Saturday, March 10, 2012

Vetiquette: The Second Opinion

It happens to all of us: A pet has a condition that's threatening to empty our savings account. We love our pet, but there is the thought in the back of our heads that maybe we can save a bit of money if we go somewhere else. People we know tell us " MY vet only charged me half as much for the same thing."
Vets can vary widely on their pricing. Unless it's life threatening, you may have some time to shop the price. Keep one simple thing in mind: Shopping prices will cost you.
Unlike getting your car or house painted, vet estimates are not free. You don't shop prices for surgeries on your kids. You have to physically bring your pet in for an exam from the doctor you want the estimate from. Laws governing veterinary practices are very similar to those governing human medical practices. A vet must physically see the patient or risking losing a license.
I've had people call me on the phone while their pet is being prepped for surgery. Estimates from other places tossed across my desk. Owners asking ME to look at their pet and give them an estimate, for free, of course. And of all the issues I've had to discuss with owners that are less than happy, the second opinion answer is the one that creates the most anger : we can't do anything until the vet sees the pet first. I've been cussed out, sworn at, and had stuff thrown at me. In the time owners have spent arguing with me over it, their pet could have been seen and had an estimate given.
Sure, simple spays and neuters can have estimates given over the phone, but other things are more complicated and what is needed depends on the pet's age and condition.
Be prepared to spend the cost of an exam when asking for a second opinion. Bring all records, medications, blood test results and x rays with you when you come for your appointment. Feel free to ask questions. When you see the estimate, it is okay to ask if certain things are necessary, or whether they are optional.

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