? about vet charges

haldNovember 6, 2012

I took my 19 year old Westie to a vet today to get a biopsy and labs about a skin problem he is having. I am astonished by some of the charges, though I know it's common for medical stuff to be extremely expensive.

My question is about one of the forms I had to sign. Basically, it was an agreement that if my dog needs CPR the charges will be between $300 and $500 just for the CPR (in addition to all the other charges). Is this really a "standard" charge now days? It seems outlandish.

Thanks in advance...I pick up my dog later today...

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annzgw

If he needs emergency care due to a reaction to anesthesia, drugs, etc., I don't see that as being too expensive.
I've never had exact amounts quoted as to what the cost may be if my pet crashed, but I have had to sign a form agreeing to cover costs for extra/emergency treatment.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 5:25PM
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Ninapearl

wow! in all of my years with pets, i have never had to sign anything related to cpr. i've signed surgery consent forms several times and i always read them carefully. i'd remember if i saw something like that.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 6:11PM
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hald

I don't recall ever signing such a form in the past. The wording and what the vet person said felt insulting because she was clear that I had to agree or if my dog had a problem they would let him die. Also, the form was clear that the charge was just for cpr, not anything related to cpr, like oxygen or fluids. I'm upset/sensitive because yesterday their estimate of charges was $200 to $300 and today the bill was over $1200 (nothing went wrong...it's just what they claimed it cost today).
Thanks for the responses. This year I'm learning I'll probably never adopt another dog because the vet charges are too high. So far since January when this started the charges are over $4000 and my dog still isn't well and the vets still don't know what's wrong. It feels like flushing money down the toilet. (My dog got a tick bite in January and a skin infection that won't go away. Various antibiotics haven't worked. In the meantime I caught whatever my dog has and my Doctor prescribed Albenza, which has cured me. Today my dog was getting a biopsy to be cultured (finally after practically begging all these months) to determine what he's got. It feels like intentional gouging, too.
Thanks again.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 12:45AM
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jomuir

We had a vet we used to see faithfully for years, he was in a chain of animal hospitals. When we got Roxie from rescue she needed to be tested for thyroid levels (Shelties often have thyroid problems & she was exhibiting signs of it) the vet balked, then said the bloodwork alone would be $300+. And that the idea of thyroid disease was basically hooey.

We got a recommendation for another local (independent) vet. The bloodwork was I know it's a business like anything else but it seems some places are pricing us out of pet ownership. I know a lot of folks who would like a pet (or a second pet) but hold off due to the high cost of vet. treatment.
Can you ask around for more reasonable vets in your area? Does your local humane society have any discounts available? We used to go to the humane society & it saved us a lot on vet bills.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 9:30AM
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annzgw

Holy Cow.....They estimated $200-300 and charged you $1200! No calls during the procedure asking if you agreed to the extra charges?
My previous answer was assuming CPR included everything it'd take to save a pet that's crashing......not just CPR......what a ripoff!

I'd definitely ask for all the details of the extra charges and hold them to their estimate. Then, I'd never return.
You need to find another vet but I'd concentrate on finding a veterinary dermatologist. You don't have to run all new test since all the previous test results can be transferred to the new vet.
You've spent too long and too much to not have any answers yet.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 12:06PM
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hald

The local vets all seem to be using the same price list. After my last post I started thinking I should clarify I don't think the final price was unfair. My issue was how it was handled and went from the low estimate to the high final price. If I had been told how much the final price was I would have gone ahead and gotten the tests. The price seems very high ($1200 for a biopsy and culture), as my dog had surgery in January and the surgery bill was about the same as yesterday's bill.

Yesterday I talked with a couple friends about the cpr form and also called my (human) doctor's office. They all said they had never encountered such a thing. So I wondered if the cpr form was something new that is being used in other places.

My dog is so old that even I was astonished in January when I got out his adoption papers and confirmed his age. He's really very healthy and gets around fine and walks with me every day (though he gets tired and I have to pick him up). I don't think the vets believe it, even though I've taken the adoption papers with me to show them.

