Q: Pet care was never this expensive! I can’t believe how much I spend at the vet’s compared to what I used to. Why is it that all veterinarians seem to cost so much more than ever before?
A: It’s an easy question but the answer is multifaceted and complex. Luckily, I can break this down into a few reasons. So why is vet care more expensive?
▪ Because you’re willing to pay more.
Pets are family — which means we’re willing to pay more for all kinds of things they need. The disposable income we once reserved for children, travel, dining and other luxuries is increasingly being shifted toward pet nutrition and healthcare.
▪ You expect more from us.
Some of us remember what veterinary care was like in the 1970s and 1980s. It was way more affordable, to be sure, but basic things like effective parasite prevention, routine pain relief, credentialed veterinary technicians and working therapeutic diets were either unavailable or unimaginable. Specialists were almost unthinkable outside of veterinary school settings.
Since then, the practice of veterinary medicine has rapidly evolved. Fleas and ticks are 99 percent controllable, chronic pain is considered highly manageable, veterinary technicians can make up to six figures, therapeutic diets are highly effective. Specialists? They’re plentiful in every major metropolitan area and available even in many far-flung bedroom communities.
All this? It’s there because you’ve told us you want it. So we supplied it. Now you’ve come to expect it. And all that costs more, which isn’t all bad, of course. After all, pets now live 20 percent longer (or more) than ever before.
▪ Drugs cost more.
It’s not your imagination. All those pet meds do cost way more than they used to. The upside is that they’re available for a wider variety of problems and they’re undeniably more effective.
▪ More regulations.
Those of us who adore our pets are experiencing some of the side effects of wanting to keep them safer. This is a recipe for greater regulation, which equals greater expense. This is especially problematic when it comes to building and maintaining veterinary practices and utilizing state of the art medical equipment. Our regulations are beginning to equal our human medical counterparts.
There are a few more issues that may be at work, such as veterinarian shortages and professional liability concerns (leading to more aggressive testing and treatment) but overall the above four are the biggest. I know they don’t all sound fair but that’s today’s reality for you.
Dr. Patty Khuly has a veterinary practice at Sunset Animal Clinic in South Miami. Her website is drpattykhuly.com. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.