Why Your Veterinarian Is Worth Every Penny

There are several questions that run through a pet owner’s mind when taking their pet to the vet:

  • “What could be wrong with my poor, sweet baby?”
  • “Do I need to pick up flea/tick medicine while I’m here?”
  • And of course… “How much is this going to cost?” 

While we all feel we are paying an arm and a leg for veterinary care, we rarely stop and think WHY the costs seem so high. I know my personal veterinarian isn’t living in a mansion or driving a brand-new luxury vehicle, so where is this money going?

Here are some things you probably didn’t think about when it comes to your vet:

  1. They receive just as much training and schooling as doctors practicing human medicine – and that’s expensive.

Veterinarians are required to have four years of undergrad education, four years of veterinary school and pass both national and state exams to practice, as well as take continuing education courses each year so they can stay on top of new developments in vet medicine, best practices and treatment options. And, that doesn’t include those veterinarians going into specialized veterinary practice.

All of this schooling and training comes at a cost. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the average student debt for veterinary students expecting to graduate is $151,672. This is quite a chunk of change considering the AVMA reported the starting salary of a veterinarian to be $45,575.

2.  It’s a very competitive field.

According to the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC), there are only 30 colleges of veterinary medicine in the U.S. Less than 50% of applicants actually get into veterinary school. The AAVMC says the veterinary profession has no trouble attracting animal lovers, but schools are looking for other characteristics in applicants, “They’re also looking for students who know how to run a business, communicate with clients, conduct research, and work in areas that the public doesn’t usually associate with veterinary medicine, such as biomedical research, food supply veterinary medicine, and public health.”

3.  They don’t do it for the money; they do it for the love of animals, medicine and science.

Veterinarians get into this field because of their love of animals, but practicing vets must also have a lot of love for medicine and science. Veterinarians must know the anatomy of cats, dogs, horses, cows, pigs, goats, sheep, birds, rabbits, reptiles and more. Not only do they need to know the anatomy of these species, they need to know basic care requirements, common behaviors, parasites and illnesses related to each species, and what type of medicines are available for treatment and how each react to these treatments.

4.  The cost of doing business.

The equipment available to the general veterinary practitioner to help him/her in treating and diagnosing their patients is more readily available, and in high demand, and often required, from clients. Everything from ultrasounds, surgical lasers, digital x-ray, dental x-ray machines, flexible endoscopy, anesthetic monitoring equipment, etc. is standard practice now days and those tools aren’t cheap.

We took a look at www.shopmedvet.com to see how much these items could rack up:

  • Ultrasound Machine:     $5,000 – $25,000
  • Digital X-ray:                       $41,000 – $70,000
  • Flexible Endoscopy:        $5,000 – $12,000
  • Surgical Laser:                    $4,000 – $16,000
  • Anesthesia Machine:     $2,000 – $7,000

So, as veterinary medicine continues to evolve and technology allows us to diagnose, treat, or even prevent illnesses in our pets, we will continue paying these high veterinary prices, which really aren’t that high when you look at the same type of care in human healthcare. Here in the U.S., we love our pets and will do almost anything to keep them alive and happy as long as possible.

Still unsure about paying for expensive veterinary care? Here are some tips to lower the cost of veterinary care:

  • Check local animal welfare or humane societies for low-cost clinics
  • Veterinary schools may run low-cost clinics for limited income clients
  • Pet insurance – get a quote from PetFirst Pet Insurance – which can reimburse up to 90% of veterinary expenses

15 thoughts on “Why Your Veterinarian Is Worth Every Penny

  1. Tara Allen

    Going to a veterinarian for your pet, I would agree is worth every penny. I like that vet’s are very trained and professional in treating your pets. Knowing that vet’s became a vet, because of their love of animals is very comforting.

  2. Braden Bills

    I think it’s important to make sure that you understand what it takes to be a vet. If you do, then you’ll realize that they really are worth every penny! It’s a very competitive field, and they spend a lot of money going to school for it. Thanks for sharing!

  3. James Bergman

    I have to admit that it makes sense that we need to pay our vets well. When my dog is sick I want to make sure he has the best chance of getting better. This means that I need to make sure I trust my vet and am willing to give them my support, and yes, pay them well.

    1. Kenneth Gladman

      I agree, I think they have to be well payed to do what they do. I know our pets are part of our family and many feel the same way. If they can help them get better, than I am all for it.

  4. Jeffrey Goodman

    I had no idea how much these machines were for what the vet does. I definitely feel tho that the vet is worth every penny. He has helped my puppy out a lot and made him feel better when he was sick. I treat my puppy like family.

  5. Charles Kemp

    I think it is interesting how frequently those three questions are asked. I think asking about cost is something that everyone wants to know. This is probably something that you would want to find out before you go to the vet’s office.

  6. emily bennette

    I like what you said about how the veterinarians do it because they love the animals. It might be smart to look for that first in a veterinarian. That seems to be a think that will be something that will put you and your pet at ease.

  7. Jessie Harrison

    It would be hard being a doctor for animals. Because it isn’t like they can just tell you what’s going on with them. You’d have to know how to run a series of tests and to be able to pick up on how the animals body is reacting. I can see why they do just as much schooling as a regular doctor.

  8. Kyle O'Ren

    I think it’s really cool that a veterinarian gets just as much training and schooling as a doctor. I have a friend who wants to be a veterinarian and I hope they are prepared for a lot of school. I’m glad Vets are trained so well to care for my pets.

  9. Brooke McAvoy

    It’s crazy that they receive as much training as a doctor. This is actually really comforting to know, because then I know that they will most likely be able to help my dog with whatever problems she has. It makes sense that it is a competitive field, I remember half of my kindergarten class wanted to be vets. Thank you for such a helpful article, I will now appreciate my own veterinarian more!

  10. Kendall Everett

    It’s interesting that you point out how equipment will cause higher prices for veterinary machine. It’s important to me that my pet gets the proper care he needs even if it means paying more for an ultrasound diagnosis. Asking the veterinary what equipment they have access to would help in deciding which veterinarian to go to.

  11. Kenneth Gladman

    I had no idea that veterinarians go through as much school as doctors. I have earned more respect for the field, that is a lot of schooling. I think it is valuable to have a professional that is well educated working on our pets.

  12. Kody Loveless

    It makes sense that you would want more than just an animal lover to be a vet. Just because you love animals does not mean you have what it takes to do medical work on them. It would take a very intelligent and driven person to be a good vet. I am happy to hear it is a competitive field.

  13. siaosi

    I am happy to hear that vets are worth every penny. I think it would be in my best interest to have my dog in the best health as possible. I think it would be nice as well to have my dog clean from everything.


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