Overcharging Folks on a Fixed Income

I just saw an older woman who brought in her little dog for some issues. Some diarrhea, and some allergies. I mentioned it needed a dental cleaning, but that we would focus on resolving the current issues first and do the dental at a later date.

She then said to me, "Well, I am on a pension and it's fixed but I understand it needs to be done and I will do it, I just don't know when. But everybody knows vets overcharge people, well, people like me who don't have limitless funds."

Excuse me? Yes, my absolute sole purpose in life is to overcharge veterans and retired folks. On purpose. Then, I skip gleefully down to the bank in the moonlight with my overflowing riches.

I told her that she could likely find a cheaper dental elsewhere, but it would not be the same dental. Then she told me she didn't think the cheaper price I quoted her off-hand was a bargain either, and I said "Well, you're entitled to think whatever you like, but we charge appropriately for our services and you can take them or leave them."

Just as with any other field, various providers will charge differently for similar items. Usually they are on a spectrum of similarity, with most being about the same price and a few outliers in either direction.

The difference is, people seem to think that veterinary care should cost pennies or be free. Or my favorite, that we "sell things to people that they don't need."

No, that's what retailers do. Those constant ads for leasing a new car, or for buying that new iPhone, or for those shoes that are on sale this weekend only, those ads are selling you things that you don't need. You may WANT them, and if you want them you will spend money on them, even if it is money you don't necessarily have, but you don't NEED them.

But when your vet tells you that your pet NEEDS flea prevention, because there are fleas crawling all over your pet and that means they are in your house and potentially carrying bacteria such as Yersinia or Bartonella or tapeworms or Mycoplasma, it is because your pet actually needs to be free of these pests for their own comfort and safety and yours. Not because we are trying to make a buck. Most vets will honestly tell you you can now get flea control over the counter (it won't work as well as prescription and there are some that are safe and sadly many that are not), but just get something. Anything is better than nothing.

(Most) Veterinarians are not rich. This has been discussed elsewhere many times. No vet ever went into debt over 200k and alienated their family and friends because they are never around "for the money." We do it for one reason, because we are driven. We wake up early to go in and see the pet we stayed up late worrying about over night; we discount things that we can get away with so the pet can have what it needs even if the owner can't afford it; we squeeze in one more urgent appointment at the end of the night because the owner sounds desperate, even though we were already supposed to be off; we see the technician's pets and make phone calls to pet owners through our entire lunch; and we do these things because we care about the animals. Their health and well-being is our bottom line. And that's all.


  1. Corneal abrasion - $105.40 to fix and in my opinion, an absolute bargain at that price (included consult fee). I really don't understand how people can have pets and not look after them.


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