FAQ’s

Thank you for your interest in The Animal Clinic! Below you can find a list of our most frequently asked questions. If you can't find the answer to the question you're looking for, please call us at (416) 868-1545. A client care specialist would be happy to speak with you!

About Our Animal Hospital

Why can’t my pet see the same veterinarian/veterinary technician each time we visit?

We make every effort to accommodate our clients’ requests. However, there may be circumstances that prevent a certain veterinary team member from being available during your pet’s visit. Scheduling conflicts, emergency situations, and vacation schedules all play a role in their availability. Please feel free to ask for a specific veterinarian or veterinary technician when you schedule your appointment, and we will do what we can facilitate your request. However, please be understanding if we can’t. All of our team members are skilled professionals who look forward to your pet’s visit.

Why is my veterinarian referring my pet to a specialist?

We want our patients to have the best possible outcome. This is why we sometimes make the decision to refer patients to veterinary specialists or specialty clinics when advanced training or equipment will be beneficial.

Our veterinarians make every effort to stay current and skilled in many aspects of animal health. However, board-certified specialists have extensive experience and training in a particular area of veterinary medicine or surgery. And specialty clinics and university-affiliated referral centres have specialized equipment to perform procedures that are not routinely undertaken by general practitioners.

Be assured that when we refer a patient to another hospital, we continue to stay involved with his or her care, consulting with the treating specialist and often providing any needed follow-up care and rehabilitation.

Can I call and have you fax a copy of my pet’s rabies certificate and proof of vaccinations to the kennel where my pet will be staying?

We’re happy to send copies of all required immunization records to your boarding, daycare, or training facility of choice. We can do so via email or fax, just provide us with this information and it’s as good as done!

What are your vaccination requirements for boarding?

We require that dogs be vaccinated against rabies, distemper, parvovirus, and Bordetella (kennel cough) and that cats have both their rabies and FVRCP (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia) vaccines.

 

Pets boarding at The Animal Clinic also must have received a dose of a parasite preventative recently (within the efficacy period of the dose, which is one month for most brands). This is to ensure that pets don't host fleas, ticks, or other parasites for the duration of their stay with us! By doing so, we can ensure the safety of your pets, other patients, and our staff.

If my pet’s problem doesn’t get better, can I get a refund for his/her veterinary care?

Unfortunately, we can’t offer refunds for veterinary care. Our fees cover the cost of examining, testing, diagnosing, and treating your pet.

Not all health problems have a straightforward solution. Some may be chronic, requiring a long-term management plan; others may be more difficult to diagnose or may involve several causes. A cure may not always be possible, and treatment may be ongoing. Your veterinary team will do everything they can to find answers and continue to help your pet.

I’m worried about my pet’s upcoming surgical procedure. What do you do to help ensure your patients’ safety during surgery?

To begin with, pets are only ever approved for surgery at the clinic after a full evaluation of their surgical risk. Once approved, we perform a comprehensive physical exam and pre-anesthetic testing prior to surgery and monitor your pet during surgery. Throughout the procedure, a veterinary technician will continually assess your pet’s heart and respiratory rate, blood pressure, and other vital signs to help prevent any anesthetic risk. After surgery, our surgical team continues to monitor.

I think my pet ate something that’s making him/her sick, and he/she has lost consciousness/is having seizures/trouble breathing. What should I do?

During normal business hours, bring your pet in immediately. Call us right before you leave or while you’re on your way to help us prepare for the situation.

If your pet gets sick outside our normal hours, take your pet immediately to an emergency veterinary clinic.

I think something’s wrong with my pet. Can I call you and have a veterinarian give me a diagnosis over the phone?

Veterinarians can’t diagnose over the phone. Besides being unethical and illegal, diagnosing by phone doesn’t allow veterinarians to physically examine a pet. A physical exam is necessary so your veterinarian can provide an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment. Treating a pet for the wrong disease or condition will cost more in the end and could be harmful or even deadly to your pet!

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we have implemented the use of phone and video chat consultations on a case-by-case basis. If you feel that a phone consultation is a viable choice for you and your pet (for example during a period of self-isolation due to COVID-19 exposure) we would be happy to further discuss the options available, just give us a call!

