If you are a pet owner you know that when you take your furry friend to the vet, the costs can add up quickly. We’ve all felt the familiar fear and worry when the vet tech tells you that your bill is ready. We wonder how much it will be this time, all the while knowing that we would spare no expense to keep our four-legged family members healthy. But do you ever wonder why are veterinary bills so expensive?
Veterinary Bills – Why Animal Care Costs Can Add Up
The treatment your veterinarian and their vet technicians provide is worth the price you must pay. Often you’re finishing up with the vet when the receptionist delivers the good news: The bill is ready for you.
But why should you have to pay so much to help a poor, defenseless (not to mention super cute) creature? After all, if you can’t find charity at the vet’s office, where can you?
Ask Georgette Wilson, DVM, manager of vet operations at Pfizer Animal Health in New York City, and she’ll tell you that charity is all a matter of perspective.
“If you’re looking for an educated, compassionate, and fair hand in the care and well-being of your animal, chances are your vet’s already giving it in droves,” Wilson said. “Unfortunately, too many people fail to recognize the value vets bring to their pets. We’re asked over and over again that, if we love animals so much, why aren’t we offering our services for free?”
To answer that question — and help you understand why veterinarians are worth their weight in currency — the following are four things you may not know about them, but should.
They just may change the way you think about paying on the way out.
#1: They are trained as vigorously as doctors of human medicine.
Consider this: It takes four years of college and four years of veterinary school to become a vet. Then, students must pass both national and state exams to practice, and take continuing education courses to keep up with new developments.
It’s statistically harder to get into veterinary school than it is to get into a human medical school because of the limited number of vet schools, as compared to medical schools. (There are only 28 vet schools in the United States).
Vets going into specialty practice (there are about 20 in veterinary medicine, from cardiology and ophthalmology to behavioral medicine and surgery, etc) go on to do an internship and residency, with each step becoming more competitive.
“When all is said and done, a vet can have as many as 11 to 12 years of additional training after high school,” Wilson said. “Most people don’t know that.”
That’s a lot of training, with many years dedicated to learning, to just give away services for free!
#2: It’s not about the money for vets.
While today’s veterinarians can make a good living, it’s not nearly as much as their counterparts in human medicine.
Depending on where they live and their specific field of practice, they can make anywhere from about $35,000 (for equine veterinarians) to $117,000 a year (for laboratory animal veterinarians), according to the most recent estimates. Vets in private practice earn around $50,000, and those in government earn around $70,000.
“The reward for us is really not about money because we don’t make as much as many people think,” Wilson said. “It’s really about seeing pets get better.”
Something that many people don’t think about is how much it costs to run a veterinary office as well. Yes, your bill will go up if you have to have specialized work done for your animal, but doing specialized work also costs your vets more.
Do you think you pay too much on your veterinary bills or do you think the costs are fair?