Vet bills for dogs and cats: Are they too high? (CBC Marketplace)



tonight on marketplace we bring in an undercover watchdog to watch what vets charge here that our four-legged sleuth helps us put that to the test so $7,400 this is quite a vet bill think you might be getting ding it doesn't make sense in our opinion to be testing every year I think that's some pretty poor taste if they're charging for stuff we don't need wait'll we reveal the top five ways you may be paying too much at the vet you'll be barking mad okay this isn't how a marketplace investigation normally begins a casting call for dogs hey let's see Daisy we're searching for an undercover agent with chops a pooch to help us test what it really costs to keep our pets healthy she pretty friendly and did we mention we're looking for number one not number two our pooch needs to be cool under pressure of course a real digger he loves today and willing to take on an assignment most dogs would be barking mad to accept lots of talent but which dog is it gonna be turns out there's a ringer in the crowd Marshall he's used to hard work as a show dog and he's taught Bulldog in Canada perfect his owner Tammy McAllister is game to Marshalls assignment to go undercover put 10 Toronto vets to the test to bring you in on the action we'll be tagging along anybody with hidden cameras rolling that's ready to go thanks there are over 14 million pets in Canada that's almost one in every other home and caring for them adds up to big bucks last year alone we spent more than six billion dollars yep with a be on our pets and in just over a decade the amount we spend at the van and on pet care has more than doubled and a lot of you told us some of those vet fees make you barking mad hi marketplace my name is Jocelyn and this is my dog Lynn this is my puppy baby this is amico this is my tralala god makes me mad is veterinarians overcharging for the services it was a very long list of charges that cost me almost four hundred and fifty dollars just over $600 steps in is gun winning another dog quality is impossible for us that's crazy expensive and I'm barking mad like you these owners admit they'll do just about anything for their pets and their vet bills from the past year prove it Joey's a pretty healthy pug but he rang up a bill of 646 dollars is that Naboth an average bill for you well most yeah the vet bill for chaos and mayhem more than $1,300 yes it can get up to that and even higher sometimes big dogs can mean even bigger bills $7,400 this is quite a vet bill this is good thing I have savings and there's something we spot on every one of these bills vaccines they're a big reason many of us take our pets to the vet so up first on our list of ways you may be paying too much of the vets vaccines marshals in fine form and ready to start digging for answers and this would be Marshall come on in please so we begin our test with two shots key to keeping our pets healthy rabies and one called D HPP we tell vets Marshalls up to date on both those shots so some say he's good to go so relaxing and so how long we go between vaccinations every times difference in dose for two years but others suggest we do them again today just to be safe so it would be the distemper that we would need to give today the corn dog vaccine distemper is due today and some say they give vaccines every year to get pets in the door we found that it we don't so that scene is just all told in our test six out of ten vets recommend giving Marshall a shot that day but does he really need them to get the upshot on all these shots we head to California land of Health and glamour and not just for people but there's no time for chilling out we've come to meet up with dr. Jeanne Dodds today she runs a greyhound rescue but she's a veterinarian and researcher who spent most of her career studying vaccines and how long they last and when it comes to those two key vaccines get this so your research has shown that a vaccination can last up to three years oh no much more than that seven to nine years is published but we tell her about those six out of ten vets who recommend giving Marshall a shot before he's due what goes through your mind when you hear that stat they're wrong totally wrong it's inappropriate and they need to get with the current policies and guidelines and had Marshall gotten those two vaccines that weren't due it would have added 40 dollars to our bill back at the dog park news of over vaccinating and overpaying doesn't sit well with these owners I think that's a pretty poor taste if they're charging for stuff we don't need you would have saved a hundred and forty one dollars on your bill just this year alone that's that would've been a nice savings that could have gone to their dog food for a month vets are sure in the doghouse on this one and we want to know why so we take Marshall for a walk to the nation's capital and the offices of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association where we meet up with President and veterinarian dr. Jim berry hi there I'm Erica Johnson I'm not