Why Has Pet Healthcare Gotten So Expensive?

There is much concern among pet owners and veterinarians alike regarding the rapid rise in the cost of pet medical care. The issue for all of us who have pet companions is obvious; can we afford the best care for our pets? Similarly, for those of us who work in the veterinary profession, we worry that clients we have known for many years, hesitate to come in when their four legged friends are sick. Delay of treatment can have a major impact on a patient’s recovery making this topic one of great concern.

What is the reason for this increase in medical costs for pets? There are actually multiple factors. First and probably foremost, the technology of providing care has enabled us to do so much more in the area of diagnostics and treatment. Ultrasound, Pet Laser Therapy, Endoscopy, Laboratory testing are all commonplace in veterinary hospitals today. Dental care for dogs and cats has become so sophisticated that dental x rays are now routine compared to the previous standard of care. Surgical and medical procedures are often adapted from human medicine and while providing an enhanced level of care, can come with a big price tag. We can do so much more for our patients but is this level of care affordable for most families? Many of us in the veterinary medical field are concerned that fewer and fewer of our patients will actually receive the quality of care that is now available.

Pet Health Insurance can be a huge benefit for the pet owner who has to deal with a catastrophic illness. We may boast about how the insurance company paid thousands of dollars to have our pet treated, much more than we paid to the company in premiums. Yes, it was great for the pet owner but the cost has to be borne somewhere. That somewhere is the pet owner. With the increasing prevalence of insured pets, veterinarians can provide more sophisticated service, knowing that the insurance companies will be covering the cost. More coverage, more third party pay and pet health insurance premiums increase. It is a cycle that has taken place in human medicine for years and now has crossed into the veterinary world.

In Part 2 we will look at what you, as a pet owner, can do in order to reduce your out of pocket expense without compromising your companion’s health.