Is Your Vet Ripping You Off?

KNBC went undercover and found a bunch of vets are more sales people than pet doctors, using fear to sell more treatment than is necessary. They took pets with minor ailments, checked out by a vet, to several different vets. Instead of getting the minor fixes they should have been recommended, these vets advised expensive extra tests, procedures, and medicines geared more towards lining their pockets than healing the pets. One dog had an upset stomach but was recommended a $300 “eyelid scraping,” despite his eyes being perfect. When confronted, the vet said she had done nothing wrong, and “eyelid scraping is not done in the states, but she used to do it in Austria.” She also admitted there was nothing the matter with the dog’s eyes. The report says that if you get recommended an expensive procedure, get a second opinion.

Vet Investigation [KNBC]

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  1. joeblevins says:

    Dentist are doing the same thing. Vets can’t make enough money just euthinizing your dogs anymore, they gotta fix’em up. Heck, on Drudge Report there is an article about doggie anti-depressants.

  2. GizmoBub says:

    That’s why it’s so important to find a trustworthy vet. The one that I use for my cat has been incredible and reasonable, even going so far as to not charge me for minor visits and treatments on a number of occasions and when I do get charged it’s rarely as much as I expect.

  3. Anonymous says:

    a good vet is like a good mechanic; you absolutely have to find one you trust.

  4. B says:

    Huh. I have a good relationship with my vet, and I wouldn’t expect him to rip me off. Still, though, other than the fact that he seems like a nice guy, I have no reason to believe him. He’s never tried to push any expensive treatments on me, though. For the record, I have a diabetic cat, and I board him at the vet’s when I go away for more than a few days.

  5. redhelix says:

    Vets can just be awful. A friend of my mom’s was recommended a $2200 surgical procedure for her cat while being told said cat’s life is in grave danger. She took it to another vet who recommended laxatives. The cat is fine now.

  6. MDSasquatch says:

    Doctor Kevin Fitgerald (of Animal Planet fame) was our family vet for a long time; I knew him before he got famous. I did a lot of freelance photography for him and he did my vet care for free. There is none better!

    Unfortunately, I had to move from Colorado and I have yet to find anyone that even comes close.

    Took my cat in about a month ago, told he would need a $1000 procedure, I opted to have him gassed; suddenly the price dropped to $300 for an alternate procedure. He is as good as new and doesn’t even know how close he came to meeting his maker.

    In their defense, vets do a great service, and need to make money too; too bad the unkempt docs pollute the pool of quality animal docs

  7. Hamm Beerger says:

    My vet has always turned me away from expensive procedures. Once I even had to talk him into do a root canal on my dog’s broken tooth… he wanted to just take a wait-and-see approach and do something if it got infected.

  8. gruffydd says:

    I’m going to stay away from Vets that offer “Wellness Plans”

    “Our Annual Wellness Plan is only $167 for pets 1-6 years of age. For pets 7 years and older, our Annual Wellness Plan is $197, which includes more extensive blood and urine analysis.
    ——————————————————-
    For Added value, upgrade your pet’s wellness plan:
    See the vet more often! Get 3 exam visits for only $65. Three exams would normally cost you $195. This is a great value that will pay for itself the first time you use it!*

    —————-
    They are banking on the fact you won’t use it. I signed up for this, but the next time I had to take Fido to the Vet, the Wellness plan (3 visits) had expired. And then the assistant tried to sign me up for the plan again!

    The worse by far is VCA – [www.vcapets.com]

  9. gruffydd says:

    Can anyone recommend one in North Orange County, CA?

  10. Laffy Daffy says:

    Growing up we had a German Shepard for a while and once I accompanied my mom to the vet. Two things from that visit will haunt me forever.

    First, the vet stuck his hand (or maybe just a finger or two) up the dog’s butt to squeeze some gland; the resulting liquid and especially the smell was something I will never ever ever forget.

    But the really gross thing was the vet’s heartworm pitch; he shoved a glass jar under my our noses that contained a dog heart (I assume) with hundreds of tiny white threads that protruded from everywhere in and around the heart. If we didn’t immediately start a heartworm regimen (which seemed expensive at the time, though I don’t remember the price) our dog would surely get infested with these parasites and die a slow, lingering and very painful death. My mother kindly demurred but had very unkind words for him on the way home.

  11. bohemian says:

    Wow! The second vet wanting to put the dog under to treat it’s ears is absolutely full of it. I worked as a vet tech for about eight years. There are very rare occasions when they would anesthetize an animal to clean it’s ears. They were usually extremely infected and painful so that they can’t even be touched or the animal is completely uncontrollable. The dog looked cooperative and seriously infected ears are pretty obvious, they will be bright red inside and the dog won’t let you mess with their ear area.

    The tools used to clean out a dogs ears? A peroxide cleaning solution, a rubber bulb syringe like you use to clean snot out of a baby’s nose and qtips. Sometimes they will use a small wire loop. It looks like a dental instrument with a closed tiny wire loop at the end.

