The cost of veterinary medicine
The cost of veterinary medicine has escalated over the last several decades. I think the largest factor driving this escalation is that our relationship with our pets continues to evolve from being property to becoming cherished members of the family. Our pets have moved from being kept outdoors to sleeping with us in our beds.
With this shift in owners’ relationships with their pets comes an increase in the demand for quality and compassionate veterinary care. In years gone by, owners didn’t seek out diagnostics to treat their pet. If there wasn’t a quick, inexpensive way to help the pet, it often went without treatment or was possibly euthanized.
Fast forward to present day when we see pets being cared for like they are family members. We want what’s best and along with this demand comes an increase in costs.
The demand for veterinary care means more investments must be made by veterinary clinics to deliver these services. Investments in professional staff, technology, inventory, proper facilities, etc. increase a clinic’s expenses.
Of these expenses, staffing is typically the largest. A typical veterinary clinic employs receptionists, veterinary assistants, animal health technologists (AHTs) and veterinarians. Each have certain levels of training required to provide quality veterinary care. Receptionists may earn a diploma in veterinary office assistance; AHTs will spend a minimum of two years in college, while a veterinarian will spend a minimum of six years in university. With this level of training, these professionals will expect to be compensated fairly. In addition, most clinics spend money for continuing education for their staff to keep up to date on new and emerging medicines and treatments.
Progressive practices also invest in a high level of technology. Computerized records, digital X-ray, laboratory equipment, anesthetic machines, surgical and dental equipment, ultrasonography, etc. are crucial to diagnose and treat pets on the spot. Technology also rapidly changes so there is a need to replace equipment to advance a clinic’s ability to do a better job.
Having inventory on hand is also expensive. Many clinics will have medications/diets in clinic for the convenience of clients and their pets.
Additional expenses are typical to most businesses such as electricity, natural gas, rent, etc. As a result of these heavy overhead costs, the fees charged in the delivery of veterinary services can get quite expensive if you aren’t prepared.
Dr. Dave Seefeldt is a veterinarian with Airdrie Animal Health Centre.