Pet Medical Expenses Add Up this Month

by Kay Lynn

Pet Expenses

Charger enjoying the Beach

I got a notice from Mint.com last week about unusual spending in a specific budget category.  It seems I spent $550 this month on veterinary services.  Unfortunately it wasn’t a mistake and it didn’t even include the $36 dog license.

Dog License Renewal

Charger, our basset hound, was due for  his rabies shot and I couldn’t renew the dog license without proof of the immunization.  Both are good for three years, but had to be done by March 20th.

I plan for his annual checkup so we made the appointment for a couple of weeks ago and took him in.  Our bill was slightly higher than usual because he needed antibiotics but we were told he also needed his teeth cleaned.  It wasn’t news to us as it had been recommended the year before, but was put off due to cost.

There’s a Sale

The good news was that the clinic was having a 50% off special on teeth cleaning which meant the price would be $200 instead of $400.  That convinced us to move forward so we scheduled an appointment for the following week.

Then I thought about our cat, Buster, who at the age of eight had never had his teeth cleaned.  We don’t brush his teeth, as we do Chargers, because my husband came away with shredded arms after our first and only attempt.

Buster needed a checkup first so we scheduled his appointment for the same day as Charger’s cleaning to consolidate trips.

Final Bill

The good news is that Buster is in good health and didn’t even need his teeth cleaned.  But his check-up was $125 including three vaccinations.  Charger has pretty teeth again (with good-smelling breath).

Hopefully, we won’t enter the vet’s door other than to stock up on monthly preventatives until next March.  I need time to recover from that unusual spending activity and replenish the pet care sinking fundHow much do you spend on your pets at the vet each year?

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Sustainable PF March 23, 2011 at 8:08 am

We had a really pricey January …
First our one cat needed dental work – which is REALLY costly!
He got home and lost 1/2 kg! And got some sort of skin issue, which was also passed to a 2nd cat.
By the end of the month we’d paid about $1000 on our pets, not including food and litter (we have 3 cats and a Newfie dog).

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Kay Lynn March 23, 2011 at 12:23 pm

That is a lot of money in one month! Keeping our pets healthy is worth the cost, but people who can’t afford it should not have any.

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krantcents March 23, 2011 at 8:50 am

Why are Vet bills so much? Whenever our dog goes to the Vet, it is always upwards of $150.

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Kay Lynn March 23, 2011 at 12:24 pm

I wonder if we’re immune to the actual cost of healthcare because our bills are paid by insurance? I can’t imagine getting out the vet’s office for less than $150 either.

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kh March 28, 2011 at 9:42 am

Well … $150 for a full physical and tests is pretty good. Consider that a vet has to have the same kind and amount of schooling as a human medical doctor – except they can’t specialize in just ONE kind of body. They have to learn cats, dogs, birds, horses, etc. Your standard house pet veterinarian has to be an internist and a surgeon and a diagnostician and an ob/gyn and all the other specialties rolled into one. Then they have to run a clinic that’s full of the same kind of medical equipment that is found in your human doctor’s office – everything from a centrifuge to x-ray machines. Plus they have to maintain stocks of medication because no one wants to bring their pet in and be told “I don’t have the drugs to treat him”.

Yes, I’m biased because I’m dating a vet, but I used to feel the same way about how expensive vet care was .. until I saw what kind of money he spends and time he puts into his clinic every single day. (And when I watched him stress out about having to replace a $40,000 xray machine in 24 hours or cancel his clinic hours for the next 2 days because he couldn’t run any xrays.)

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Julie @ The Family CEO March 23, 2011 at 6:53 pm

We have two dogs and last year spent over $1300 on them. That didn’t even include teeth cleanings which, like you, I keep putting off due to cost. Expensive little creatures!

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JT McGee March 23, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Whoa!? Dog license? I’ve never heard of that.

We have three dogs, and they’re a handful. Thanks to a low cost (as in money, it takes a lot of time to get in!) vet we don’t spend all that much on routine pet costs. My mom laughed the first time we took them to this particular vet, since we got out of there with and older dog and a puppy for just under $100 for both including heartworm etc. Of course, seeing as they don’t do appointments (extremely low overhead, rural clinic/vet), we spent at least two hours waiting to get in.

Even with the time investment, it is more than worth the extra distance for the savings.

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Teresa March 24, 2011 at 3:21 am

We have a 4 year old cat.I know that October was an expensive month at our house for the vet. First was annual checkup and immunization,which was 110, then 3 days later a 135 dollar bill for an abcess in his L paw, then 2 weeks later a 165 dollar bill for a skin issue. I looked into pet insurance, but the deductible is so high, it wouldn’t cover it.

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Funny about Money March 26, 2011 at 11:35 am

Since the ailing Gershep and the ancient greyhound passed on to their furry fathers, my bills have been negligible. So far the little Corgi hasn’t cost a dime.

I think you’re right that vet bills look high to us because health insurance shields us from the real cost of human medical care. Interestingly, veterinarians don’t make anything like as much as we think they do. A lot of the revenue from their bills has to go to paying employees and covering the rent and utilities.

Google the necessity of canine immunization. You may be surprised. We over-immunize our pets to a fantastic degree. You might want to talk to your vet about this. Most of them are aware of it, and when they understand you know it, too, they will admit your dog doesn’t need as many shots as they’ve been getting.

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