    That vet was describing all sorts of BS about what he needed to do.

  12. flairness says:

    I used to work as an unlicensed vet asst. That was probably illegal on the part of the doctor, but hey, I was in high school and did what I was told at my job.

    Anyway, he would have line items on his bill: “Surgical Instruments”. I asked him one day what this included. He says it included a portion of the costs to buy the re-usable equipment (metal things…the things you think of when you imagine The Tray) as well as charges for one-time use items, like the breathing tubes.

    Problem is, he RE-USED those breathing tubes. Even though they clearly say ‘Single Use Only’ on them, they got a good 50 or so uses before he’d throw them away. Not only that, but he would charge exorbitant amounts for the ‘portion’ of the purchase price. His “Surgical Instruments” line item was usually well over $200. Even for a simple procedure like a spay.

    I’ve thought many times about turning him in, but I don’t know who to turn him in to.

  13. MDSasquatch says:

    Heartguard and annual vaccinations are the least you can do to keep you pet healthy; if you don’t want to take care of a pet, then don’t get one.

  14. friendlynerd says:

    @boones farmer:

    Those are both legitimate things. The gland is something that sometimes gets stopped up and will cause the dog to scoot across the floor. Happened to my dog from time to time. Heartworm is also very real – and preventative meds are not expensive.

  15. UpsetPanda says:

    I found a very good vet for my rabbit. It’s difficult to find a vet that specializes in ‘exotic’ animals because the anatomy is very different. Just like you wouldn’t trust someone specializing in podiatry to treat a neurological condition. They’re friendly, attentive, pretty reasonable in their prices, and they’re open on saturdays.

  16. PinkBox says:

    @bohemian: I had a vet that wanted to put a cat under to clean her ears too. I ended up not going back to that vet. It seemed completely unnecessary, and now, three years later – the cat is still fine.

    As for the guy that was going to put his cat to sleep to get out of paying $1000, wtf? Get a second opinion! I’ve gladly shelled out over $2000 trying to save a pet’s life before. :P

  17. UpsetPanda says:

    @MDSasquatch: Did you get a second opinion? I don’t know your story, but just because your cat’s treatment would’ve been $1,000 you were just going to get rid of him? $1,000 is really steep, so I understand if there didn’t seem to be anything that could be done.

  18. arch05 says:

    @gruffydd: So you’re pissed because you paid for a plan but didn’t use it?

  19. PinkBox says:

    @boones farmer: I actually agree with the vet regarding the heart worm treatment. My family had a german shepard that they had to pay a good $700 on to save his life because of a heartworm infestation. :/

    The anal gland thing is pretty common in dogs, too.

  20. shadow735 says:

    I have a cool vet he gets to the point and only perscribes what is needed, my vet bills are usually very cheap. I adopted a 14 month old Beagle named Copper from beaglesandbuddies.com and he got bordatello and kennel cough, talk about terrible sick puppy.
    the vet vist was 30 bucks and the medicine(antibiotics and cough suppressant pills) was $40 something so my cost was about $75, I had to get the antibiotics refilled twice because my pup was very sick he must have had the worst case of bordatello and kennel cough a dog could have so that cost me another $100 bucks. But he got better. I took him in the other day to have his stitches from his neutering taken out and nails clipped $22 bucks they didnt charge me for an office visit. So this vet is awesome and doesnt try to stick you with extra fees.

  21. MDSasquatch says:

    to clarify: the cat had crystals in his bladder, was “spotting” everywhere and looked near death.

    Took him to the vet on an emergency basis (no appointment)

    Vet said he needed to keep him for two days, set up a catheter, flush the bladder, administer antibiotics, etc… cost $1000

    I don’t have $1000 laying around, especially when he told us that there was no guarantee it would work.

    For $300, they flushed his bladder for 2 hours, gave him antibiotics to take home and a bag of medicated cat food.

    Bottom line, he is just fine.

  22. Pfluffy says:

    There is always a shining example of sleeziness in every profession. Shame on the bad vets!

    I want a good “my produce stand salesguy ripped me off” undercover story next.

  23. vdragonmpc says:

    Not a good subject for me. Mr great dane had a limp early in the summer and I took her to animal care associates in colonial heights. They were more interested in ‘heart worm regimines’ for an indoor dog that was already on heartworm meds and told me she was infested. (Said meds you buy online are not real like what they sell) Then when I pressed the issue the vet said she had bone cancer and I needed 1000$ or so in xrays.

    Needless to say I got another opinion. I was told she had limes disease from a tick on her butt. I gave her the meds for that and some pills for arthritis. She did not get better and was losing the use of her right rear leg. I scheduled another appointment later in the fall and then before christmas she was set up for x-rays. I was told not to feed her the day before or that day. She wasnt seen until 4pm not 9am and was home at 7pm. My dog was dead at 10:30pm right after I arrived home from my job. 4 hours after ‘xrays’ I lost and animal that just had leg issues. NO breathing heart or stomach problems. She barely had a bite of food and we really dont know what happened. It just traumatized my wife and I. We expected her to get older and slower but she just dropped and was gone.