Why do you check my dog’s weight every time he/she comes in for a visit?

We keep track of your pet’s weight just like your doctor’s office keeps track of your height and weight each time you visit. Having an accurate and current measurement of your pet’s weight will help us ensure that we prescribe the right dose of preventives, medications, and any needed anesthetics. It can also help us notice any early clues to health concerns. In addition, a regular weigh-in can help you track and manage your pet’s weight.

I have a hard time controlling my pet in the lobby. Can I make arrangements so I can take him/her into the exam room right away when I arrive?

Of course! When you call to schedule your appointment, please let us know that you would prefer to wait in an exam room.

My pet is a handful. Can I pay my bill ahead of time or in the exam room so I don’t have to wait in the lobby after the exam is over?

Of course! When you call to schedule your appointment, please let us know that you would like to be billed in advance. We typically ask for a credit card and will send you a receipt at your request. Depending on what services or procedures we have provided your pet, we may need to add additional fees to your bill, but we will contact you to let you know if this is the case.

My pet is really well trained. Does he/she need to be on a leash/in a carrier when we visit the hospital?

For the safety and protection of all clients, patients, and veterinary team members, we require all pets to be on a leash or in a carrier when they arrive at our hospital. They must continue to be restrained while they are in the reception area and while traveling to and from the exam rooms. Your veterinarian or veterinary technician will let you know when it’s OK to let your pet off leash or out of his or her carrier.

There is often a lot going on at our hospital. Combine that with the unfamiliar surroundings and new animals, and any pet—even one that is well trained—might become uneasy or excited. We want you and your pet to have as pleasant an experience as possible every time you visit our hospital, so we ask all our clients to respect our policy.

I brought my pet to see the veterinarian for a problem, and my pet isn’t getting any better. What can I do?

Call us. Just like doctors, veterinarians sometimes need to try more than one treatment/medication to find the solution to cure or manage a pet’s condition. Please let us know if something we recommended or prescribed isn’t helping. We want to work with you to find the right answers for your pet.

Is it OK to call with questions about my pet’s health?

Although we can’t provide lengthy consultations or a diagnosis over the phone, we welcome questions from our clients. Please feel free to call or stop by anytime!

My pet needs to come in for a regular exam/minor procedure, but I don’t have time to wait at the hospital the whole time. Can I drop my pet off and pick him/her back up later in the day?

We are happy to offer drop-off appointments, just give us a call to arrange to drop your pet off on the morning of their appointment. We’ll have a staff member follow up after their appointment to let you know how it went and schedule a pick-up time at your convenience.

Do you offer any payment plans?

Unfortunately, we do not offer any payment plans at this time. We request that you pay for services provided at the time of your pet’s visit. If you have any questions about our payment policy, please feel free to ask.

We recommend that you include the cost of veterinary care in your annual expenses. However, we understand that this sometimes isn’t possible. If you contact us ahead of time, we can help you determine ways to keep costs down and stay within your budget. For instance, some preventive veterinary care can be spread out over several visits. Your veterinarian will work with you to come up with a cost-effective plan to keep your pet current on vaccinations and other necessary services.

We do accept major credit cards, as well as veterinary insurance plans, which can help cover many routine and emergency services.

What forms of payment do you accept?

We can accept any of the following payment methods:

Cash
Visa
MasterCard
American Express
Debit

We also accept most pet insurance plans.

What’s the best way to schedule an appointment?

To make an appointment with our animal hospital please call 416-868-1545 to book a convenient appointment time, or use our online appointment scheduler to request a date and time.

What do I do in the case of an emergency and your clinic isn’t open?

For After Hour Emergencies: VEC at 920 Yonge St. (entrance on McMurrich) 416-920-2002

What are your hours of operation?

Our regular business hours are:

Monday         7:30am – 6:00pm

Tuesday         7:30am – 6:00pm

Wednesday   7:30am – 6:00pm

Thursday       7:30am – 6:00pm

Friday            7:30am – 6:00pm

Saturday        8:00am – 2:00pm

Sunday          Closed

Our Veterinary Health Care FAQ's

Why does it cost so much to provide veterinary care for my pet?

