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This veterinarian’s year-end pet expenses tally (and how much vets tend to save)

Posted Dec 09 2009 10:00pm

I’m a veterinarian so I get breaks on animal care. This I know. I operate under no illusion that the dozen backyard-raised eggs––delicious though they might have been––offered fair and just compensation for an expert ultrasound examination earlier this week.

Tulip’s ultrasound this past Monday was an inexpensive affair for me. Meanwhile, the owner of a diabetic patient spent $300 on the very same day when an ultrasound was performed using the very same machine by the very same veterinarian.

In case it isn’t clear, the point of this post is this: Veterinarians save lots on pet care. But just how much isn’t always clear. But while it may vary somewhat, the case is almost always that non-veterinarians think we save a whole lot more than we actually do.

To illustrate the point, here’s my year-end tally for my pet expenses:

Dog food: $150/month = $1,800 Dog supplements: $15/month = $180 Goat food and supplements: $5/day = $1,825 Chicken food: $20/month = $240 Goat meds and vaccines: $10/month = $120 Chicken litter and supplies: $10/month = $120 Chicken coop: $500 Fencing repairs: $600 Stanchion: $150 Dog supplies, misc (X-pen, new crate, new mats, etc.): $300 Stray cat expenses (spay, neuter, testing and euthanasia supplies): $250 Specialist’s lunches/coffee (gotta suck up nicely to get freebies): $200 Staff lunches/coffee (more sucking up): $300 Dog veterinary drugs and supplies: $250 Veterinary laboratory expenses (bloodwork): $200 Comfortis: $160 Heartgard: $60 Total: $7,255


That’s $7,255. Lots of cash, right? And that’s for mostly healthy animals. OK, so what did I get for “free” this year? Hmmm...

One surgery on Slumdog (OK, two if you count the screw removal). Veterinary services on the ultrasound Veterinary services on Slumdog’s recovery from street life (derm consultation, etc.) Discounts on meds and supplies (almost none on foods)


So how much did I save? Given the obvious (that I never would have gone for Slumdog’s surgery unless I had the “in” with the veterinary surgeon boyfriend), I’ll move the surgical procedure off the list, discount the specialist and staff sucking up and estimate I saved about $1,000 to $1,500. No small change, but not the kind of savings you might expect, right? And when you factor in what I still pay for my student loans the "free" on some of those veterinary services is probably not an accurate description.

Here’s where I’m starting to think that getting pet insurance might deserve a slot on my New Year’s resolution list.


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