    I am in search of a good vet in the colonial heights-chester area BEFORE I get another dog. She was only 7 years old.

    V

  24. shadow735 says:

    @NameGoesHere: my sister has to have her dog “expressed” I dont know much about it but that if she isnt she drags her butt on the floor. It has something to do with oil build up. I saw that some dog groomers squeeze those glands when they wash and groom your dog.
    So if your pooch is dragging its butt on the ground take it to a vet to get expressed as its very painful for the dogs as far as I can tell and know.

  25. jenocyde says:

    I took my cat to the vet a few days ago for her yearly check up. The vet (after sort of touching the cat’s neck for five seconds) says it seems she has developed a heart murmur. He recommends I take her to a animal cardiologist (no idea there were such people) to have some tests/scans/$400+ worth of work done.

    Turns out – his wife is a cardiologist! And he highly recommends her (and told me two others in the area weren’t good)!

    We’re going to another vet next weekend for a 2nd opinion…

  26. lapazlinda says:

    $750 to give my cat and enema, and the upselling at the front desk when I tried to escape was appalling-special treats, special food, special toys………….

    Luckily I found a new vet-

  27. shadow735 says:

    @vdragonmpc: That is so sad, I am sorry for your loss. I had a dog from child hood(5th grade) and she lived for 17 years till she got tumors and started having seizures and I had to have her put to sleep. It has taken me 11-12 years to get over that and I recently adopted a dog 4 months ago and I love him to bits. I couldnt imagine losing him. When you get another dog adopt one they are the best and will bond with you super fast. My Copper is like my shadow. He is a Beagle so he has lots of love to give, he has so much that he even kisses the air with his tongue heh heh.

  28. toddiot says:

    This has already been done by CBC’s Marketplace =/

  29. llcooljabe says:

    Seriously, I blame this partly on greed, but partly on CYA Medicine.

    I’m not sure if malpractice is a risk for vets, but doctors for humans do this all the time–prescribing tests not because they think they’ll find something, but because they want to be in a position to say (God forbid), that they tested for everything.

  30. ninabi says:

    Love the new vet we found. Anybody who says,
    Your cat is old, don’t put him through any more tests, let him eat what he wants and leave him alone- I know they are not trying to push pricey treatments just to make a buck.

    Are you sure? I asked. Every other vet we’ve had around the US over the past 18 years wanted to do ALL the shots,
    tooth scaling, pre-tooth scaling lab work, etc etc plus a special diet.

    I worked for a vet, I do understand that very sick animals require special diets but just like with human dentists- I want to run like hell when crap gets peddled in a medical office.

  31. mike1731 says:

    @boones farmer: What you describe with the fingers is a procedure known as expressing the anal glands. On some dogs, they get inflamed, and need to be expressed. Typically you’ll see the pooch dragging their rump around on the carpet or yard, but the vet may have seen some other sign. This is a procedure best not seen, it can be pretty gross.

    As for the heartworm, I think the graphic display of the heart was a bit over the top, but heartworms can be a real issue in many parts of the country. Mostly what I’ve seen in vet’s offices are pictures or drawing of affected hearts, not the real thing. Sounds like what you got was a major shot of “too much information”.

    I tend to agree with the assemssments here on vets. Our family volunteers with a national breed rescue organization, and one of our dogs we currently care for had bladder stones, diabetes, and very bad teeth. Bills add up quickly. I think our vet is pretty good overall, but some just are in it for the money.

  32. NoWin says:

    Most major cities may have an ASPCA hospital or clinic or two. Not that they are any less expensive, but often you can work out payment plans if a pet is really sick and needs urgent care.

    In Boston we have the greatest pet doc’s I’ve ever met at Angell Memorial MSPCA Hospital. (Shameless plug for Angell) Heck, I should go there and try to get treated when I am sick, nevermind the cats! Near miracle-workers, imho.

  33. Ihaveasmartpuppy says:

    @MDSasquatch:

    Actually current research shows that annual vaccines may do more harm than good. Progressive vets are going to a 2 or 3 year schedule for the basics, rabies is already 3 year in many areas and is now being researched for a 5 to 7 year schedule (even life). Titers can be taken for the basic vaccines to show immunity instead of forcing more jabs.

    Think about it – do humans need yearly shots? It seems like the yearly schedule was a way to get people to bring their pets in for checkups. Now the heartworm test does that. Don’t skip the heartworm if you’re in an infected area (or travel to one).

  34. char says:

    I know they are out there, but I work with a bunch of Vet’s, and both my parents are Vets (in an academic setting). 95% of Vet’s I know are in it for the animals, most of the Vet students are there out of a desire to help (some might say, too much flipper). I know bad ones are out there, but this is generally a profession that is out to help.

