Why does my Veterinarian cost so much?


This common question is one that I get asked by my clients on a weekly basis. First off, please know that veterinarians are not in it for the money. This is a common misconception and is detrimental to the mental health and wellbeing of veterinary professionals, and it is simply just not true. Your veterinarian has trained for the last 8+ years to become a doctor, and veterinary school is even more competitive than human medical school. The cost of medical and veterinary school is equal, but the average salary for veterinarians is less than half of what medical doctors make. As veterinarians, we love and devote our entire lives to work with and save animals, but we also start off with insurmountable debt and extremely low salaries.

So why does veterinary care cost so much? Let’s look at the top 4 reasons…



Vets Can’t Afford Not to Charge You

A veterinarian today has an average student loan debt of 200k-400k, with the debt to income ratio being extremely high. A veterinary hospital costs a lot of money to maintain. Equipment and supplies are expensive and come from the same companies human hospitals use (which means they come with the same price tag). In order for a veterinarian to have a successful practice, pay their staff and themselves well, they have to charge appropriately for their specialized services. When a veterinarian gives you a deal or a break, that money usually comes from their own pockets. Many veterinarians were not trained to be business people and give away much more than they should.

An Emergency Visit is Going to Cost More Than Your Regular Vet Visit

Emergency animal hospitals exist all over the country to provide your dog with immediate life-saving care. Some emergency hospitals are only open overnight, while others operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is extremely expensive to maintain. It is also not considered a public service like human emergency hospitals, so they are not funded by anyone else but themselves. The owner has to run it like a business or they risk shutting down. Overnight veterinarians and staff also make more money because they are sacrificing a “normal life” to be working overnight shifts. The emergency animal hospitals that run 24 hours are filled with numerous specialists including surgeons, cardiologists, and internists, which have even more specialized training (12+ years). 





If Your Pets are Your Family Members, They Deserve to be Treated as Such

Pet parent relationships have changed over the years, with our furry friends becoming integral parts of many families. With special medications and supplements, highly trained specialists, shampoo and grooming services, the costs have risen to include higher quality care in all aspects. Let’s look at a common procedure, a spay surgery for a female dog, and what that includes: 

  • Pre-surgical blood work to check the organ function of your pet prior to surgery 
  • a pain injection before and after surgery
  • intravenous catheter with fluid support during surgery
  • monitoring of your pet while under anesthesia by a registered veterinary nurse (which includes pulse, respiration, electrical activity of the heart, hydration, and more)
  • a highly trained and qualified Veterinarian to perform the surgery, and post-surgical care

That is all considered the minimum standard of care today, and what would be done in a human hospital as well. If we want more and expect better care for our dogs, then it is going to cost more. 

Veterinarians Outsource a Lot of Specialty Services

With the advancement of technology over the years, Veterinarians have the ability to outsource a lot of diagnostics and consult with a wide array of specialists. For example, X-rays that are taken in the animal hospital are often sent to outside radiologists for a thorough evaluation and report. This is the same thing that would happen for your own X-rays at your doctor or emergency room visit. Blood samples taken at the Vet are sent to outside laboratories, as they have the capabilities to run any test needed on any given sample. Veterinarians will also have consults for your dog with outside nutritionists, toxicologists, and internists, to give you the best treatment plan possible. It used to be that your regular Vet did all of these things before specialists were born, but now we have the ability to provide the gold standard of care all the time.



At your next visit to the Vet, please remember these things.

Your Veterinarian is highly skilled and has well-trained staff, even though many are underpaid. Supplies and equipment cost a lot and veterinarians charge less than their human medicine equivalents. The money you pay for this high-quality care is worth it. And if you need a way to help with your pet care bills, please consider pet insurance. 

Do you have additional questions about the type of Veterinarian you and your furry best friend go to? Please leave your comments below and we would love to hear from you.

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