Every day in private and emergency practice, both veterinarians and their owners are faced with very difficult financial decisions. Often times the "best care" for our pets is not financially feasible and this is especially true when the unexpected occurs.
When I am in my general practice, I am able to sit down with clients, take time to fashion a treatment plan for the day and even for ongoing care and visits. I often hear my clients say, "I love him. He's like part of our family."
Where this is emotionally very accurate, and I can speak to this because I have 2 very loved pets of my own, we need to start looking at this from a different perspective as pet owners.
Likely most members of your family have medical insurance which is used for both routine care and accidental coverage. Why is this not true for our pets if they are like family to us? Is there a financial obstacle preventing us from providing this coverage for them? Is your veterinarian not informing you about the benefits and availability of pet insurance or options to help budget routine wellness care?
From a veterinarian's perspective, it is often disheartening to have to provide less than the standard of care for pets due to financial constraints. Often times, we are even villianized for our role in facilitating the conversation about the true costs of pet care- being called "heartless", "uncaring", or "over-priced"...
As a profession, we want nothing more than to be ale to use all of the incredible skills we learned in veterinary school and post-doctoral training, such as internships and specialty residencies. Unfortunately, the expense of a small business and competition from "Big Box" Clinics, dictate a specific price point to keep our doors open and our nurses paid while providing you profoundly personalized pet care.
So what is the solution? To think of our pets like we think of our cars.
That may seem very far off the cuff, but imagine if you didn't get your car's oil changed for 3 years and then took it to the mechanic? Chances are there would be more required than the routine change- your air filters, spark plugs, coolant and transmission fluid would all be overdue as well and this would accrue a significant unexpected expense.
The same is true if your pet isn't seen for some time. Many things will be past due for updating and small things that could have been corrected in the early stages will likely be much more costly to correct if they have been neglected.
So maybe comparing the care of our beloved pets to the care of our vehicles is not so far off base. Something to chew on.