The fees you pay for veterinary services take into consideration a number of factors, including the costs to compensate your veterinarian and veterinary team for their professional services and the expenses involved in maintaining the hospital and equipment. When someone decides to adopt a pet, they need to be prepared to include annual veterinary care in the overall cost of owning their pet.

Thanks to advances in veterinary medicine, pets are living longer, which means you may be spending more over the lifetime of your pet. However, in general, the annual cost of caring for a pet hasn’t increased much over the past several decades. (Consider how much the costs of many professional services, such as human healthcare, have risen over that same period!) Certain advanced procedures may come at a higher cost, but as the owner, you decide what care you want to provide your pet.

It may seem like you’re paying more for your pet’s care than for your own, but that perception may stem from the fact that you’re paying the entire cost of a service or procedure, rather than a percentage or set fee determined by an insurance company. If you want to save money on your pet’s care, there are several pet insurance plans available. These plans may cover or help keep costs down for many routine veterinary services, prescriptions, medical conditions, and diseases. Your veterinary hospital may also offer a third-party healthcare line of credit as an option. Be sure to ask at your hospital if they accept any of these plans.

What is a veterinary technician?

A veterinary technician is trained to assist veterinarians in caring for pets. These professionals perform many of the same tasks that a nurse would for a doctor. Our Registered Veterinary Technicians (RVTs) have received a thorough education and extensive training through accredited schools and placement opportunities, in addition to the experience they get on the job! Responsibilities vary among clinics, but the basic duties remain the same. For instance, technicians collect patient samples, perform lab tests, assist during patient exams and dental cleanings, and take x-rays. Senior techs also train and mentor other staff members. Some technicians work in research facilities or for manufacturers, too!

I’ve seen a lot of information about supplements and nutraceuticals. How do I know what my pet needs?

Supplements, and nutraceuticals in particular, are becoming very popular with pet owners. We understand that the information available online is plentiful and can be confusing. Your veterinarian can help you weed out conflicting information and advise you on any supplements your pet might benefit from!

Which pet food should I feed my dog/cat?

The answer is different for each pet, although many commercially available foods are fine to feed healthy dogs and cats. You can look for a nutritional adequacy statement from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), as well as the words “complete and balanced.” Pets’ nutritional needs do change, depending on their life stage and health. Your veterinarian can recommend a pet food, as well as give you advice on deciphering ingredient lists and determining how much to feed your pet.

I recently lost my pet, and I’m having trouble dealing with the loss. Where can I find help?

We understand that losing a pet can be extremely challenging, and that the grief felt may continue longer than expected. We have such a close bond with our pets, so letting go is never easy. While the process of coping with the loss of a pet is different for every owner, many veterinary hospitals offer grief counselling, as do some veterinary colleges and professional organizations. If you should find yourself in need of extra support following the loss of a pet, please reach out. We will do all we can to provide continued support throughout this difficult time.

My pet has the same thing wrong that he/she was just treated for. Can the veterinarian just prescribe the same medication that he/she did the last time?

Even though your pet may be showing the same symptoms as he or she did the last time, the problem may be different. Many diseases have similar symptoms, and your veterinarian needs to examine your pet to ensure that he or she correctly diagnoses the cause.

What toys/accessories are appropriate for my pet?

Many clinics offer veterinary-approved toys and accessories for pets! With all the options out there, sometimes it’s hard to figure out what’s safe. At The Animal Clinic, we’re happy to provide recommendations for toys and other lifestyle products based on your pet’s age, breed, needs, and interests.

My pet won’t stop chewing/digging/barking/scratching/spraying. Where can I find help?

Certain behaviours can be frustrating and difficult to overcome, and new or worsening behavioural challenges can come up for a variety of reasons. Your pet’s home environment, external or internal health issues (such as aches and pains), recent lifestyle changes, and more can all impact their behaviour!

It’s important during these times to remember to work as a team with your pet! Many veterinary hospitals offer behaviour counselling and obedience training. If you feel that your pet has begun acting inappropriately or is seemingly not themself, please give us a call so we can book a behavioural assessment and discuss next steps.

