Why do vet bills cost more than human medical bills?
When humans are sick or injured, our medical bills are mostly covered by the government through Medicare. We know that we can get any of the medical care we need without having to worry about the cost.
When animals get sick or injured, the government does not subsidise any medical treatments and it is the responsibility of the pet’s owner to cover any medical bills. This is why a lot of people spend more on their pet’s medical bills than their own! Surgery or intensive hospitalisation for a sick dog or cat can add up to thousands of dollars, especially if you want your pet to have high quality care.
Here are our top tips for managing the cost of veterinary care without compromising on the health and happiness of your loved one!
1. PREVENTATIVE HEALTH
The old saying, “it is better to prevent than to cure!” is very true when it comes to veterinary care.
• Keep your pets up to date with simple things like vaccines, worming, and flea treatment. This is a lot less expensive than if they were to pick up a horrible bug (such as parvovirus) and need to be in intensive care for days.
• Desex your pets. This is a one-off cost that saves you a lifetime of worrying about the potential for uterine infections, testicular cancers, fighting between dogs, unwanted pregnancies or even emergency caesarians.
• Take good care of their teeth. Dental disease affects almost every adult dog and cat. Good dental hygiene includes tooth brushing, special diet, and regular “Scale & Polish” procedures to remove tartar. Without this, dogs and cats often get painful tooth infections that require surgical removal and this can be a major cost. It’s much better to keep their teeth healthy!
• Keep dogs safe from traffic and be careful around strange dogs at the park. We see a lot of vehicle accidents and nasty dog fight wounds that require major surgery. Dogs should be kept on a leash at all times while near roads, even if they are very well trained.
• Keep cats indoors. This avoids motor vehicle accidents, being injured while fighting other cats, or picking up nasty viruses from the neighbours.
2. PET INSURANCE
Pet insurance works a bit like human medical insurance. You pay a small amount each month as a premium, and then if your pet falls ill the insurance company covers their medical or surgical bills. We recommend pet insurance to all our clients because it means you will never have to make the tough decision: Should I do what is best for my pet, or can I not afford it?
There are many different companies that offer different plans, and you can shop around and decide which one plan is best for your situation.
It’s best to sign up as soon as you get a new puppy or kitten, BEFORE any problems develop. Otherwise, that problem may be considered a “pre-existing condition” and not be covered by the insurance company. However, if you have an older dog or cat you can still sign up. Call the insurance companies directly to discuss your situation and see what they can offer you.
3. TREAT PROBLEMS EARLY
If you have any concerns about your pet’s health, don’t wait for it to get worse before getting help from your vet! Most problems are much easier (and therefore less costly) to treat if they are detected early. Plus, it gives us the best chance of a cure.
We hope this has been useful! If you have any questions about preventive heath or pet insurance, please feel free to contact us.
Dr Grace Woodward BVSc (Hons 1)