But Doc, the Dog's Already Dead!

Talk about diets, exercise, and disease.
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BlueMountainBullies
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Postby BlueMountainBullies » Mon Jun 08, 2009 6:58 pm

I'm in vet tech school, and I volunteer for a vet hospital as part of my schooling. The vet generally DOUBLES the price of ALL costs. If a lab fee costs $100 he charges the client $200.

And shots lol I buy shots in bulk and they cost me just a little over $2 a piece which includes overnight shipping and ice packs. The vet orders them from the EXACT same place. They are the SAME shots. And he charges $15-$18 a pop.

My point is, vets are making HUGE money off of their clients. What makes a good vet from a bad one, are whether they have your and your pets best interest in mind or their own

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Postby Sarah » Mon Jun 08, 2009 7:35 pm

BlueMountainBullies wrote:My point is, vets are making HUGE money off of their clients. What makes a good vet from a bad one, are whether they have your and your pets best interest in mind or their own


Vets are not necessarily making huge money off their clients. Remember that a vet has substantial overhead they have to cover. Yes, some vets make a good living, but considering the cost of education to become a vet, it is not excessive. In general, becoming a vet is not a way to get rich.

Most of the vets I've had dealings with do not try to pressure clients into doing excessive treatments. In fact, I've had more treatments done because I pushed for them than because the vet did. Example: when I first took Tully to the vet for her incontinence, the vet did a urinalysis (perfectly reasonable), then suggested we should try the Proin, since it's well tolerated, and if it worked, that would prove this to be just simple incontinence. I was the one who asked for a blood panel to be done, the vet was not unwilling, but only did it because I wanted it (I think she may have mentioned it, but wasn't pushing for it at all). I felt that it made good sense on a 6 year old dog to go ahead and get a baseline on her bloodwork, if nothing else. The vet chose (and got my permission) for a blood panel to be done with a certain kind of obscure test (can't remember what it was), because the lab was offering a special on this particular panel, and it would be cheaper than running a panel without the (unnecessary) test.

Most of the vets I've encountered do think about their clients pocketbooks that way. If a vet is really trying to pressure you into unnecessary care, then you should look for another vet, but most I've met do not.

In the tacked on case of the parvo pup in the original post, what the vet offered was reasonable and sane. In most cases, if you catch parvo fairly early, the pup can be saved. Standard treatment is supportive; isolation to protect other animals, IV fluids, possibly antibiotic treatment to prevent secondary infections, etc. $800 is not an unreasonable charge for that. Often, those same pups can be treated at home with subcutaneous fluids and pull through, but the odds are increased with the veterinary treatment. I would absolutely choose to spend that money if it were my pup, knowing the odds of recovery are fairly high, and there will be no lasting effects. I definitely would if I had a litter of puppies at home, rather than risk bringing that virus into their environment. But if I had just the one sick pup, and couldn't afford the hospitalization, I'd try the home treatment, since the pup does have a reasonable chance of survival.

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Postby Amie » Mon Jun 08, 2009 7:39 pm

BlueMountainBullies wrote:I'm in vet tech school, and I volunteer for a vet hospital as part of my schooling. The vet generally DOUBLES the price of ALL costs. If a lab fee costs $100 he charges the client $200.


So do most retail stores. That's a pretty standard mark-up. And, as Sarah said, it probably doesn't lead to huge profits, unless the vet isn't paying for the office space, utilities, salaries, employee benefits/fees, insurance, etc.

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Postby mtlu » Mon Jun 08, 2009 7:41 pm

Most of the vets in my area are pretty similar in pricing (i.e. high :po: ) so my choices center around whether or not I trust a particular vet or not and how competent/nice everyone is.

I'm quite sure there are vets are out there who price gouge like the one avian vet we visited once in SF that gave a nearly $1K estimate to hold a just-fledged baby lovebird overnight for observation (in an incubator w/IV drip) and gave all sorts of doom and gloom facial expressions that the bird would likely die if we didn't admit her. We bought the antibiotics (@$150 including the consult fee) and took the baby bird home and did our own "hospital box" and she's now 2 years old. In that situation, the vet could not tell us for sure what was wrong (and I doubt few people can with animals that are that small and juvenile) and however cold it may sound, we couldn't justify putting nearly a grand into one baby lovebird.