My pet needs to have surgery. Should I be worried about the anesthesia?

Modern anesthesia is generally quite safe. We perform a physical examination and run blood tests before all procedures requiring general anesthesia to make sure your pet doesn’t have any hidden health issues. In addition, throughout their surgical procedure, a veterinary technician monitors your pet’s vital signs to ensure their safety and to catch and treat any potential concerns as quickly as possible. While anesthesia and patient monitoring vary from clinic to clinic, you can find a comprehensive description of our pre-, during, and post-surgical best practices and procedures on our services page.

My pet’s just been diagnosed with a medical condition/disease I’m not familiar with, and I want to find out more about it. Where can I find information I can trust?

You can turn to the Pet Health Section of our website, which offers information on a wide variety of topics. In addition, many veterinary colleges and professional organizations offer excellent resources online. Your veterinarian can discuss your pet’s health in more detail.

Will microchipping hurt my pet?

Microchipping doesn’t hurt any more than a regular vaccine injection, which just feels like a quick pinch. When brought in for a microchip, a small area of skin is numbed before the chip is inserted at the back of the pet’s neck, where the skin is loose. Ideally, we like to microchip pets at a young age when they come in for their neuter or spay surgery, but microchipping can be done at any time! It is a safe and effective way to identify your pet and their owner in case he or she becomes lost.

After I have my pet microchipped, is there anything else I need to do?

You pet’s microchip should continue to function over your pet’s lifetime without any maintenance; however, the system won’t work unless you keep your contact information current. Whenever you move or change your phone number, make sure you update that information with your pet’s microchip manufacturer. Remember to also get your pet new ID tags at the same time.

Are natural remedies for flea/tick/heartworm prevention safe to use on my pet?

Although natural remedies may offer some protection or repellency against parasites, they are not nearly as effective as prescription products. In addition, natural remedies often need to be applied more frequently than once a month, making them less convenient as well. Some, such as garlic, may actually be harmful to your pet.

Just because a product has “natural” on its label doesn’t mean it’s safe. Consult with your veterinarian before using any over-the-counter preventives on your pet.

Why should I buy flea/tick/heartworm preventives from a veterinary hospital when there are other, cheaper places to get it?

If you purchase preventives from sources other than a veterinary hospital or a website affiliated with a veterinary hospital, you don’t have any guarantee that the product is veterinarian-recommended, authentic, or that it has been stored and shipped as recommended by the manufacturer. When you order from your veterinarian, you can rest assured that the product you go home with is safe and effective, with the added benefit of being able to rely on his or her expertise and knowledge of your pet’s medical history in order to determine which preventative is best for them.

I’ve never seen a flea or tick on my pet. Why should I bother putting my pet on preventives? Isn’t this an extra expense that’s just not worth paying for?

Fleas and ticks are not just minor nuisances; they can transmit serious and sometimes life-threatening diseases, some of which can be passed to people. Even indoor-only pets are at risk because fleas and ticks can hitch a ride inside on your clothing, shoes, or other pets. Keeping your pet on a monthly preventive is your best bet for protecting your pet—and your family—against these parasites.

I’ve heard that some clinics offer anesthesia-free dentistry. Is this safe for my pet?

It is not safe, and it is illegal for anyone (including veterinarians) to offer anesthesia-free dentistry in Ontario.

Why does my pet need dental care?

Dental health is just as important for dogs and cats as it is for people. Bacteria and food debris accumulate around the teeth and, if left unchecked, will lead to deterioration of the soft tissue and bone surrounding the teeth. This decay can result in irreversible periodontal disease, tooth loss, and expensive oral surgery. Bacteria can also cause serious, potentially fatal infections in your pet’s kidneys, liver, lungs, and heart.

How can my puppy/kitten have worms? How was he/she exposed?

Almost all puppies are born with intestinal parasites, which are passed from mother to pup during pregnancy. Although kittens are not infected when they’re born, they can become infected through their mother’s milk. Puppies can also become infected while they’re nursing.

Puppies and kittens should both be dewormed every 2 weeks, starting at about 2 weeks of age for puppies and 3 weeks of age for kittens. After the biweekly series of dewormings is finished, monthly deworming should begin (at about 8 to 9 weeks of age for kittens and 12 weeks of age for puppies).

