Consumer Reports calls on pet owners to shop around for veterinary care

Consumer Reports calls on pet owners to shop around for veterinary care

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Jul 05, 2011
By dvm360.com staff
National Report — Pet owners should price shop on veterinary care, according to a report from Consumer Reports.

Costs on pet food and veterinary care have risen 4 percent since 2008, which is “considerably faster than the rate of inflation,” the consumer group says in a new report titled Tame your pet costs.

In addition, the Consumer Reports National Research Center says that during the height of the recession Americans did not cut back on the amount of money spent on pets.

In fact, only 16 percent of Consumer Reports survey respondents said they had to cut back on the amount they spent on their dogs and cats.

The newest report tells pet owners to shop around when it comes to veterinary care and purchasing pet medications and flea-and-tick products.

"…It's difficult for consumers to gauge what constitutes a fair price for any of the hundreds of services their pet might require. The best time to comparison shop is when your pet needs a routine checkup, not when you're stressed out by a sick or injured animal."

The report also suggests pet owners gather standard prices for routine examinations from three or four veterinarians in their area. They should ask about costs associated with sick animal and emergency care, the report says.

"When possible, ask the emergency vet whether your pet can be treated the next day by its regular, probably less expensive vet. Get a written diagnosis and cost estimate of the treatment plan from the emergency vet, then use it to comparison shop." The report also counsels pet owners to shop around when it comes to filling prescriptions.

According to the research, about two-thirds of the respondents were purchasing these products through veterinarians. The report cites American Animal Hospital Association data on mark-ups that can be as high as 100 percent, plus a dispensing fee. Another survey conducted by LHK Partners showed marks-up of 567 percent on commonly prescribed veterinary drugs like prednisone, 800 percent for tramadol and even 1,019 percent for amoxicillin.