Vet Bills Unpacked: Why is Vet Care So Expensive and What Can You Do About It?

’I love my fur-baby, but those vet bills!’ Sound familiar? It’s a common sentiment amongst pet parents - why does vet care cost so much?

Vet Bills

In an Instagram Q&A, Dr. Jeff Werber gives his insight on why caring for your beloved pets can sometimes leave our wallets feeling a little lighter.


So, what makes vet care so expensive?

 1.      High Price of Pharmaceuticals

Vet Bills

Maneuvering the maze of pet health often involves pharmaceuticals. Be it a simple course of antibiotics to combat an infection or long-term medications for chronic conditions like diabetes or heart disease, your pet's medicinal needs can, and often do, tally up to a hefty bill.

You see, veterinary pharmaceuticals aren't just scaled-down versions of human meds. They're a specialized field unto themselves, requiring dedicated research, rigorous testing, and regulatory approval, akin to human counterparts. The result? The costs stack up and the final tab inevitably gets passed onto the consumer - the pet parent.


2.      Pricey Equipment & Technology

Vet Bills

Stepping into a modern veterinary clinic, you may be surprised by the array of sophisticated equipment, mirroring what you'd find in human hospitals. The MRI machine, for example, is not a petite, doggy-sized version but an exact counterpart to those used in human medicine.

These machines are a significant investment, often costing upward of a million dollars. The cost isn't dictated by the size of the patient, but by the machine itself, its maintenance, and the highly skilled staff needed to operate it and interpret the results.

This advanced technology, although it represents a sizable chunk of a clinic's operational costs, is crucial for providing top-notch veterinary care. MRI machines can detect conditions from brain tumors to spinal cord diseases, conditions that may have been undiagnosable in the past.

While technological investment can cause vet care to seem expensive upfront, it leads to improved diagnoses and treatments, and ultimately better health outcomes for our furry friends.


3.      Steep Staff Salaries

Vet Bills

To provide quality care for your beloved pets, you need top-notch veterinarians on board. Attracting and retaining such high-caliber professionals in the veterinary field doesn't come cheap.

As per Dr. Jeff Werber, the salaries for skilled vets must compete with not only other vet clinics but with the burden of significant educational loans that many new veterinarians carry - often amounting to over $250,000.

This isn't merely a game of numbers or a salary competition; it's about securing the best hands and minds to care for your four-legged family members. The high salaries reflect the long years of intense study, specialized training, and the ongoing commitment to keep abreast of the latest developments in veterinary medicine.

High salaries, therefore, serve a dual purpose: they ensure that the best vets are enticed to join and remain with a practice, and that they can manage their student debt without being overwhelmed. Ultimately, these costs find their way into the overall pricing of vet care, raising it incrementally but for a good cause.


How Do You Know If a Vet Practice is Overpriced?

To know if a vet’s services are overpriced, shop around by asking friends and family, and calling vet hospitals. Research, compare, and educate yourself about average costs for services in your area.

Be diligent by checking the whole package cost instead of being lured in by membership fees that promise free unlimited exams. Ask for itemized bills to understand where your money is going.

It's also recommended to inquire about costs upfront and communicate your budget to your vet, who can often offer alternatives or payment plans. Remember, the goal is to ensure your pet receives appropriate care without draining your wallet.


So, What Can You Do to Offset Some of These Costs?

1.      Regular Visits

Vet Bills

Prevention, prevention, prevention. Ensuring your pet gets regular check-ups, vaccines, and preventive treatments can save you a lot in the long run.

2.      Pet Insurance

Vet Bills

Consider pet insurance - the earlier, the better. It may seem like an unnecessary cost when your pet is young and healthy, but it’s much easier to insure a pet with no pre-existing conditions!

3.      Health Savings Account (HSA)

Vet Bills

As Dr. Jeff Werber affirms, HSAs, traditionally employed for humans, can be leveraged for your pets' healthcare too, depending on the specifics of your plan. An HSA allows you to contribute pre-tax dollars, amassing a 'rainy day fund' for medical expenses, including those for your furry companions.

By effectively reducing your taxable income and offering a cushion for unexpected vet expenses, an HSA serves as a valuable tool to manage and control pet healthcare costs without compromising on the quality of care.


Ultimately, while vet care may seem costly, it's about maintaining the health and happiness of our beloved fur-friends. That's priceless, right?"

Vet Bills

Visit Dr. Jeff Werber’s Instagram account (@werbs_dvm) to view and submit questions and answers on weekly AMAs – or call and leave a voicemail at 424-835-0576. Your call will be returned posthaste. For emergencies, download Dr. Jeff Werber’s app Airvet, a video-chat option for veterinary needs at any time of day or night!