Why does heartworm treatment cost so much?

Many factors affect the cost associated with treating heartworm infection, including diagnostic testing, hospitalization, medication, and office visits. Preventing heartworm is much less expensive, which is why most veterinarians recommend that you keep your pet on heartworm prevention year-round.

I’ve been late several times when giving my pet a heartworm preventive. Should I be concerned?

Unfortunately, if you were late or missed a dose even once, your pet could have become infected if they were exposed during that time. Call your veterinarian, and explain the situation. Depending on how many doses have been late, he or she may recommend that you have your pet tested for heartworm infection, then put your pet on a regular preventive schedule. Because heartworms need to be 5 - 7 months old to be detected, you should also have your pet retested in 7 months, as recommended by the American Heartworm Society.

Why does my dog/cat need to have a blood test before starting heartworm medication?

Your pet should be tested for heartworm infection before he or she is placed on a preventive to avoid any harmful or possibly fatal complications. For instance, if a heartworm-infected dog is started on a monthly preventive, immature heartworms (called microfilariae) can die suddenly, causing a serious, shock-type reaction. In addition, preventives won’t kill adult heartworms, so an infected dog needs to be started on a treatment plan.

My cat doesn’t go outside. Why should I put him/her on a heartworm/flea/tick preventive?

Just because your cat doesn’t venture outdoors doesn’t mean outdoor parasites can’t get inside. Mosquitoes transmit heartworm disease, and as you probably know, mosquitoes always seem to find a way to get inside your home. Plus, fleas and ticks can both hitch a ride on clothing, so every time you come back into the house, you could potentially be bringing these parasites in with you.

Although you can’t always protect your pet from coming in contact with these parasites, you can help protect him or her from the diseases they can transmit. If you’d like to provide your cat with parasite prevention, please call us to discuss the benefits of preventives!

Can’t I just give my dog/cat a Tylenol or Advil to help with pain, rather than paying for more costly veterinary pain medication?

Never give your pet medication intended for people unless your veterinarian has prescribed it. Most over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), can have serious, potentially fatal consequences if a pet ingests them.

What should I expect during my pet’s wellness exam?

During your pet’s wellness exam, your veterinarian will take your pet’s history and perform a thorough physical examination. He or she will also give your pet appropriate vaccinations and perform a diagnostic workup, which may include blood, fecal, and urine tests to check for parasites and underlying diseases. Your veterinarian will prescribe preventives and may recommend dental work or other follow-up care. The specific services provided during the exam will vary depending on your pet’s age. You can help by letting your veterinarian know if you’ve noticed any unusual behaviour or physical changes in your pet. For a more detailed explanation of our consultation procedures, please visit our What To Expect page or give us a call!

Why should I bring my pet in for regular veterinary visits when he/she is healthy?

Unfortunately, we have not found a way to effectively communicate the intricacies of health concerns and the need for veterinary care with our pets quite yet. Since they can’t tell us when they feel unwell, it’s up to owners to provide them with frequent exams from a doctor. 

Pets can often face health issues internally that might not be immediately apparent to their owners, or can develop issues over a long period of time, making them hard to notice. As such, routine wellness exams are the best way to catch new or worsening problems, as well as prevent health concerns from coming up down the road.

When you consider the cost of prevention versus the cost of treating a disease or condition, you’ll find that treatment is often far more expensive. For example, parvovirus treatment can frequently cost 10 times more than a single parvovirus vaccination. When you keep your pet up-to-date on preventive care, you’ll know that your pet won’t have to suffer from a condition that could have been easily prevented!

What vaccinations does my dog/cat really need?

Your veterinarian will determine which vaccinations are appropriate for your dog or cat, based on individual factors, such as lifestyle and health status. Veterinarians commonly recommend that dogs be vaccinated against rabies, distemper, and parvovirus and that cats be vaccinated against rabies and panleukopenia (feline distemper). Additional vaccines, such as feline leukemia virus (FeLV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and Bordetella (kennel cough), are recommended based on your cat or dog’s risk.

