Friday, March 31, 2017

Saving Big Money With a Ball Point Pen

When a veterinarian submits a "prospective bill" before doing the work, look it over and see what you can cross out.

  1. Are you being double billed? It happens.
  2. Has the vet or vet tech tacked on procedures that you do not want, such as teeth cleaning? It happens. Teeth cleaning in dogs is almost never medically necessary. Dog teeth and human teeth are not the same for one simple reason: a dog is dead at age 15, not at age 80.
  3. Has the vet tacked on a bunch of expensive pre-anesthesia tests? If your dog is not old, is in fine health (other than perhaps a wound), and has done well with anesthesia before, consider skipping it.
  4. Is this vet trying to test for heartworm in a dog that is under 9 months of age? That's a scam or a mistake -- cross it out and consider changing vets.
  5. Is the vet anxious to sell you Rimadyl for pain? Cross it out and say you'll give the dog buffered children's aspirin in the proper dose instead.
  6. Is the vet trying to sell you year-round heartworm medication even though you have a real winter in your area? That's a scam -- cross it out.
  7. Is your veterinarian pushing annual vaccinations and "boosters?" Forget it; all vaccines after the first year are good for the life of the dog. Your vet knows this, or should. A rabies vaccine is the only one that needs to be renewed (for legal reasons) and then only every three years, and you do not need to get it done at the vet. The cheapest rabies tag in your community can be gotten from the local animal shelter.
  8. Has your new puppy been spayed or neutered? Ask to take it home that day. Some veterinarians are big on keeping pets overnight, but this is medically unnecessary and just another "tack on charge." In many cases, your dog will spend the night at the vets without an overnight attendant even being on duty. Why would you pay to leave your dog in a cage far from home with no one to even check up on it?
  9. Ask the vet for a prescription for a generic and get the prescription filled at WalMart or Costco for a few dollars. You can do this with a large number of pet medications, including antibiotics, and you can even get antibiotics without a prescription. If WalMart or Costco don't have the drug you are looking for, and you will need it for the life of the dog or cat, see if it can be ordered mail order. And yes, you can ask for a double-dose and split the pill for your dog, same as is done for humans.
  10. Are you kenneling your dog at the vets while on a short vacation? Just say NO to the "guilt" charges they will suggest adding -- nail trimming, baths, "vaccine boosters," and those "extra walks" that will either not be done or will be just a "once around" a 12-foot yard. A kennel is not a spa, and a short trip out of town is no reason for you to allow yourself to be gouged. Remember: the dog will be walked so the crate does not have to be cleaned and the dog washed (for free!).

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Caveat said...

I got a recent email from my new clinic suggesting that since heartworm season is over here, it's time for monthly - monthly! - worming with Interceptor.

You know,I've only wormed dogs a few times in my life because of tapeworm evidence due to the eating of mice. A shot of Droncet, in other words, which is cheap at about $15 (I know you'll think it's too expensive).

The email was basically a dire warning about dogs dropping parasites all over the house, on the furniture, etc.

This clinic has been excellent thus far (got my old Wiener dog off unnecessary meds he took fo 7 years, for example) so I'll let this one go as just running it up the flagpole.

Viatecio said...

Some thoughts/rebuttals:

2) Teeth cleaning, while most likely not a yearly need, actually IS necessary and estimates are done AFTER discussion and consent is given.

Many places also have a group code for the dental that includes hospitalization, cleaning/polishing, monitoring and drugs, all at a discount from what everything would normally cost when itemized out for a typical procedure. Some places also offer a percentage or dollar amount off THAT in February. If a mass removal is also involved, that is your "Add-on" charge; it is often more expensive to do a simple mass removal by itself (again, itemizing out all the services for the day) than it is to add it on to a dental cleaning, which already has a significant discount added in as a default.

The longer people wait on performing a dental when medically necessary actually increases the out-of-pocket cost since extractions may be needed--seriously, if you want to talk about COST, let's discuss the people who DO NOT WANT severely fractured teeth removed and are willing to pay for that root canal or worse, wish us to NOT EXTRACT that infected tooth because they just don't want the dog to lose teeth. It's honestly a better investment to keep the teeth clean in the first place and since most people are not going to care about (or even unaware of) how to do this at home, having the procedure done as often as necessary before the gingivitis becomes too bad is worth the trouble. For the little toy breed or brachycephalic mouths, that may be yearly. For the larger dogs, it should be every few years or ideally (as you preach) only a few times in their lifetime.

We have people coming to us regularly saying that their dog's mouth STINKS, but they are absolutely SHOCKED when we show them the state of the dog's mouth, which can range from the chunky tartar to draining pus or teeth that are so mobile as to only be held in place by the gingival tissue. I don't know why people just can't look themselves. It's sometimes a handling/training issue, but usually it's just one of ignorance and apathy ("BUT HE'S STILL EATING!") until it becomes OUR problem because we pointed out the reason for the stench and now fixing it is just TOO EXPENSIVE.

10) Most kennels do not add on charges. It is the PEOPLE asking for all the extras because the OWNER'S separation anxiety is such that the guilt THEY feel for leaving poor Fluffy out of the fun of vacation persuades them to ask for everything including the bedtime kiss. It's a sad state of the industry. People have forgotten that a kennel should be safe, secure, clean and well-managed; instead, the focus has become about comfort, interaction, "spoilage" and the giving of every single treat (owner-provided or otherwise) at a specified time in a certain manner or else Fluffy will go into a meltdown because that Greenie or frozen Kong wasn't DONE RIGHT on HIS SCHEDULE. If my basic per-night charge has to include CCTV, a carpeted "room" with a doggy "couch" and music piped in, forget it--I will go elsewhere to a real kennel. If someone is brazen enough to want all the extras and then some, then they can either go where it is provided or hire someone to stay at their house to care for their pets. Pets with certain medical/mobility needs also benefit from in-home petsitting as well as those who do not do well for whatever reasons in the kennel environment--but the cost of paying someone to do this vs the per-night charge of a kennel is also something to consider!

PBurns said...

I've got a whole post on teeth and the push for annual teeth cleaning. Its a scam, same as annual vaccines. I am not saying NEVER clean a dog's teeth, anymore than I am saying don't vaccinate.

I'm also not talking about boarding kennels; I'm talking about vet offices where front line vet personnel are told, instructed, and evaluated on how much nonsense they can up sell. This is the vet industry today -- overcrowded, often held in a partnership or a holding company where the bottom line is the bottom line. There's a reason Mars candy is now in the world of pets, and it's not because they care about Fido. The Journal of Veterinary Economics always makes for fascinating reading! :)