  35. chemmy says:

    My old vet insisted on testing my (healthy) cat for a bunch of crazy diseases and billing me for hundreds and hundreds of dollars for the tests and the “treatments”

    Now I’m out about $1200 and I took him to another vet for an annual check-up and was told my cat was perfectly healthy but they do know that a lot of their new customers came to them complaining of inflated bills at the other place.

  36. catskyfire says:

    Vets can be a lot like normal doctors. Some are good some are in it for the money.

    On the dog butt squeezing: My vet did it to my former cat, too. And man was I glad that wasn’t my job. It did stink to high heaven, because it was impacted poop stuff. That’s the point where you remember they aren’t all nice fluffy moments.

    The vet my friend went to was good, too. The cat was old, and suddenly started having problems. They diagnosed diabetes and the cat improved remarkably for a month or so, then suddenly went down. The vet did some tests, and said that the cat’s body was hurting it’s own good blood cells. She admitted that she didn’t know why and that while there were things that could be done, the cost would rise and there was no guarantee that it would work. (That is, it might…it might now, and it was like flipping a coin.)
    Sometimes, someone admitting that they didn’t have a clue (and she did consult with some of her colleagues) is better than someone trying things that may or may not work without any real idea.
    (It helps to realize that much of pet medicine is still vague guesswork, because you can’t ask the animal things like “Does it hurt after you eat? Was the vomiting occurring before, or after, you groomed your butt?”)

  37. scoosdad says:

    They took pets with minor ailments, checked out by a vet, to several different vets.

    Isn’t any other pet owner besides me a little upset that this TV station trotted sick animals around from vet to vet in order to get this story for the 11 PM report?

    It’s not quite the same as disabling a hard drive in a laptop BIOS then taking it to Geek Squad to see if they figure out what’s wrong.

    Maybe they uncovered some important information, but this in the end was all about TV ratings.

  38. ooby says:

    @vdragonmpc: Great Danes are usually on their way out at 7.@llcooljabe: It depends on the state. In some states, you can only recover the cost to adopt the dog.

  39. emjsea says:

    @scoosdad:
    Nope! Just you and the wingnuts at PETA. Well, anyway, I’m going back to my hamburger (taste the delicious suffering!)

  40. UpsetPanda says:

    @scoosdad: Well, I don’t know the context. Many owners wait months to take care of minor issues, because of time or they don’t see it right away, so it depends on whether these animals were taken in a span of a week or a few months. Sure, vet visits can be stressful on animals, but not generally if they’re spread out.

  41. nardo218 says:

    I’ve heard some of your consumerists say this, but I hven’t had a problem w/ our small town vet. She won’t even lance the revolting cyst on my Furball’s (cat) shoulder, no matter how crusty he gets it; she won’t sell us anything to cure his dander either. (At least he controls his bladder?)

    My dentist, otoh, wants to replace my 15 year old fillings. Have you heard of replacing fillings? My older relatives have theirs still from the dark ages (50s).

  42. foxfire235 says:

    Interesting… we don’t have vets up here, heck we don’t even have doctors. If your animal gets sick you take it out to the woodshed old yeller style. Seriously.

  43. vdragonmpc says:

    @ooby: I have never seen a dog go from playing with me on Monday to dropping dead on tuesday. She was playful and fun she just didnt walk well. The xrays showed her spine was fusing and her leg joints also were fusing. I expected a long drawn out ordeal. Kind of like we already were doing by useing a beach towel to get her upstairs. I hold no animosity at all at the final vet except that its not a good idea to not feed a dog for 24 hours that has never been starved ever. I have a feeling she ate something she wasnt supposed to (she was FAST and you couldnt get it back before it was down the hatch)
    I dont know what happened BUT I do know I miss my dog and the BUSINESS called Animal Care Associates in Colonial Heights was completely uninterested in treating my dog for her health or anything other than money. I always left there several hundred dollars lighter. Im glad I got a second opinion and honestly what happened was for the best. The vet (not animal care) was heartbroken and sorry and even called to check up on me later as I couldnt talk at the vets office that morning.

  44. luckybob343 says:

    My vet told me my kitten needs new batteries in order to become an adult cat (she’s 9 months old). He said you can’t access the battery compartment without a license and that our particular model cat requires three K-cell batteries that you have to be a vet to order.

    $500 per battery is expensive, but I love my cat! You should see the happy, glassed-over look she gets every time we hook the 36-volt charger up to her tail.

  45. CPC24 says:

    I’d been taking my dogs to Banfield (PetSmart), and it was good, but high priced. Not to mention the “health plans” they try to sell. Then a month ago, a new local vet opened and they cost less than half of what Banfield does. I got my dog’s teeth cleaned for $100, compaed to Banfield’s $250!