However, I also take into consideration that everything costs more here: rent is higher, minimum wage is higher, utilities and garbage disposal are pretty expensive, malpractice insurance etc etc – I'm sure there are many other overhead costs I am forgetting. The cost of those things have to get passed onto the clients as well or else there would be no way for them to be able to stay open as a business. The cost of the vaccines and pharmaceuticals may be minimal or reasonable but I don't begrudge being charged money by a clinic/practice that I trust and that my dog has always received excellent care from. Oddly enough, my favorite vet we have brought the dog and the birds to is the e-vet – this one doctor is seriously the best.

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Postby tiva » Mon Jun 08, 2009 8:01 pm

Vets have the lowest salaries of any professional in America! They aren't overpaid at all. In Wisconsin, the average salary of a small-animal vet is only $55,000, and they work on average more than 50 hours a week. Most of the charges go to paying overhead, insurance, staff salaries, etc--not to paying themselves. Compared to physicians, they make very little. I don't begrudge them a dime of what they earn--they go to university for nearly a decade, then work long hours, and make less than a mid-level manager at Best Buy.

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Postby BlueMountainBullies » Mon Jun 08, 2009 8:37 pm

I guess I worded it wrong. Of course they have over head that they have to pay for. And what I meant in my whole post was my last paragraph. What makes a good vet from a bad vet are those vets which give you all your options, and the costs involved, versus those vets that give you only the most expensive option first and then work down from there. The vet I go to, and the vet I volunteer for is one of the best as far as making sure the client completely knows the situation and completely understands all treatment options as well as costs involved and payment plans etc. I went to a vet closer to me one time (I live a half hour away from my vet) because one of my dogs had a small growth on her lip and his only option was surgery because it's probably cancerous blah blah blah. Well he scared me so I did the surgery and biopsy and it was only fatty tissue. $500 later, I realized that there is no reason to not go to my normal vet unless there is a life or death emergency that I couldn't make the 30 minute drive. His prices are lower, his bedside manner is better, and he cares more for his clients and the animals over himself. That is what I consider a 'good' vet. He is the same one who spayed, did a dental, drained an abcess and removed two teeth on a female of mine for just over $400 while anothe vet quoted me over $700. :thumbsup:

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Re: But Doc, the Dog's Already Dead!

Postby Sailboat » Tue Jun 09, 2009 5:22 pm

Berserkershootfighter wrote:
Sailboat wrote:I guess I don't understand this part.

Berserkershootfighter wrote:Case in point,,,many years back a pup was brought into my Kennel and she was in early stages of Parvo as I later learned. I took the pup to the Vet,,,as I suspected the pup had parvo and that it would cost 800.+ dollars to "cure" this pup. I said no, just put the pup down and I would pay for that. They were appalled with my suggestion, I said I don't have that kind of money and the dogs not mine anyway. They tried and tried to get me to sign a payment agreement but I held my ground. I left there with the intention of putting the pup down myself but the owner started crying so hyterically,,well I didn't do. Against better judgement I brought the pup back home and isolated her, I started SQ fluids and I forced pedialyte and amoxicillin down the pups throat. Well, guess what,,,3 days later the pup was back to normal.


So the author doesn't own a puppy but tells the vet to put the puppy down over the objections of the owner? Then decides to do it herself over the objections of the owner? The relents, treats the pup, and discovers that the pup is all better in 3 days -- and uses this as an example of how the author is a better judge of dog illness than the vet, despite the apparent fact that the author was completely wrong?

Yeah, it's making me think.

