Having to take an unexpected trip to the vet feels a little like needing to go to the dentist, we know we will get a quality professional service to help fix the problem, but we may leave with our wallets a little, or a lot lighter.
In New Zealand we are fortunate to have access to government funded healthcare, so generally we are unaware of the true cost of our own medical and surgical care. Vet clinics, however, operate with no government subsidy yet provide a similar high standard, diverse range of professional medical services for our animals.
It can therefore be a shock to a new pet owner to discover the cost of their pet’s emergency surgery, tooth extraction or even routine desexing surgery. This is because there is little public knowledge about the amount of specialised work that occurs ‘behind the scenes’ once you’ve dropped your pet off at the vets for the day that contributes to that final bill.
Veterinarians are trained in multiple medical fields and on any given day might adopt a variety of roles including radiographer and interpreting X-rays, clinical pathologist and interpreting blood results, surgeon, anaesthetist, pharmacist, obstetrician and dermatologist just to name a few. This level of expertise often goes unnoticed and undervalued as we are used to receiving these services through our public health system for free.
All vet clinics rely on the use of expensive specialist machines, which like technology, are constantly evolving and updating. Radiography requires modern digital X-ray processors and portable ultrasound machines. In clinic blood testing machines provide a quick turnaround blood result and anaesthesia requires several machines and patient monitoring equipment to ensure a safe anaesthetic. Not to mention the range of surgical equipment required to perform many different procedures from a cesarean to orthopaedic fracture repairs. This level of medical care does come with a cost and it can be a challenge for an average household to forecast for unexpected bills like an emergency trip to the vets.
Luckily, we have a number of pet health insurance providers in NZ as the popularity of pet insurance is rapidly increasing. Insuring your pet’s health is not only a part of responsible pet ownership, but is an investment into their future and longevity. Often in veterinary medicine hard decisions are made when lack of finances put a halt on treatment or even lead to the decision to euthanase. Having insurance helps the vet to deliver the services that are required to save a life, as well as saving the bank balance from that untimely bill. For advice on pet insurance, please enquire with one of our friendly staff at Vetlife.
Dr Hillary Nicolson