How the Cost of Veterinary Care Impacts Pets, Clients & Veterinarians

You’ve just adopted a new puppy or kitten and you take it to the vet’s office for a first appointment.  Would you expect your veterinarian to spend time talking to you about the financial burden of future veterinary care if your pet gets sick or injured over the course of its lifetime?  Many pet owners discuss routine care like vaccinations and spay/neuter when they take a new pet to the vet, but it might be surprising if their vet brings up potential future costs of treating a disease like cancer, or surgery for a broken leg.

Veterinarians often find themselves in the difficult position of taking a client’s ability to pay into account when deciding on the quality of care a sick or injured pet can receive.  A recent survey of over 1,000 small animal practice veterinarians, published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Association, examines this very important issue.

Dr. Barry Kipperman, a veterinarian who conducted this study with several colleagues, outlines the key findings of the survey in an article on the website dvm360.com.

  • 57% of surveyed vets reported that a client’s financial limitations impact their ability to provide the level of care they would like to give to an animal.
  • 77% of the vets who reported some degree of professional burnout said that clients’ financial limitations were a contributing factor to at least some extent.
  • While a majority of the vets reported discussing vaccinations and spay/neuter with clients, only 32% talked about costs of veterinary care prior to a pet becoming sick or injured. Only 23% reported discussing pet health insurance with clients.
  • A majority of the vets said that pet welfare and client satisfaction (as well as their own satisfaction) improved when clients were aware of pet health insurance and the costs of veterinary care.

As Dr. Kipperman points out, few people entering vet school ever think about the sad reality of denying care to a pet because of a client’s inability to pay for services.  He suggests that it is in the best interests of pets, their owners, and their vets to have conversations about potential future costs of care.  It is possible for pet owners to prepare for future expenses…if they have a good understanding of what to expect.  This increased awareness can start with a concerted effort to educate veterinary students, practicing veterinarians, and pet owners about the importance of talking about the costs of veterinary care.

 

10 Questions to Ask Your New Veterinarian

Did you get a new pet and need to find a veterinarian? Or maybe you moved to a new town and have to look for a new vet. There are lots of reasons why we might be in the market for a new veterinary practice to take care of our companion animals. But whether you’re a first-time pet owner or have cared for animals all your life, there are a few key questions you should be asking any new vet. We’ve gathered the best advice from the experts on what to ask a prospective vet:

1.What services are available at the practice? This includes things like X-ray and ultrasound, lab work, and EKG.

2. How does the vet handle emergencies? Some will take your call outside of office hours, some won’t. If they don’t, what emergency clinics do they recommend?

3. What is their vaccination “policy” in terms of what they think is essential vs. optional, and will they accommodate your preferences?

4. Does the practice recommend that you get pet insurance?

5. Do they have specialists on staff if they are large, or a good referral network of specialists if they are small?

6. What is the average time it takes to get an appointment? A few hours or a few days?

7. Do they have overnight care? Is there a staff member on-site 24 hours a day? Many practices, especially small ones, will not have this.

8. Do they have separate waiting rooms, exam rooms, and kennel areas for dogs and cats to reduce your pet’s stress?

9. What are their prices for typical procedures like dentals, annual check-ups, spay/neuter, and vaccinations?

10. Do they have payment plans, flexible payment schedules, or any special discounts for multiple-pet clients?

 

Proposed Legislation Gives Hope to CA Pet Owners Facing Large Vet Bills

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Here’s some good news for California pet parents…a bill introduced by State Assemblyperson Devon Mathis (R-Visalia) seeks to provide assistance to pet owners seeking help for large veterinary expenses. The proposed legislation, Assembly Bill 942, would provide for an income tax credit that would let California pet owners write off half of the money spent on veterinary care, up to $2,000 per year.

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According to an article in the Sacramento Bee, this tax credit would be for dog and cat owners only, and would cover expenses like vaccinations, check-ups, surgery, X-rays, and prescriptions.

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Mathis was inspired to introduce this bill based on the sad fact that pet owners sometimes have to euthanize a seriously sick or injured animal because they cannot afford treatment. The FACE Foundation was founded to end the tragedy of economic euthanasia by providing financial assistance to qualified pet owners for life-saving veterinary care.

We applaud the effort by Assemblyperson Mathis to help end economic euthanasia across California. As he says, “It helps everyone across the state, every family and every pet lover out there.” We couldn’t agree more!

