You Get What You Pay For

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Some people engage in comparison shopping for medical care for their dogs, the way you might compare prices for a retail item like an article of clothing. There are even listserves supplying information on which veterinarians in an area are least expensive.

Be very cautious about choosing veterinary care this way. As Tufts veterinarian Linda Ross, DVM, says, “in a lot of cases, you get what you pay for.” She gives the example of someone pricing a surgery at three different veterinary practices and getting three different amounts. The cheapest one may seem like the obvious choice but, she says, “the thing to know — and this may not always be easy to discern — is that the three practices may be providing three different levels of care. One practice may include preoperative care, better anesthesia equipment, more intensive monitoring, and more intensive pain management afterward. The lowest-price practice may not do all the preoperative lab tests, and so on.

“That may be fine for a dog who’s healthy, but perhaps not for one who has various health challenges. The owner needs to be aware that he might not be comparing apples to apples and has to do more than look at the bottom line when engaging in cost comparisons.”

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