  46. hopieam says:

    @scoosdad: I couldn’t watch the video (VERY slow web connection), but thank you for at least thinking of this. The cause is a good one (to test vets’ integrity), but not at the expense of letting an animal suffer, even if it’s a little stress.

    A neighbor once brought me an injured dog he’d found. The dog had a 2-inch hole in one of his front legs. You could see the leg bones clearly. It was Saturday, & my regular vet was closed & the emergency clinic was too expensive ($150 just for the visit). So I went to a Banfield clinic in a local Petsmart because they have extended hours. I just wanted to get him looked at and treated for anything that needed immediate attention. Then I would take the dog to my regular vet on Monday. Banfield said he would need a leg amputation & gave me a written, detailed quote of about $1100. I didn’t doubt the need for amputation, but the price…whew!

    On Monday, I showed my regular vet the amputation quote, & he just couldn’t believe it. He went through it & explained some of the charges. Some were unnecessary, some were very overpriced, & some were for the equivalent of walking across the room. This was in 2002, so while I still have the quote, I can’t remember the details of my vet’s explanation. But he said that the vets employed by Banfield (a national chain, I believe) get high salaries & expensive perks, & this is how they pay for them.

    Anyway, my vet charged $300 to do it. He might have given me a small discount because I rescue & bring many animals to him, but it wasn’t much. Certainly not an $800 discount!

  47. barty says:

    Emergency vets are the worst. They can cough up a $2000 bill faster than you can blink an eye. I had to take my cat to one once after some neighborhood punk decided it would be a good idea to break his jaw. I wasn’t there 10 minutes before they came out with a $1200 bill for all these tests and procedures most of which had nothing to with what was wrong with the cat!

    In short, I asked them if he was going to be OK until I could get to my regular vet and I was only going to pay for the basic examination and cleaning up the wounds. So I walked out of there with about a $80 bill. When I went to the vet the next day, they were able to fix his jaw for about $200…a far cry from the $1200 the other place wanted just for tests and observation.

  48. macinjosh says:

    Why didn’t Consumerist use that sleazy car dealer pic?

  49. sburnap42 says:

    We had a vet milk us for lots of cash while we propped up a cat who we later found out was a terminal condition. The poor cat was in misery for a year. Bitter? You betcha. Worse was that this vet misdiagnosed the condition when it would have been actually treatable.

    The practice had a number of vets. When we first started going there, our vet was great…but they got bought by some large company, she left and within a few years it seemed like it was more about $$ than the animals.

  50. acherusia says:

    @gruffydd: Check out Steve Mazzi if you’re by La Habra. My family in that area swears by him.

  51. MercuryPDX says:

    Heartworm is a serious issue for dogs, but it is NOT a nationwide problem. Obviously if you’re in an affected area (see map) you really should be treating your dog for it.

  52. bnorton says:

    What kind of software did they install on the dog to detect porn downloading? Er wait different story same result. These pieces are getting old. Don’t trust anyone with anything and if it seems fishy get a 2nd opinion. From car care to pet care.

  53. shadow735 says:

    phew I live in southern calif about 30 min from hollywood so heartworm isnt a big problem out here.

  54. bohemian says:

    One of the best ways to trip up the vets that purely want to sell you paw rotations and eyeball waxing treatments is to ask questions.

    If they plop down a huge list of tests they want to run ask them what each test is looking for. There are certain problems where running a ton of bloodwork is necessary. With older animals some will want to run lots of bloodwork before putting them under to make sure they don’t have something already wrong in the kidneys and liver since that can have complications like they can’t metabolize the anesthesia back out of their system and die. Sometimes lots of tests are called for sometimes it is simply a money ploy.

    A good vet will give you options if there are options such as a conservative treatment vs. aggressive treatment options.

    Another good option for a second opinion is a veterinary program at a big university. Most have more capability than a local vet, specialists and don’t have the agenda to fleece people for as much as possible.

  55. bohemian says:

    @MercuryPDX: What bothers me is certain entities involving Betty White shilling that you must have your pet on heartworm medication all year long.

    Unless something has changed drastically in the last decade that would not be so in the frozen north. Since heartworm is transmitted by mosquitos that are dead in the winter.

  56. jackelmatador says:

    So if anyone live in the North San Diego County area, we take our three dogs to Melrose Vet, and they are awesome! One of our dog has arthritis and needed some meds, so the vet ordered blood tests to make sure Rimadyl would be ok (very slight chance of causing liver problems). Then gave us the large bottle for cheaper than I could find anywhere on the Internet! Also she said he needs to lose at least 10 pounds so to bring him back in a few weeks and she will check him for free.

    I know a lot of people that go there and many have left other vets, because of getting ripped off. One prime example is a young dog I know at the dog park that always had a limp. The people took them to their vet several times with no solution, one trip to Melrose vet and they point to a problem in its shoulder clearly visible in the x-ray (they just used the old x-rays from the other vet did not force them to pay for new ones). Then instead of insisting expensive surgery, the vet says to try some meds firts, and viola the dog can now run without pain!