No I don't feel the author was wrong at all, She states against her better judgment she brought the pup back home , She states she had a litter on the ground. Parvo is unbelievably contagious, and deadly! she risked the lives of the other litter to save one, I'll say again ONE pup! She got extremely lucky and so did the pup, parvo has a high mortality rate! pretty much if a pup gets parvo its the beginning of the end, It cant be cured it has to run its coarse! Even with the vet doing God only knows for 800$ the pups chance is still slim to none! If you've ever experienced parvo and witnessed the suffering that go's along with it, I dont think you would be thinking like you do at the present time!
Also the author knew before she went to the vet that the pup had parvo all the vet did was confirm it and try to make 800$ off a sick and dying pup. In my opinion she was right on the money with the diagnosis(judgement) and treatment of the pup! The vet wouldn't have done any better of a job!


Well, she was wrong that the pup was certainly going to die. And if I read the article right, the pup had ALREADY come into her kennel before she knew it had parvo ("as I later learned," she says) , so there wasn't any decision to risk the other pups to save one, the contamination had already occurred. Meanwhile I still don't unerstand how the kennel owner gets to make the decision to put someone else's dog down over their objection. She sounds like someone with issues.

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Postby Beowulf » Tue Jun 09, 2009 6:12 pm

tiva wrote:Vets have the lowest salaries of any professional in America! They aren't overpaid at all. In Wisconsin, the average salary of a small-animal vet is only $55,000, and they work on average more than 50 hours a week. Most of the charges go to paying overhead, insurance, staff salaries, etc--not to paying themselves. Compared to physicians, they make very little. I don't begrudge them a dime of what they earn--they go to university for nearly a decade, then work long hours, and make less than a mid-level manager at Best Buy.


:goodpost:

My vet works about 100 hours a week. I don't even know when he sleeps.

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Postby Sanddi » Thu Jun 11, 2009 1:19 pm

I work at a small vet clinic.
The one vet at the clinic always tells us, he's not in it just for the money...
Of course, there's some to be made, but that's not why he chose to enter this career.
He was a teacher for many years before deciding to throw that all away to take care of animals.

Since he has been in this practice for a number of years now, he has decided just to concentrate on dogs and cats.

Yes, we do double the price on everything, but how else are we supposed to keep a business up and going?
That's like saying you want McDonald's to still charge you five cents for their cheeseburger.

Just yesterday, a client brought in a dog to be groomed. This dog gets groomed often and we have to use sedation.
For some reason, she wasn't coming back out of it very well.
We put her on oxygen and a heating pad (remember, we're a small clinic).
Her temperature was coming back up and she was looking like she was improving... then she just went downhill.
I would also like to add that she had CHF and she wasn't on the medication that our vet thought she should be on. Her lungs were just filled with liquid.
The client's daughter used to work for our clinic some years ago before moving on to a larger clinic.

Even though what happened was not in our control (I guess we could of run the risk of not sedating her and stressing her out way more than she already was) the clients were very understanding.
We sent her off to get cremated yesterday.
Guess what they paid?

Nothing.

Some vets have hearts. :D

I do understand that there are many out there that are 'cons' but you just can't label all of them as bad. Stupid apples. lol

Human healthcare is another subject that I won't get into on this forum. Annnnd let's just leave it at that. :D

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Postby Brina Blue » Mon Jun 15, 2009 8:38 pm

I find it odd that no one has commented on this little gem:

Busby also rails against the useless procedures foisted on healthy animals. Take yearly vaccinations. He writes, "[A]lmost all veterinarians insist on repeating these vaccinations over and over again throughout the life of the pet. Never forget how often they need to be given to you or your kids. ONCE!!!" Busby says that after the essential shots and boosters for puppies and kittens are completed, pets enjoy the same lifelong immunity humans do. (Legal requirements force more frequent rabies shots.) He points out unnecessary treatments are not necessarily benign because the treatments themselves can cause side effects. I know. My wonderful cat Shlomo died at age 16 because I followed the yearly vaccination recommendations. A component of the feline leukemia vaccine caused an injection-site cancer. (For a thorough discussion of the problem with pet overvaccination, see Index.)


