The Veterinary Industry – a rant to follow

I’m working hard to reuse, reduce and budget every cent and hour of my day. Key to my happiness is the health of my housemates. Alice and Dahlia are due for heartworm meds. Though I administer them year-round (where are the mosquitos in January??), I can’t buy more until they have had their annual exam and a test for heartworm. Then there is the cost of the meds themselves. All this will conservatively cost me $400. I don’t begrudge the money. I just have to consider the cost. When did the veterinary industry become so greedy?

The the sixties and early seventies, we had lots of animals. At least two dogs, a cat, horses, and sheep. Our vet was an elderly gentleman of epic medical proportions. My brother, Duncan, was so inspired to follow in his foot-steps, he worked for “Conny”  all through high school. Corneilius Thibearult, DVM died three years after Duncan, at the age of 83.  Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine named its equine medical clinic at Grafton in his honor in 1983. In his later years he was crotchety, riddled with arthritis, and reduced his practice to small animals at his clinic in Ipswich, MA. Yet, I remember clearly his barn calls at our small farm and his patience with our questions and ignorance. At one point he gave my mother a small vial of chloroform to ease the death of barn kittens who were mortally injured.

When we bought the farm in Lunenburg, we were lucky enough to find Craig Smith from Nashoba Valley Veterinary Hospital. Craig was newly minted from the University of Pennsylvania and the kindest human I have ever met. He wept with me when we finally had to administer that loving shot to a pet, be it a horse or a dog. His barn calls were all-inclusive; cats, dogs, ferrets, horses. Everyone with four legs was a patient of Craig’s and he knew them all by name. The expenses for drugs were always reduced if he knew we could order a vaccine or medication online cheaper than he could offer. He trusted me to not “cry wolf” and when I had a true emergency he was there.  And he wasn’t afraid to say, “I don’t know but I’ll find out.”  I asked him during an early visit for a small vial of chloroform.  He laughed and said, “Even I can’t get my hands on that anymore, I guess some parents were using it as sleep aid for their kids!”

So today, as I made the appointment for my dogs semi-annual visit, I thought back on the veterinary industry and I became really sad and disappointed. I went through my past receipts and calculated how much this simple preventive appointment was going to cost. Then my bff Lauren came to the rescue. She uses the same vet, who will remain nameless. Her two dogs had just been there for the same appointment. She had two packages of heart worm medication that the vet had marked as expiring in April of this year. They wouldn’t administer the test until she purchased new drugs. Lauren donated the expired packages to me. I opened the boxes and found the manufacturers expiration date on both is January 2016.

The lobby and waiting room of this practice is beautifully decorated in fine wood with lots of glass and huge green plants, three receptionist are on the desk at all times, numerous vet techs rush in and out of examining rooms, shuffling patients. The place is nicer than my own doctor’s office. Computers spit out detailed pages of each pet’s medical history complete with the lists of medical procedures and due dates. All of this takes a lot of cash flow.

I know I’m going to get some heat on this rant from friends who work for veterinarians or veterinary drug companies. The rabies clinics at the feed store and the cut-rate veterinary services of places like Pet Smart are under fire from the INDUSTRY. I’m sure I’m not alone in considering how to afford basic care for my pets. If people are going to find the money to take care of their loved ones in this economy, big business is going to have to wake up to the humanitarian role,  rather than building its bottom line.  When did they become so greedy???


11 thoughts on “The Veterinary Industry – a rant to follow

  1. When I realized our local vet was administering our pets rabies vaccine every year even though it was good for three years I questioned it. Turns out our pets didn’t need all the shots we were giving them, the Vet was just making lots of money. (He had the biggest house in town.) I ‘shopped around’ and found a much cheaper vet a few towns over and used him until I moved.

    Our new vet is also expensive (check out the my blog about my kittens UTI!) For now we will use them until I find someone cheaper I like. But I do plan on ordering some of our meds online if I find them to cost less. Make sure to ask what meds they are administering and don’t feel bad about refusing some. Every year they come out with something new to give and I don’t believe they are all really necessary.

    The last vet we had only charged us one office visit rate if we brought all the animals at once. (A pain in the neck but worth the savings.) Our previous vet would charge us the office visit for each pet whether we brought them all or not. So I would check out your vets policy for that, as well.

    I have found if you tell them you have limited funds for vet care, most vets will work with you and advise what is necessary and is a nice to have. Then you can make the decision.

    • To their credit, the vet practice has donated meds for my very elderly dog. I flat out couldn’t afford her pain meds. Beyond that, I find they administer way too much and are ripping us off on the heartworm. I will do some checking around for better care and prices. Thanks for the tips!

  2. You won’t get any heat from me. My “animal clinic” once told me that if I didn’t cough up $900.00 our dog would be dead within 6 months. That was more than I paid for the car I was driving then and there was just no way I could afford that, so nature would have to take its course. The dog lived for more than six years and I’ve never been back to that vet since. And I have no problem telling people all about that place.

  3. Isn’t it interesting that we are told our pets “need” vaccines every year yet most vets do not do a blood titer to see if the animal still has sufficient antibodies or really needs the vaccine. We finally found a vet who does not believe in over vaccinating and routinely does a titer on our shepherds before ever considering giving them a shot. He is also a homeopathic vet and we have come to really trust him. Very nice blog!

    • Thank you, John! Your blog was recommended by Alan at who I greatly admire. As a second year bee keeper, I was thrilled to find someone else close by with tons of knowledge.

      As to the vet scenario, can you share the name of yours? Willing to travel from P’boro area towards Keene or wherever…

  4. It seems the service industries no longer exist to serve us but to make money. For doctors we are lucky enough to have the NHS but dentists and vets cost more than many can afford.

  5. Pingback: Saint George Veterinary Personal Statement |

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