  57. SisterHavana says:

    @barty: Tell me about it! Last year my Welsh Terrier got bitten by a much larger dog at the dog park. Since my regular vet’s office was closed for the evening, I took him to the emergency vet about 20 minutes away. They sewed him up and put drains in and sent him home with an E-collar and medications. Total cost, about $800. When I took him to his regular vet to remove the drains a couple days later, she found that his wounds had gotten infected. He ended up staying there for almost a week and had to have his leg re-sewn and new drains put in. Total cost, including staying there: around $200. And he came through with flying colors. : )

    I really like my vet practice. It’s nowhere near the closest to my house, but the vets are really good and all the staff members know my dog by name. : )

  58. SplitCalyx says:

    I took my sick cat to the emergency vet, and after a bunch a tests and x-rays and biopsies, we decided to get a very expensive procedure done to remove a tumor.

    The tumor turned out to be non-cancerous, and we were happy, but the cat got sick again a few months later. Still hurting in the pocketbook, we took him to a regular vet that had Sunday hours that came recommended. He spent about five minutes carefully examining the cat, then ran a simple blood test.

    That vet said the cat had FIP, maybe a month left to live, and the only sensible options were palliative. He also seemed to think we got fleeced by the emergency docs, as he believed the FIP, and therefore the cat’s limited life expectancy, should’ve been diagnosed by the emergency vets.

    On the flip side, our dog was recommended for euthanasia four years ago, due to poor appetite, weight loss and partial paralysis. We took him home since he was still in good spirits, and we weren’t ready to say goodbye. He improved and is still bossing us around today! We think he had West Nile encephalitis.

    Long story short, stay away from 24 hour emergency vets. See if your vet actually spends time with your animal, if he does, that’s a good sign. And if the animal isn’t deathly ill, it can’t hurt to take a wait and see approach.

  59. MercuryPDX says:

    @bohemian: Yup. My 2nd vet gave me a year worth of pills and said it’s actually TWO years worth; give them only from April to October. Normally she would not dispense them, but we lived close enough to a small lake which could potentially cause a problem.

    We left the first vet I brought my dog to because he had anger issues, poor “bedside manner”, and responded to most questions I asked about treatment and follow-ups with “That’s a stupid question.”.

  60. MercuryPDX says:

    @SplitCalyx: Before I boarded my dog for a week, I asked my vet to recommend a 24 hour clinic in case something happened after her office hours. She gave me her personal cell phone number to pass along, mentioning she would not trust either of the two 24 hour clinics with greyhound care. Now THAT is service.

  61. Bentpost says:

    Los Feliz Animal Hospital in Los Feliz, California. Consider yourself warned.

  62. gmanj says:

    @joeblevins:

    Amen to this. I went to a “network” dentist under my plan about 6 years ago, and the woman took 2 x-rays and announced she recommended 6 crowns (2 new, 4 replacement).

    The smell of BS was in the air so I went to my wife’s longtime dentist, absorbed the out of network costs, and outside of one obviously needed root canal, have been given a clean bill of health ever since.

    How-so-ever did those 6 teeth survive this long?? It’s a miracle!

  63. amoeba says:

    WOW! just wow! My little Shih Tzu has the same problem as the black French Bulldog. She Vomits once in a while. I took her to her Vet to find out her problem; he took x-rays and blood test, nothing in there, just a heartburn and I paid for a total of $200 bucks. After watching this investigation I feel Ripped off and considering to got a new Vet. I don’t know if I want to cry or I want to get upset…

  64. gmanj says:

    My sister works with an organization that does spay/neuter for low-income folks. She is a wellspring of information on how to take good care of a pet on a budget, as it’s the mission of that non-profit.

    If you have questions about pet care on a budget, you might also ask a local animal rescue agency.

  65. ironchef says:

    run if your vet recommends the rust proofing treatment.

  66. jacques says:

    @MercuryPDX:
    I had a horrid time trying to find good vet care for my greyhound. Found a pretty good one but it’s expensive. Having a much harder time finding a place that I trust to board him and my other dog. :(

  67. FishtownYo says:

    My beagle was bitten by a little dog at Penn Treaty Park in Philly. The dog’s chaperon scooped up the little guy, ran off and left me with $300 bill at U of Penn vet.

    All for the smallest of bites. I think it was used to subsidize the ivy league tuition.

  68. MercuryPDX says:

    @jacques: You may want to check out the GPA – [www.greyhoundpets.org]

  69. MercuryPDX says:

    (bah wasn’t finished.)
    Look up your local chapter and see who they recommend.

    Barring that, try the forums.: [greyhoundsmakegreatpets.com]

  70. scoosdad says:

    @MercuryPDX:

    NOT a nationwide problem

    What state on that map did not have at least a half dozen dots on it? Kinda looks nationwide to me (at least the lower 48 states shown).