The local Humane Society does have vet services, but they are going through a major deal with our city and county over contracts for animal control and they have a bad reputation for how they treat people and animals. Basically the SPCA had a hissy fit and won't open their meetings to the public even though they get several million $ a year from the city and county. So the contracts have been cancelled and the SPCA is focusing on education and neuter\spay. I had weird experiences with the SPCA when I adopted my last dog from them, a little terrier mix. He had been neutered but still had the stitches and they had grown in. The SPCA vet wouldn't remove them. The vet I was seeing at the time wouldn't either saying it was the SPCA's responsibility. They were finally removed by a vet tech at SPCA who became as frustrated as me with the attitude of the SPCA vet. We sat in the SPCA waiting room and she removed the stitches while I held my dog in my lap. I'm very grateful to her.

The other thing that gets my goat is that the vets wouldn't do a biopsy culture of what my dog has. He's been on many different antibiotics and none of them has worked, partly because they wouldn't test to find out what we're dealing with. To me it seems like a no-brainer and I've been asking for the tests since January while racking up big vet bills. A lot of it seems like little more than a rent payer for the vets. It also upsets me the vets wouldn't test because I got sick with a parasite too.

Thanks for letting me vent. My Westie is doing fine today and we (myself, and my 4 dogs) are shortly out the door for our daily walk.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 12:40PM
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airforceguy

I'm currently residing in Managua Nicaragua!! Maybe it is time for Nicaragua to get into the pet medical industry,lol

We are Fostering a dog that has Ehrlichiosis. Plus we have our own dog Anna!! An example how inexpensive vet care here is:
Took both dogs to the vet last week. Both had complete blood-work done. Anna had the SNAP test (was negative) Purchased Dermacream for sometime fungal going on with her tail! As well purchased 6 months of heartguard for Anna. 2 doses of frontline for a cat, and 1 dose of frontline for the Foster dog Mel. Oh yes the vet did an Ultrasound on Mels stomach--diagnosed a Pyometra(got spayed on Monday) all for 151!! He quoted me $40 to have anna teeth cleaned.

Only problem here great Vets are hard to find, and they can't handle too complex of problems

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 1:45PM
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jomuir

your experience at the humane society is why we quit going there too. It wasn't worth the hassle vs the money saved. Sad. I got pretty well beat up by them for TNR-ing our feral we took responsibility for. That was it for me, if they can't work professionally with the public on an animal issue that's very important/big problem in our area, I won't darken their door. Also, the vet I worked for years ago was quite against the local humane society, he really wouldn't elaborate but I knew if he was against them there had to be a good reason.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 4:13PM
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calliope

When I read posts like this, I want to fall down at my vets feet and kiss them. I've never been asked about CPR charges, nor given agreements pertaining to them, and I've had some of my pets in for delicate and also major surgeries far more risky than a skin biopsy. I do understand anesthesia regardless of why it's used is a risk in and of itself, so any potential use of it might involve the possibility of CPR.

My only guess is some animal required resuscitation, they did it and a client refused to pay and they are being proactive. When I have ever brought a pet in for any procedure or surgery, and signed those consent forms it may have been explained to me that the charges quoted may be exceeded if there are unexpected problems but that is a pretty logical conclusion for any client to arrive at. Of course there will be. But it wasn't made into a life or death discussion. An attempt to spare the animal will just be given. You agree to the surgery and the act and costs are just part of it. The only time I've had a discussion about whether to save a pet or not, is when an expensive procedure is recommended and the outcome or quality of life afterward is seen by the vet as not optimistic. That's a whole other issue. I'd assume some client before you refused to pay a bill larger than they expected. It would be more pallitable to have included a clause in your surgery consent form that stated they would do everything necessary to preserve your animal's life should an unexpected event occur requiring resuscitaion and you are responsible for any additional charges unless you request otherwise. It accomplishes the same result, yet establishes in their client's minds they really are all about the best interest's of your pet. And if you decide to not have them do CPR it's not their decision, but your's. The way it's stated is crude and unprofessional and yes, I'd be insulted too and carry around a picture in my mind of a surgeon asking their tech.......did we get the 500? No? Well pull the plug and order me a pizza. Honestly, this is simply a case of poor semantics and presentation and I'm surprised they don't have more business savy.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 1:07AM
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ms_minnamouse

Sorry you had to go through that. Talking about putting a price on a loved one's life.

