Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Blog the Change - "Unnecessary" vet visits



When ever you talk about cat health, inevitably the conversation turns to cats at the vets.. how much they don't want to go, how badly they react, etc.

Eventually someone will add how vets run too many unnecessary tests and seem to be all about the money. This generally leads to talk about price gouging on medications and extreme prices at emergency clinics and how cold and callous they are to 'let a pet die' instead of helping them out.

I have darn good reason to distrust vets, I have seen too much, learned too much, and had too much happen.  I am currently very bitter about the whole thing, but even with all of that, I still want you to know that it is VITAL that not only you have a good vet, but you have a good relationship with one.

The only way to have a good relationship with a vet is to be a good customer.  Visit them regularly, and understand that they want you to be happy with them and their service. The more you partake of their services the more likely they are to go out of their way when something happens. A client that visits regularly that they have a history of dealing with is going to have more leeway in paying a bill than someone who just walks through the door the first time. And the more often the vet sees your pet, the more s/he will know about your pet and will be better able to diagnose what might be going on.


The only unnecessary test is the one that will not make a bit of difference in the change of treatment. If you walk into a vet's office to remove a tick and they want to take an x-ray, that is unnecessary. If you walk into the vet's office because the cat is urinating outside of the box an x-ray might seem unnecessary, but your cat might have stones that makes it uncomfortable to urinate. Blood work might also seem unnecessary, but it can be necessary to see if there is an issue with the kidneys or liver. If money is an issue, ask the vet what the test is going to determine, and what the change in the treatment would be if you do it. Tell the vet that money is a concern, and they can often work with you, as long as you are willing to work with them.  If you walk in the door saying your pet simply isn't doing well and you refuse blood work and x-rays, there isn't much they are going to be able to do.


People often complain about the nearly prohibitive costs of emergency clinics. They forget everything that is necessary to keep them open. Very few people want to work over night and holidays. The only way to ensure you have enough staff to man an emergency clinic to be open during all of those times when your vet is not open is to pay them well. You need to have an incentive. Then there is the cost of the building, the lights, the x-ray machine, the blood work machine, all of the medications that are necessary to have on hand, all of the instruments and accouterments to run a surgical suite. The cages, the food, the bedding, the laundry facilities, etc and finally add in the fact that you do not have regular clients and have to rely on those emergencies for all of your income.

Yes, it can be so very hard on the pet parent when they walk through the door with a sick or injured animal and they are refused service due to the inability to pay. Every time I hear a story about the heartlessness of the e-clinics in these situations, I know full well why they are this way. Too many times vets try to help, and are burned for it. They absolutely can not afford to treat every animal where the person 'cannot' pay (and how many people say they cannot pay but end up finding a way - they were just hoping for a lower bill) and if they gave in and treated an animal for each owner that couldn't, they would soon be out of business and the rest of us would be with out help when we needed help.

So show your vet some love. You don't have to agree with everything they say or do, you do employ them and if you don't like the way treatment is going it is your right to stand up for your pet and yourself, but if you find a vet you can work with, be glad, and remember with each bill you pay you ensure they will remain in business and will be there the next time you need them.

Blog the Change

22 comments:

  1. I have to agree...We paid quite a bit to determine what was up with The Baby, and each procedure narrowed the playing field. We COULD have gone straight to steroids...but, in the back of our minds we'd always worry that perhaps we weren't doing the best thing.

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  2. I just lost Nico to possible HCM, and now I'm heartbroken. His vets (his vets were in Panama City, FL) were very kind and offered a lot of help. However last year when he went to the vet for a UTI, and shots, his vet in Dothan, AL was so rude and gave him unnecessary shots like the feline leukemia shot which Ragdolls are NOT suppose to have, as its been known to be a cat killer, and yes, I told them NOT to give him one.

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  3. My human has probably spent enough money on me to buy a car... or at least put a decent down payment on a really nice one! And I hate going to the vet too. But I get dragged there way more often than I would like (of course, never would be more than enough for me!). Boodie and Binga get regular check-ups because they don't have anywhere near as many issues as I do. But anyway, the point is we don't scrimp on the vet around here.

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  4. Thats why I have the vet I have now their prices are good,and they will do what they can to make the treatment more affordable,and they care about you as well as your pet,xx Rachel

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  5. Such a great post... I've worked with probably a dozen different vets, some more than others and they are really all different. Some were not so great and some were wonderful. At the last clinic where I worked, it was policy that doctors create estimates for clients that included the "cadillac" treatment. Meaning any tests or treatments that could benefit the patient should be included. I really had issues with this hospital's management... but that's a whole other story. I really loved my part of the job because I had to help people who couldn't afford all that crap decide what they REALLY needed the most in order to help their pets. Going over a big estimate with someone is tough, but it felt good when I was able to help them sort it all out and help them a little bit.

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  6. I could have renovated my bathroom and tiny kitchen for the amount of money I've spent on vet bills in the past handful of years; it's into five digits...no decimal point.

    I don't have a problem having tests done -- my problem is that no matter what clinic I go to, I don't fully trust ANY vet and I'm a worrier, am paranoid, so I drive everyone crazy. I'm trying NOT to do that, but when something happens (like Nicki getting sick in the winter, his asthma/allergies, etc.) I panic.

    I do have a problem with the 300% increase in vet costs over the past decade (according to a CBC report/documentary last year, I believe).