    Serious problem, yes, but people shouldn’t risk their dog’s health just because they think they might be far enough away from one of those dots on a map.

  71. Oracle989 says:

    We like the vet we use, they’re good about reminding us when the dog’s due, take care of issues quickly, and have good service and pricing.

  72. Oracle989 says:

    @Oracle989: BTW, Greensboro, NC area, Sedgefield Animal Hospital, good people, had the family dog treated for a tumor a while ago, they spent a while on treatment (in a good, paying attention to the symptoms and the animal’s overall health kind of way) and were very good at giving us updates on his status. Again, good service, good vets.

  73. Sad, but not surprising. A lot of vets are paid on commission, which just seems so… wrong. I know a vet who actually recommends other vets to friends, since the office they work for charges so much.

    A good vet, like a good mechanic, is priceless!

  74. Dalinae says:

    @MDSasquatch: Mine gets crystals in his bladder unless he’s on a special diet. It’s not a problem that would in any possible universe be a cause in and of itself to put an animal down right away.

    My vets put in a catheter and let me take him home on antibiotics for about three days to flush out the crystals. Then the cath was removed and he stayed on antibiotics for a little more time and then he was put on the diet. If diets don’t work, there is a common operation to stretch out the urinary tract of male cats to the size of the female ones’, to try to prevent blockages. I can imagine it would be expensive in the States (my cat’s has surgery in the States and treatments in Eastern Europe and the price difference is unimaginable while the quality is comparable) but a little shopping around before the animal gets sick could save its life and thousands of dollars.

    Also, I’ve had a lot of dogs in my reasonably short life and German Shepherds (and many big breeds) often get blockages in that anal gland which have to be manually squeezed out. Just be thankful you haven’t had to do it yourself. Or haven’t had the vet shave over your dog’s tumor, cut it open and have you squeeze it out in front of the clinic while explaining about tumors to his interns. When you were 11. Finding a good vet is an art.

  75. TruthWillOut says:

    My two cents . . .

    Got a cat from a friend who was moving. The cat had had several bouts of rashes (Eosinophilic plaque) on his inner thighs. The vet would give him steroids — which made the cat hyper — until the rash would clear up; once the cat was off steroids, the rash would come back.

    So the vet tells me the only way to get rid of the rash completely is to permanently keep the cat on steroid treatments. Unfortunately, he adds, this will probably kill the cat within four years — in other words, his little feline life would be over by the time he was seven years old. Nice choices — steroids (angry cat, early death), or a permanent itchy rash (angry & uncomfortable cat, lesions, constant licking, etc.).

    What did I do? Did a little research, found out these rashes are often caused by food allergies, changed his diet, and VOILA! The rash disappeared. Permanently.

    We also found a new vet, who had a reputation in the community for being reliable. Unfortunately, he built an expensive new clinic a few years ago & is now more interested in selling you expensive services than actually caring for your pet. The last time we were there, they actually TOOK THE CAT INTO A BACK ROOM to give him his annual shots (apparently a new policy, according to the sign on the exam room wall). When I got the cat home he was so traumatised he was hyperventilating.

    Time to find yet another new vet . . . .

  76. IrisMR says:

    *Sighs* I’m not surprised. My own vet ripped me off once with a product that costs 70 bucks. After some research, using that Revolution thing for earmites was just overkill.

    And he didn’t even speak about the cheaper alternative. Now I’m more careful with him.

  77. alexiso says:

    I feel my vet is trustworthy, however I know they’re expensive to begin with. They do quality work and I’m leary to take my cats elsewhere. If anyone needs a vet recommendation in the PA – Beaver County area let me know!

  78. skwigger says:

    My girlfriend and I have our first dog. We went to the vet for his 2nd or 3rd round of shots and the vet spent well over an hour of our time (when we had plans that we were almost late to) to sell various ‘preventative’ medicines to us for our dog. After that, we decided to finish up his shots, get the little guy neutered, and be on our merry way.

    On the next visit, the vet choked our dog to the point that he pissed all over the table by sticking his finger down his throat because our dog didn’t like him looking in his mouth. Our dog was 6mo. old at the time, and just had his temperature checked rectally. You tell me if you would let someone look in your mouth after that. That was the last time we went to that vet. After to speaking with various other dog owners in our family, none of their dogs had their temperatures checked unless they were sick.

  79. @MDSasquatch: “In their defense, vets do a great service, and need to make money too; too bad the unkempt docs pollute the pool of quality animal docs”

    Yeah, part of the problem, according to my vet-aunt, is that profit margins have gotten thinner while training has gotten more expensive and malpractice premiums have SOARED. Used to be that owners who sued could only get the “replacement value” of the pet (i.e., treated as property), but now many states are allowing damages for emotional pain and loss and treating pets like family members.