I realize that yes, vets have to make a living too and pets aren't cheap but many seem to be trying to squeeze every last penny out of us that they can.

I wear my heart on my sleeve when it comes to my pets and they pick up on this. I have been from vet to vet to vet because I've run into so many who try to guilt me or scare me into unnecessary things. They play so many games, I'm sick of it.

I FINALLY found the right vet for my dogs. One who will actually tell me that I'm going over board or worrying too much, he'll tell me to take things one step at a time, he'll also tell me don't get your meds from X, get them from Y because it's significantly less expensive for the same thing, etc. It's nice to have found someone I can trust. I don't feel like people should be tricked or punished for trying to do right by their pets. It's encouraging people to not seek medical care. Yes, that is a part of pet care but being ripped off isn't.

I STILL haven't been able to find a good vet for my parrots. Brought one in for a minor crop infection that I caught in it's early stages. The vet asked if I wanted her hospitalized for this stupid little infection and if I wanted her put under sedation for some kind of extraction instead of just toweling her and swabbing the crop to culture!

Not only would those option have been very expensive, but it wouldn't have even been in the best interest of my bird!! Why in the world would I want to put her through these unnecessary and stressful procedures?? Especially when she already doesn't feel well?!!

A simple crop swab and culture and antibiotics was all it took to cure her.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 12:52AM
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hald

I got the culture results on my Westie. He had a staph infection at the site where he had surgery in January. Between burning his hair off with their Oster clippers, and now a confirmed staph infection on the incision site, I'll never go back to those ER vets...

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 12:36PM
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trancegemini_wa

I think it's definitely time to look around for another vet. $1200 for a skin biopsy seems pretty expensive to me, did they have to resuscitate your dog? How did they itemize the bill to explain those charges? Local to me there are lots of "chains" of vets now, that have bought out the local vet practices and there's two things I noticed about them, the vets are very young, and they charge a lot, but they're just employees and don't own these practices.

It's getting harder to find vets near me who are still running their own practices, but if you find one you get much better personal service and the prices are more what you would expect to pay because they do care if you come back or not. I would ask around with other dog owners you come across and see if you can get a recommendation to a better vet. You'll also find that emergency vets do charge more as well, there are two near me and I'll only use them if my regular vet is closed because they are expensive and you really don't need an emergency vet for most things, although in a real emergency they are good because they do have the equipment to deal with things that a regular vet doesn't.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 9:53PM
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calliope

Four thousand dollars over the course of time to diagnose a skin infection? My last schnauzer had a seemingly intractable skin infection, but my vet was an excellent diagnostitian and I belive the total bill for his work-up and treatment was more like two hundred to three hundred. No biopsy was needed, the vet nailed it and cured it on the third course of treatment. My daughter has had skin biopsies on one of her dogs. Again, talking low hundreds, not thousands. No wonder you are recoiling.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 10:55PM
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betsyhac

Shop around. I travel a ways now (45 min to 1 hour), past many other vet offices to get to my vet, but he's an excellent vet that isn't into gouging vulnerable pet owners. I've also been to every emergency vet in the area, and have finally found one with fair prices and excellent care. I suggest that you check with some local rescue organizations for recommendations as to a reputable vet.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 9:01AM
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calliope

I don't think we can assume the OPs vet is gouging, or not reputable. In human care as well at vet medicine there will always be the cases where a diagnosis wasn't immediately evident, and it's human nature to start out with the most conservative treatment and advance if it doesn't produce results. However, that can end up being the most expensive option at the end of the day, just in an effort to keep a client's costs down. My vets, when in doubt, will often offer us choices............like we can do X-rays now (lab tests/treatments) now, or try this and see how it goes. There have been times I've opted, or even insisted that they go the route right at the get-go. But we can't assume the OP didn't have some input into the course of the dog's treatment. That being said, the ball is indeed in the owner's court to find a practise they are comfortable with, with doctors they trust and can build a relationship with. And when costs are a consideration, that includes the cost of basic care, and I'd consider a skin biopsy pretty darn basic care. The vets in our area are very territorial with their clients. If another practise has a piece of equipment or carries a medication they don't have, they will NOT cooperate with each other for the benefit of the client, evidently afraid of losing their customer base. That's why I was so very careful in finding just the right local vet, because if there is something they can't do, you'll end up being at the nearest ER vet, and that would mean an hour and a half trip from this rural area.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 7:07PM
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hald