Many of these diseases can be fatal to your pet. Preventing them is far easier and less expensive than treatment. If you would like more information on vaccines, ask your veterinarian.

Does my pet have to get a rabies vaccination?

In the City of Toronto, dogs, cats, and even ferrets over 3 months are required by law to be vaccinated against rabies. These laws help protect both pets and people from this deadly disease. Except in certain rare cases, a veterinarian must examine a pet before the vaccine is given.

Because of rabies laws, control and prevention programs, and pet owners’ cooperation, domesticated pets in North America rarely become infected with this disease. By keeping your pet up-to-date on their rabies vaccination, not only are you protecting your pet, but you’re also helping to eradicate rabies from the pet population in your community.

How hard is it to get into a veterinary program?

Getting into veterinary school is extremely competitive. Because veterinary programs have a limited number of positions to fill, not all students who apply get in. Those who hope to become a veterinarian must have high grades in their pre-veterinary studies. In addition, any real-world experience or additional years of college may be beneficial.

What education does a veterinarian need?

Most veterinary degrees require at least 6 years of study at the university level, including a minimum of 2 years of pre-veterinary education and 4 years in a veterinary medicine program. Veterinary students usually spend 4,000 hours or more in classroom, laboratory, and clinical study.

What is a veterinarian?

A veterinarian is a doctor who studies animal health; prevents, diagnoses, and treats diseases and health issues in animals; and helps protect the welfare of animals and people. Veterinarians are knowledgeable and well educated on many aspects of animal care and fulfill a range of roles across the private and public sectors. You can find veterinarians working at small animal clinics, emergency and specialty hospitals, universities, research facilities, pet food and drug manufacturing companies, and government organizations.

I’ve found a clinic that’s offering prices well below what other clinics are charging for veterinary care. Is this a good option if I don’t have much money to spend on my pet?

Just like human doctors, veterinarians are expected to meet minimum standards of care (as overseen by veterinary regulatory authorities). Thus, the quality of care your pet receives should not change based on the fees charged for services. However, if prices are lower at one clinic, you should ask for clarification about what the procedure or treatment includes. You may find differences in the level of care provided by that clinic.

Can I get health insurance for my pet? If so, what’s covered?

Several companies offer health insurance for dogs and cats (and other pets). These plans have premiums and deductibles, just like human health insurance plans, and the associated premiums and deductibles vary based on the level of coverage you select. Many routine services, such as office visits and diagnostic testing are covered, as well as prescriptions, procedures, and surgeries for a wide variety of diseases and conditions. However, there are restrictions and limits, as well as certain guidelines to follow, including making sure your pet receives regular preventive care. If you think that an insurance plan is right for your pet and their needs, get in touch! We can walk you through your insurance options and discuss what plan might work best for your pet specifically.

To learn more on your own about pet insurance, take a look at the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association's information.

My pet is injured/sick, and he/she needs to see a veterinarian. However, I can’t afford the office visit, much less treatment. What can I do?

Many veterinarians who see a pet on a regular basis are usually willing to work with the owner to come up with a payment plan. This is one of many reasons why it’s a good idea to keep up with your pet’s routine care. Owners whose pets don’t receive regular veterinary care will have a harder time finding a veterinarian who is willing to provide services without guaranteed payment. Contact your veterinary hospital, and ask if they offer any alternative payment options.

Why is veterinary care for my pet(s) so expensive? Sometimes I believe I’m spending more on my pet’s health care than on my own!

Relatively speaking, veterinary care is a great value! The cost of veterinary care has risen very little over the last 20 to 30 years, especially when compared to the cost of human health care or almost any other services.

Veterinary fees are a reflection of the costs of maintaining suitable facilities, equipment and support personnel to provide the level of care that is expected in animal medicine today. Remember, too, the original cost of the animal has no bearing on the cost of services delivered. Annual veterinary care is a cost that should be factored in to the decision to own a pet.

I just got a new puppy/kitten. How much will veterinary care cost during the first year? And how much should I expect to spend annually after that?