 

A FACE in the Spotlight: Meet Dr. Seth Ganz

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Dr. Ganz and Rebel

In addition to being a surgeon at FACE partner Veterinary Specialty Hospital, Dr. Seth Ganz also serves as a Veterinary Relations Advisor on FACE’s Advisory Committee.   Dr. Ganz’s dedication to saving the lives of pets in need of urgent veterinary care is obvious. “As a doctor, I like knowing that there may be a chance to help an animal and the family when another option isn’t available,” says Dr. Ganz. “I’m just always grateful that I am in a position where I can help!”

Dr. Ganz has a DVM from Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. He completed a 3 year small animal surgical residency in Wisconsin and is board certified by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. Dr. Ganz performs a wide range of surgeries, including orthopedic and soft tissue surgery as well as neurosurgery. What’s his most memorable FACE case? “They are all equally memorable, whether the actual case was more severe/dramatic/unusual, it doesn’t matter,” says Dr. Ganz. Dr. Ganz is grateful for the opportunity to perform surgeries on pets that would otherwise be debilitated, die, or be euthanized for economic reasons.

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Dr. Ganz and Winter

 Dr. Ganz values his collaborative relationship with FACE. “It’s a special group of people and it was started purely as a desire to solve a real problem and make a real difference,” he notes. As for himself, “It’s a chance to be involved with a group that has shown a determination to make a significant impact on the lives of so many animals and their families here in San Diego,” he says. In his role as FACE Advisory Committee Member, Dr. Ganz advises on decisions for funding medical care for potential FACE grantees. “This allows the organization to use donations in the most effective manner and maximize the intended result per donated dollar,” explains Dr. Ganz.

While Dr. Ganz enjoys his work at the hospital and with FACE, he also values spending his off-time with his wife, young twin boys, and a one-eyed pit bull-mix named Winter. Dr. Ganz enjoys running and biking, and hopes to travel to new destinations with his wife when life gets a bit less hectic!

Dr. Ganz enthusiastically recommends that other veterinary practices consider working with FACE or other organizations with a similar mission in their geographic area. “They want to help,” he says. “They want to get their donations to the pets that need them. Vets want to help every patient. It’s a win-win. Enough said!” We couldn’t agree more, Dr. Ganz! Thanks to you and all of your colleagues at VSH for helping us save the lives of pets in need!

 

 

 

The 15 Most Dangerous Pet Toxins

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The experts in veterinary toxicology at the Animal Poison Control Center recently put out a very useful list of the top 15 drugs, household items, and plants that are dangerous to pets. Here’s a quick rundown. Be sure to check out their website for the complete story, lots of valuable information about pet poisons, and to learn more about the 24/7 Pet Poison Helpline: 855-764-7661.

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  1. Sago Palm. An ornamental plant that is highly toxic and can cause liver failure in pets. Unsafe as an indoor or outdoor plant.

2. 5-Fluorouracil. A topical chemotherapy treatment which can be deadly to pets.

3. Baclofen. A human muscle relaxant that can cause seizures, coma, and death in pets.

4. Isoniazid. A treatment for tuberculosis, this drug can cause severe toxic reactions in pets.

5. Calcipotriene/Calcipotriol. A synthetic form of Vitamin D. Even a tiny amount can be toxic to pets.

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6. Lilies. Lilies are especially toxic to cats…even the pollen. Ingesting lilies causes acute kidney failure in cats.

7. Ethylene Glycol. This is the sweet-tasting but toxic ingredient in antifreeze that causes kidney failure and central nervous system distress in pets.

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8. Metaldehyde. An ingredient in snail and slug bait. Causes seizures, tremors, and hypothermia in pets.

9. Baking Xylitol. This type of sugar substitute is especially toxic to dogs, even more so than the xylitol in gum or candy, because it is 100% xylitol.

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10. Golden Malrin. A fly bait that can cause the same symptoms as organophosphates (see #11).

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11. Organophosphates. A type of insecticide that causes severe central nervous system, heart, and digestive reactions in pets.

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12. Rodenticides made with Vitamin D or Bromethalin. Two very dangerous types of rodent killer that are designed to be attractive to animals. Ones made with Vitamin D cause kidney failure and those with bromethalin cause brain swelling.

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13. Japanese Yew. All parts of this ornamental plant are toxic to pets. In fact, horses can die if they graze on the trimmings.

14. Caffeine Pills. This includes diet and fitness supplements that contain caffeine. Pets are extremely sensitive to the effects of caffeine.

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15. Grapes and Raisins. Can cause severe kidney failure in pets, even just a small amount.