    (I do think there are upsides to this, but it has made insurance suddenly ridiculous.)

    Since people pay for vet care out of pocket, there’s a much less-flexible ceiling to what they’re willing to pay (whereas with people health care, insurance masks costs quite effectively and keeps the ceiling very elastic), which limits how much rates can go up to cover increasing costs. This, combined with Americans’ ever-increasing spending on pets and regard for them as family members, inevitably leads bad apples to jack up prices for higher profits and to prey on people’s family-like concern for their pets.

  80. @nardo218: “Have you heard of replacing fillings?”

    Yes. Some people want them replaced for cosmetic reasons, sometimes with time they “pull away” from the tooth and can allow further decay below, sometimes newer materials are just so much better people want them replaced. And they can certainly wear down over time, just like regular teeth.

    I have a couple in the back I’ve discussed with my dentist. He thinks at some point I might want to have them replaced (one in particular is in there a little funny) but advised me to wait until it became an actual problem — and see what advances in technology came before then.

    But I’d definitely be suspicious if he were suddenly like, “Let’s replace $1500 worth of fairly recent fillings!”

  81. hexychick says:

    The vet’s office I go to is actually a hospital center as well and they are open for extended hours, have emergency phone lines, have a staff of rotating doctors, and genuinely caring assistants. While they are a few dollars more than other vets, I’ve never had any of them push anything on me or try to sell me anything. They lay it out straight for me. When my cat was having trouble they tol dme my options were a very expensive surgery that might extend her life 6 months or I could “let her live in peace until she shows signs of pain, then we recommend you have her put down”. I chose option B and when the time came they even sent a card to my house personally signed by the entire staff. When my dad’s dog started showing signs of allergic reactions, they flat out told me it’s easier to test small at home with changing food than to run a $300 allergy panel. Other vets pushed the allergy panel on right away as well as expensive foods and diets.

    Every one needs a good vet, a good mechanic, and a good dentist. I’ve been lucky with all 3 and will stay with each one as long as humanly possible.

  82. LAFrog says:

    When one considers what’s going on with people and the medical profession (everything from fad treatments to prescriptions to insurance issues), how can we be surprised by this? Any profession where there is money to be made in the exploitation of those without a voice attracts “professionals” without a conscience who are motivated by greed and devoid of ethics.

    Our pets can not inquire or object; they are at our mercy, and the mercy of who WE CHOOSE to care for them. Vets are no different than regular doctors when they recommend painful surgeries, expensive treatments, or provide terrifying diagnoses: WHY NOT GET SECOND AND EVEN THIRD OPINIONS? The way your vet reacts when you suggest getting a second opinion might be a good indication of their true professionalism.

    OUR ANIMALS ARE OUR RESPONSIBILITY, and with that responsibility comes an exquisite friendship. We owe it to them to be proactive, assertive and thorough before trusting their well-being to ANYONE.

  83. pkrieger says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: there are actually no states that award damages for pain and suffering for the loss of an animal. Several states have had bills on the issue, but they get killed when the politicians learn that it could cause the price of pet care to skyrocket, along with insurance for kennels etc.
    Awards for pain and suffering (also called “non-economic damages”) sound like a good idea at first glance, but turn out to be bad for animals in the long-run. If prices for treatment increase, less people will be able to afford them, and these dogs and cats will either be euthanased, abandoned, or will have illnesses and injuries go untreated.

  84. unklegwar says:

    @joeblevins: Vets don’t make the decision to euthanize, the pet owner does. So it’s not the vet that is driving up profits by deciding to treat.

    And to all you ignorants who complain about vet prices, take a second to think about a good vet facility. One with Xrays, and CTs, and specialists, and emergency care and 24 hour supportive care. You think all that is FREE? you think it doesn’t take years of training to learn how to diagnose a patient who CAN’T TALK TO YOU? You know what the tests are for? Because rover can’t say “I tripped in the yard and my ankle hurts”. It’s because owners don’t give a crap and wait wayyyyy too long to go to the vet, after which the animals condition has worsened an complicated.

    I get so damned sick of hearing stories about how vets “don’t care about the animals” and “only want to pump up their profits”. The hospital that takes care of my cat (and our now-passed dog) is staffed with incredibly passionate people who love every creature that comes thru the doors. They cry when their patients die, they ache when an owner is faced with the decision to euthanize.

    They charge $125 just to walk in (it’s a specialy facility), and it *IS* expensive, but they have to stay in business. The emergency vets, and nurses, and techs, and medication, and supplies, and equipment and neurologists and cardiologists, etc etc etc don’t COME FOR FREE. Yet, even tho a pet gets care comparable to a human, for a fraction of the price, people cry “profitmonger”.

    That’s the cry of the truly clueless.

  85. strathmeyer says:

    Wait… but I thought Banfield was evil with their monthly payment plans which don’t allow them to pad your bills

    /and don’t get me started on their “we actually care about your pets” attitude