    Trust me, my income has NOT gone up 300%. We're lucky if we get 1% or so a year...and some years not even that...so I do have an issue with the cost of vet care not being affordable for the masses.

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  7. well said - it is about creating a relationship....we love our own vet (OK - mom does, we really could take her or leave her) and the rescue vets as well. it is nice to know that they will work with mom regarding time and appointments - and even the occasionaly "emergency" :)

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  8. Great post! I'm so fortunate to have two vets that work in partnership and realize that people have budgets and money problems and understand how expensive things can get. They don't pad or inflate anything and always try to do the most cost-effective treatments FIRST, before moving onto things that are more expensive. They are up front with me, I can ask them anything and I just can't stress too strongly how GOOD I feel at having two such trusted partners in my cats' health care decisions - and the staff too is just as wonderful!

    MomKatt Laura & Selina

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  9. Great post! I am fortunate in that I have a vet that I love. He is a bit on the pricey side compared to other vets I have been to, but the care my cats receive makes it all worth it. He remains on-call for emergencies too, so if an emergency ever does arise, we can see him instead of going to an emergency clinic.

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  10. This is a very good post. We have been going to the same vet for a whole lot of years. He is very good to give us discounts and work with us especially when we take in a stray. He told me what has been hurting his business is people ordering medications, flea treatments and such online. We always buy from him even though we could save money elsewhere. He has been good to us and we want him to stay in business. Hugs and nose kisses

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  11. Good post - I agree that vets are sometimes taken advantage of and not given the proper respect. We appreciate every second the vet gives us and our pets.

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  12. This is a great post. Good relationship is important. I like our current vet even though I don't always agree with her. Once before, I asked about certain treatment but she pointed out that was not the best option even though it was more expensive. She is very helpful and I feel so grateful.

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  13. We agree! Great post... we are very lucky to have found a vet we adore. Ok... so I probably love her more than my cats do, but you get the message. It has made all the difference.
    GG

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  14. what a well crafted post, very informative. haven't had much experience with vets yet, but the limited one we have was very positive. and to think we just picked out the vets name online.

    emma and buster

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  15. Well said! As someone who has spent a good chunk of change at the vet the last couple years, I know it's not cheap, but having a pet is like having a child. Would you *not* take your sick child to the doctor (depending on symptoms, etc.)? Would you *not* have certain tests done, depending on symptoms, etc.? And it's so important to build a relationship and ask the right questions. You are your pets advocate! Great info. :)

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  16. We have a good relationship with our vet, though the mom doesn't always agree with her. But at least our vet is willing to listen to the mom and respects her decision. And usually it's the mom insisting on running tests that the vet doesn't always recommend. Well, she recommends them, but gives options, which the mom appreciates. Having a good vet is very important.

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  17. We have great Vets and a great emergency and specialty places here, and you are so right. They work with us because we choose to work with them.

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  18. Finding a vet you trust and have good communication with is so very important! It's a partnership, and communication and follow-through is a two-way street.

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  19. ABSOLUTELY AWESOME POST!!! I could not agree more with all that you said. We have a fantastic relationship with our vet because both sides have done all they can to be all the other needs. The vet knows we take excellent care of our pets and will always follow "doctor's orders". We ALWAYS pay our bills. We've come on hard times before, and had to make payments, but because we always paid our bills and were 100% honorable, they have worked with us time and time again, because they know us well. We just had a life threatening emergency with our senior Pomeranian going into liver failure Monday night, and the vet stayed after midnight to help save Peanut's life. Peanut was then in ICU there for 6 days. They did everything they could to save her, which they did. We now have a $1500 bill and will have to make payments, but they trust we will make our payments so there's not a problem.
    I could go on and on, but you said it perfectly. THANK YOU for this important post on the BtC4A event today. Hope you'll come by and read our post when you get a chance.
    Your friends,
    Pixel Blue Eyes & Mom Jenny Lewis
    http://www.notailleftbehind.com/2014/07/truth-of-harmful-tail-docking-hurts.html

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  20. This is a very discerning and fair post. My daughter is a vet tech. I can tell you that the staff at her vet clinic are not there for the money. That said, it is a business. Good point about having a history with your vet. Our vet took a lot of time explaining all of the potential treatments and costs when our dog had lymphoma. She was nonjudgemental in helping us decide what we could afford. One more story, from my daughter - a couple (never seen there before) brought in a severely injured dog, made a small down payment on the surgery, then never returned - abandoned the dog to avoid paying the bill. These are the incidents that can make vets seem hardhearted and "all about the money".

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  21. We agree completely. Relationship is everything. Communication, too. We even have insurance on our three - and BTW, I did the math after Ryker passed (he had insurance too) and I actually came out slightly ahead with insurance than without. I know it's not for everyone, and I have the feeling that it'll go that direction with Maxie but not with Allie, etc. But for us, the peace of mind is worth it. It removes all potential debate when emergency vet visits are a concern. Like when Maxie falls off a fireplace mantel.

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  22. Good advice. We are very lucky to have a great vet walk in clinic that we go to. If they want to take tests they explain why including the pros and cons. There have been times when they have mentioned a test they could do but suggested it may not be worth the expense to do at that time and maybe wait. There are some vets within the practice that I do not like as well as others. They are capable but not as good at explaining things so I just ask for a different vet.

    ER vets are expensive, but boy it is nice to have them in an emergency. We have had to use them and it was not cheap but they saved our dog.

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