Puppies and kittens generally have the same health requirements: an initial veterinary visit that includes a physical exam, vaccinations, and tests for parasites. Follow-up visits include the rest of the puppy/kitten series of vaccinations, as well as treatment and preventives for parasites. Most veterinary hospitals can give you a basic estimate for these services, and most of the fees for these services shouldn’t vary significantly from hospital to hospital.

After their initial and follow-up visits, pets typically require annual examinations and vaccines. Pets with specific health concerns or chronic conditions may require further and more frequent care, resulting in a more costly bill. We recommend annual wellness exams, parasite prevention, and careful at-home monitoring of your pet’s health to help to reduce costs long-term!

Why do some veterinary hospitals charge such different prices for the same procedure(s)?

Each veterinary hospital sets its own fees. These fees are largely based on expenses, such as salaries, utilities, and rent, that all vary from one area to another. However, the services that are covered under the same procedure or treatment may also differ from clinic to clinic. Medications, medical techniques and products, anesthetics, and equipment can all affect the cost of services.

I recently found an injured stray dog/cat. I paid for the initial veterinary care and have notified animal control. The animal is living at my house, but I can’t afford any additional treatment or medication. What can I do?

Legally, once you decide to adopt or “take in” an animal, you become the owner. As the owner, you are responsible for the pet’s care. When you take in a stray, he or she may be injured and require veterinary care. Because the amount you pay for his or her care isn’t related to how you’ve acquired the pet, you need to carefully consider whether adopting a stray pet is a financially advisable decision. If you can’t afford the pet’s care, you have the option to relinquish the animal to a local humane society or shelter (although some shelters cannot guarantee that the pet will not be euthanized).

Veterinarians often come across such cases, and many of them will work out an arrangement for people who want to help the animal. However, make sure you tell the veterinarian the situation before he or she examines and treats the pet.

If you find a stray, you should also ask the veterinarian to check for a microchip to determine whether the animal has an owner.

Why should I have my pet spayed or neutered? Why are these procedures so expensive?

Spaying and neutering can have major benefits for your pet, including lowering or preventing the risk of several types of cancer and diseases which can be life-threatening. Your veterinarian can discuss these benefits with you. In addition, spaying and neutering help control the pet population by reducing the number of unwanted pets.

Spaying and neutering are surgical procedures that require your pet to be put under anesthesia. The cost of these procedures takes into account the anesthesia, your veterinary team’s time and expertise, monitoring, drapes, suture material, and hospitalization. Spaying or neutering your pet is much less expensive than feeding and caring for litters of unwanted puppies or kittens or dealing with potential pregnancy complications. Ironically (and unfortunately), unspayed and unneutered pets who have contracted illnesses associated with this will often need corrective surgery to ensure a continued long and healthy life!

Veterinary care seems way more expensive than it should be. Shouldn’t veterinarians go out of their way to help owners keep pet care expenses down?

As the owner, it’s up to you to decide how much money and care you’re going to put into your pet. Each pet owner has his or her own idea of what constitutes reasonable pet care. Your veterinarian recommends services, procedures, and preventive measures that he or she feels will benefit your pet. The owner makes the final decision as to what care to provide.

Veterinarians are certainly sympathetic to cost constraints, and we understand that the cost of taking care of a pet can sometimes seem overwhelming. We do all we can to ensure that owners are aware of the costs of their pet's care and to make those costs as manageable as possible. For instance, your veterinarian can often provide suggestions for how to stay within your budget, such as spreading out routine services. However, when someone decides to take on the responsibility of caring for a pet, he or she needs to be prepared for the expenses associated with veterinary care and to compensate veterinarians for their time and expertise.

My veterinarian says my pet’s office visit is going to cost several hundred dollars. I can’t afford to pay that much money at one time! Isn’t there some sort of veterinary payment plan?

Just like your doctor, dentist, and most other professional offices, veterinary facilities usually require payment in full at the time of service. You can call before routine visits and ask about the hospital’s payment policy, as well as any alternative payment methods. Most veterinary facilities accept major credit cards, and some also accept veterinary insurance plans.

If you would like help in preparing for pet care expenses, please give us a call. We will do our best to advise you on how much you can expect to spend on routine care for your pet, as well as how to prepare for emergency care. In addition, your veterinarian can help by spreading out preventive health care services over several visits.