinary practice team is also essential in promoting good health and longevity. Providing appropriate nutrition, environment and veterinary care is a small payback for the unconditional love, enrichment of our lives, companionship and joy that pets give us.
For more information, please visit the AAHA position statement on Meeting the Cost of Pet Care.