Vet with dog

Fido has an ear infection. Time to go to the vet for a quick cleaning, antibiotics and your four-legged sidekick should be back to his normal self in no time. Right? Wrong.

When good vets go bad

Instead, your furry friend gets taken to the "back" for additional testing while the caring doctor hands you an estimate large enough to rival your monthly mortgage payment. One of two things went very wrong: Either your pet took an unexpected turn for the worse or your vet is royally ripping you off. How can you tell the difference? Read on to find out if you're experiencing symptoms of a good vet gone bad.

Starts with fear

The visit starts out well. The vet tech is friendly and what do you know, she just happens to be training another vet tech who will be sitting in on your analysis. You sit down and discuss your pet's symptoms while they take Fido's temperature and vitals to report back to the vet. So far, everything seems normal and then... enter the veterinarian and her entourage. You're in the confines of a small room packed with pet professionals judging you as your pet hides under your chair awaiting his fate and instantly fear fills the air. As they begin to discuss their findings, you feel something is wrong, very wrong, and the fear increases. You sit through an agonizing list of "internal" problems your dog could potentially be at risk for before the vet finally gets to the outcome. Your dog has — wait for it — an ear infection (as you suspected). Take a deep breath, let it sink in and brace yourself for yet another agonizing list of tests, exams and blood work your vet wants to run on Fido for an often easily treatable problem.

Move on to guilt and degradation

Once the fear has subsided, the vet will slap you with guilt and insults. How very kind of her. Keep an ear out for condescending phrases and questions like, "let me tell you what you can do for your kid" or "do you ever take your pet to the groomer?" And in the presence of the entire staff. Ouch! At this point, the vet will count on the fact that you'd have to be a terrible pet parent to even think about leaving the establishment without taking care of Fido's many "life-threatening" issues.

The grand finale: Upsell and pay up

Naturally, you're second-guessing your skills as a pet parent, so you ask the vet for an estimate on the thyroid testing, blood work and a much-needed eyelid scraping (wait, I thought Fido had an ear infection?). Oh, and since she seems to think Fido has been deprived of proper grooming, throw in a shampoo session. Next thing you know, your fur-kid's upset stomach can only be cured by taking out a second mortgage to pay his vet bills. Consider yourself ripped off.

You guessed it; this is a firsthand account of a rip-off scam. Not all experiences will go exactly like this but the key takeaway rings true. Your vet should not make you feel uncomfortable, fearful or financially overextended. Yes, some treatments are expensive and taking your pet to the vet can be costly, but if your intuition tells you something doesn't feel right, follow it and get a second opinion.

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Tags: veterinarian


Comments on "How to tell if your vet is ripping you off"

James Durangos March 22, 2014 | 5:57 PM

I'm going to pipe up here and tell my story: 1) Bought a female adult cat from the local humane society. 2) Six weeks later, I take her in for vaccinations (as per instruction sheet from humane society). The problem is: the cat already received a vaccination booster before leaving the shelter and my Vet. knew this. It's printed right on the information sheets I was given. The Vet. should have informed me that vaccination boosters for ADULT cats are not necessary more than once per year. Heck, for indoor cats, many agree that once every 3 years is enough. At the time, I didn't know this, because I hadn't done my research. That's money flushed right down the drain. Just terrible. All I can suggest is: do your homework, join user groups on the internet and look for a Vet. you feel comfortable with. Also, since it's a business for them, you have to also take it seriously and call around for the rates you're most comfortable with. They will do whatever they can to tack on extra services/fees. They also never tell you what the rates are, if you don't ask. So be forward and ask. Every seemingly tiny test he/she performs, even if it's for 5 minutes of your time, can cost a lot of money. Oh, here's a quick tip: go buy some human grade diatomaceous earth for your dog or cat in the summer. Give it to them in their food: there's your de-wormer right there, with the exception of the heart worm (i.e. via mosquito bites). You'll still need to use Heart Guard or similar for heart worms. You can also rub it into their fur, which takes care of fleas,ticks & mites, administered via turkey baster or similar. Just be careful not to kick up the dust. Your call, but that's a natural alternative and a bit of a money saver. Once again - Human grade (not pool-grade) diatomaceous earth. Good luck - and next time you go to the Vet and they recommended this or that test - use your judgement and don't be afraid to say no thanks. Remember, they've got a business to run, utilities and Vet. technicians to pay for. They'll tack on extras if/whenever they can.

Debra McKinley January 22, 2014 | 4:26 PM

My husband and I took our dog Winston to a Vet that we have never been to. We travel and are staying in Oakley Ca. We thought our Winston might have a tick on him. Go in and wasn't a tick, but she came up with him having a something in his ear. Shane and I told her we would get back to her and she made us feel terrible about not doing this. payed them 5 hundred cash and left r dog there. Get a phone call and she can't do the proceedure because his platelets were at 78 and he was very sick dog and he could bleed out. six hundred and eighty dollars later she want us to get ex-rays for crytals in urin we decided to go get 2nd opinion. Shane told them what was going on the vet looked him over took some blood sent us home told us r dog was in good health. What can we do about this. Thank you Debra Mckinley

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