I'm not sure what "op" means. I just want to restate that I repeatedly asked for a biopsy\culture since January and all the vets I saw would not do it. The second vet I saw basically told me to take my Westie home and wait for him to die. The last vet insisted on worming and vaccinating (my dog was up to date; no sign of parasites), and did nothing for the skin infection. They're either gouging or they don't know what they're doing. They all lectured me on what a "genetic wasteland" pure breed dogs are,even though my dog is 19 years old and healthy except for the infection. Their refusal to do a biopsy\culture was just "CYA'ing" for their friends\colleagues. It was just a rent payer for them. $300 to $500 for basic cpr was outrageous (no, my dog did not need cpr, but I had to agree to pay for it just in case he needed it). It makes me very angry and I'll never go back to any of them.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 11:54AM
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calliope

I don't blame you. OP means original poster. If that's the gut feeling you got, then it's probably valid, or if not it doesn't make any difference at the end of the day, you weren't satisfied with their performance. Like I said, I had a similar situation and my cost for the same situation was a couple hundred dollars and my dog was older like your's. I didn't get any lectures about breeds, just a good diagnoses from a vet I trust. You deserve the same and hope your little fellow gets well quickly.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 6:50PM
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mountain_lady

wow, looks to me that your vets office is making a mint of you. There is this Stuff called "vetericyn" Its for wound and Infection treatment. You can pick this up at any local feed store. Treatment can be use for just about anything . I have used it to treat my dogs eye. We did 4 months of to and from the vets with this med and that med to have no luck clearing the problem. To me getting this stuff that only close 27.00 buck and treating my dog for 2 weeks and wow he has clear eyes there are no clouds, and I also used it for the bumps he had on his back. no more bumps and healthly 15 yr old dog. I have used it on a cat that got into a cat fight and was beat up badly. No vet cost there. You can also get your shots from the feed store. save yourself some money. Your vets office is taking your money for what?

6 mos ago my sister took her family friend into the vet. they told her that he had eatten a rock and that is why he wasnt eatting . O boy they where wrong. once inside the dog they found that he was full of cancer. there was No rock in his tummy. they put the dog down and it cost my sister 900 bucks. all cuz they had cut him open. I feel that big city vet's are making a mint off people and you can fight back and treat your pet yourself. you just have to get informed . JS

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 7:24PM
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LizRVT

Dunno if anyone is still reading this thread but thought I'd explain the CPR stuff. Not too many years ago, most vets knew their clients personally and billed them for services. Now, vets have too many clients to know them all and many have stopped billing because they can have tens of thousands of dollars waiting to be paid. That's too much for small businesses. So, they're having to put out itemized estimates so the client can see each thing that is being done.
When a pet is going to go under anesthesia, there is always a risk for cardiac arrest. The vet can not and should not waste time calling you to see what you'd like them to do if that happens. They need to know BEFORE it happens so if it does, they waste no time acting on the situation.
Now, you ask why would a vet need to ask? Shouldn't they just perform CPR? No. Some pets have pre-existing conditions and the owners choose a DNR (do not resesitate). Then you ask why they would put a price? Well, vets have learned over the years that many clients will say, "do whatever is necessary, money is no object" then promptly say they only have $100 after there dog have received over $1000 in treatment to save it after a horrible hit by car accident. Because of this, they feel they should tell the client what the CPR may charge. CPR can get expensive, fast, depending on whether the pet is responding. Again, they'd much prefer NOT to bring money into your decision but that's the sad reality were living in.
This is how I word it, "I am so sorry to have to ask you this, but in the event of cardiac arrest, would like us to perform CPR or would you like to make your pet a DNR? If we start CPR, we will get someone on the phone with you to inform you what is going on and whether your pet is responding. You can then make the decision to continue CPR or let your pet go." However, if the pet is going under for a routine procedure, I add, "Since your pet has no preexisting conditions we know of, the cardiac arrest would most-likely be anesthesia related and we'd need to get the anesthesia out of his system quickly. So, I'd say, if he were mine, I'd perform CPR. There are no guarantees, anesthesia is always a risk."

Hopes this helps.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 2:04AM
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