Probably the most important factor in your pets care and related costs will be the veterinary clinic or hospital that you choose.
Overall, the quality of care is in direct proportion to the costs incurred. In other words, the more thorough the care and the higher the level of skill and technology available – the higher the cost of the care provided will be. Now this is not a bad thing – far from it. I don’t want you to get all concerned and seek out the cheapest veterinarian that you can find in your area. In the long run, this can actually cost you more money than expected. Our goal is to keep your costs to a minimum and understanding what to look for will help you do that.
Skills and training come with a price. You want the clinic that you choose to be the care giver of your pet to have ample of both. There are so many cases of health issues that get missed by less skilled veterinary staff that end up costing the pet owners far more money in the future. The clinic you choose should offer excellent service and skill for a reasonable price. Some clinics charge the same as everyone else – but don’t offer the level of skill and service. Other clinics charge more than the average because they feel they are offering premium care and service in the field. This may or may not be true depending on the clinic.
So, what do you look for to ensure you are going to get what you pay for?
Firstly, find out when your family or friends take their pets. Are they happy with the service? Are they comfortable with what they are usually charged for their pets care? Or, do they feel that the costs are beyond what they are receiving for care and education? Find out how often their veterinary team notices things that they had no idea about. How often are various tests recommended, and why? Do they feel they have ample time to discuss everything about their pets’ health with the veterinarian or staff, or do they often feel like just another number coming through the door?
Next, find out how many veterinarians work in the practice. What does each specialize or have a major focus in. Orthopedics? Liver/Kidney/Heart issues? Eye and Ear issues? Having various staff with different specialties is a great mix for your pet. Veterinarians generally discuss cases with their co-workers. Often times, someone will have diagnosed or treated the very same issue and will have a good knowledge of what worked well and what didn’t.
Ask for a tour of the facility. Most clinics are happy to give tours to new and potentially new clients in order to highlight their testing and diagnostic equipment. Things to look for include digital x-ray equipment, in-house blood and urine analyzing equipment, laser surgery, ultrasound, therapy lasers and equipment for testing eye pressure, eye injury, blood pressure, EKG and ECG and such. Clinics that invest in new technology show an interest in ensuring that their patients have access to the latest and best care. While the costs associated with these improvement and upgrades are higher, you as a pet owner won’t necessarily be paying more for vet services there since those costs are generally only billed to those who need them. For example, just because the clinic has a new ultrasound unit doesn’t necessarily mean everyone will be paying to support it – just those who use the service when needed.
Also, by having a tour you will get an “inside look” at the goings-on in the clinic. Is the facility clean? Does the place seem amply staffed? Are the staff members you encounter friendly? Is the waiting area full? if not, is it a slow time of day? Popular clinics generally have a steady flow of patients as appointments run every 15 or 20 minutes.
Find out if this clinic or hospital offers weekend appointments and how their after-hours emergency services are taken care of. Do they do their own emergencies or is this taken care of by a specialized emergency clinic somewhere else in town? Depending on the number of vet clinics in the area, they may rotate providing emergency services for each other. Many privately owned emergency clinics can be quite expensive for treatment and care.
Ask Questions! Find out how many staff are on looking after pets each day and what they do/ what their experience and qualifications are. Clinics that have well trained staff are worth the relatively small difference in cost of services.