Are we indeed overvaccinating our dogs? Is the annual checkup/shots an unecessary procedure?

Sort of reminds me about something I read in the AKC book on Pit Bulls. It said that it was unecessary to give heartworm treatment every month, because the pesticide kills all stages of heartworms and it takes 4 months for heartworms to get to the adult stage...so it recommended doing it every 2-3 months to minimize the "poison" in the dogs body.

Can someone who works in a vet's office clear this up for me?

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Postby Misskiwi67 » Mon Jun 15, 2009 10:08 pm

My dentist gets paid more than I do... but we have equivalent schooling and equivalent student loan payments.

Please, tell me again why I'm a money-mongering un-ethical human being when I ASK you what you want to do for YOUR pet??

Offering the best should not be considered bad practice... it should be considered bad practice to do anything less. Its up to you to decide what you are and aren't willing to pay for your pets health.

I apologize if this is off-topic for page 2... I couldn't even finish reading.

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Sarah
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Postby Sarah » Tue Jun 16, 2009 9:27 am

Brina Blue wrote:Sort of reminds me about something I read in the AKC book on Pit Bulls. It said that it was unecessary to give heartworm treatment every month, because the pesticide kills all stages of heartworms and it takes 4 months for heartworms to get to the adult stage...so it recommended doing it every 2-3 months to minimize the "poison" in the dogs body.


The actual interval needed for the HW medication is 6 weeks, but the manufacturers recommend monthly, because it's difficult for people to remember 6 weeks. I can attest this is true, I was trying to do 6 week intervals, and I kept forgetting. (I'm not giving HW medication at all right now, but if I was, I'd go to monthly, so I could remember it. That way, when I suddenly remembered that my dogs should have had their HW dosage a week previous, it wouldn't be a big deal.)

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Postby Brina Blue » Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:55 pm

And then what about the over-vaccination theory? The one that states that a dog's immune system is lifetime and that they (like us) only need the shots once.

Can anyone confirm this? I know plenty of people who never vaccinate after the first year, and all their dogs are fine.

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Sarah
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Postby Sarah » Tue Jun 16, 2009 6:19 pm

Brina Blue wrote:And then what about the over-vaccination theory? The one that states that a dog's immune system is lifetime and that they (like us) only need the shots once.

Can anyone confirm this? I know plenty of people who never vaccinate after the first year, and all their dogs are fine.


There's no proof either way. People have to make their own choices. I choose to vaccinate every 3 years (my vet backs this up). Other people choose not to vaccinate after the initial series. None of us have science on our side, the vaccines are only proven to work for 3 years, no way to tell if they are good after that without further studies.

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Postby moochesmama » Tue Jun 16, 2009 6:56 pm

The article is thought provoking... I think there are pressures on vets, culturally, from a certain clientele, and also financially to 'overrprovide' service. I've noticed a difference in newer practices vs. older 'old school' practices. They both have their benefits. My dogs currently go to a practice that is largely small animal with younger, recently graduated vets. They have great up to date treatment, great bedside manner (they are very personable), and are very 'pet centered'. The drawback is that they seem to want to examine, test, vaccinate, and wellness examine to the extreme.

I have a dog (Puny) who has spay incontinence which is intermittent. Otherwise she is VERY healthy. Since it is intermittent, I only fill her Propalin prescription about two or three times a year. To get her Propalin prescription filled, I ALWAYS need to bring her in for an exam and urinalysis costing ~ $60-70. I know there must be a 'best practice' involved here, but it's a PITA. Plus they won't give me more than 60 tablets at a time.

When we lived in a smaller town, I of course took both dogs in for vacs (since we board periodically) and exams, but the vet (who had a much more mixed practice) pretty much just gave me the Propalin prescription based on our old, transferred charts. AND let me get more tablets. AND charged a lot less per visit. Of course her clinic wasn't as shiny and modern and her overhead wasn't as high. She also had a clientele who was much lower SES (which shouldn't affect costs but seems to). I also think that vets in mixed practices are much more pragmatic and less anthropomorphizing.


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