complain ice to meet you Jim Barry this is Marshall hey buddy tell them about vets not following current guidelines the science is now clear that adult dogs only need those key vaccines once every three years but in our survey a number of vets still recommended that Marshall get those shots every year the data suggests three years but the individual decision depends on conversation between the veterinarian and the client why are pet owners being asked to pay every year for something that's not necessary if your veterinarian believes for whatever reason that the risks warrant doing a yearly vaccine as opposed to in every third year vaccine then that is appropriate up next our vets cashing in on your fears that might explain why your bills are adding on yes it does and Marshall stops at nothing for our next test boy we've hired a secret shopper of the four legged kind to go undercover at ten vets help us test if we're paying too much if you own a pet chances are you've been warned about heartworm we sure work so the heartworm from a mosquito yep a nasty parasite transferred through a mosquito bite we spot posters on heartworm and even though we tell vets Marshalls on a drug to prevent it I'll still bring up testing for the disease the other thing is he's a hard test generally what we recommend is every spring we do a heartworm test so that's next on our list our worm testing to find out just how big the risk of heartworm actually is we head to the University of Guelph to meet a guy with a fascination for worms Professor Andrew peregrine he's a leading expert on heartworm in Canada so how much of that is there in downtown Toronto where we visited our vets the risk is extremely low it's not zero but extremely low the risk is only 0.15 percent smaller than the odds of catching a ball at a major league game the risks even lower than that in most parts of the country but when we ask vets about those odds clear answers are equally hard to come by thank you the specific number I can tell you how effective is a heartwarming citation yes I got three or four cases a year not very many must've dose mistakes remember we told vets Marshalls on a medication to prevent heartworm and because it's highly effective our worm guy says in the opinion of the other experts and the other vet schools and myself it doesn't make sense in our opinion to be testing every year and we do hear that would you recommend so you have the heartworm test no but eight out of ten vets we visit tell us Marshall should be tested every year it's just and all that testing sure is big business we crunched the most recent numbers for Ontario alone in 2010 that's did more than two hundred eighty nine thousand tests for heartworm that adds up to almost 14 and a half million dollars pet owners shelled out we tell dr. Jim berry top dog at the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association when pet owners bring their animals in to see event they trust that what they're getting is the best information for their animal and for their pocketbook clients are more than welcome to ask why what is the recommendation based on the point is owners should be given choices and information before they're billed for things and I would argue that most most vets offer a lot of choice so do people know dogs on preventatives don't need yearly tests was just something that they did a routine test a routine test yes over the course of their lives you've spent four hundred and forty eight dollars on heartworm testing Wow Wow is right and had we gotten that heartworm testing it would have added about fifty dollars to our bill alright boy let's go next up as we put vets to the test our intrepid sleuths for a special appointment but this time he's in for some high-tech testing of his weight at a veterinary research center so we need to slide him in buckets like all the testing Marshalls signed up for it's perfectly safe but it does take a little adjusting to get them in place three minutes inside this body scanner we're all done and it's official Marshalls a pretty fit guy give or take a couple of pounds nine out of ten vets get that right he's a good wait okay um I mean he's solid pretty good cuz bulldozer are built like that so imagine our surprise when this vet tells us he's trying his giants hey he's overweight he's really ugly and her solution is something called metabolic dye which is really good it's a Brandon Hills diet here is prescription diet weight solution a new weight-loss program from a big pet food company that brings us to number three on our list the push on pet food well I ideas and a nurse and we're gonna measure him we're told the program will calculate how much weight Marshall has to lose by taking a few unusual measurements it's always different little marshals results be back in the waiting room his infos entered into the computer and voila so as I do it is 10 kilograms less than it is right 10 kilograms less would be nothing left of them yep you heard right Marshalls about 21 pounds overweight and to shed those pounds we're given instructions to feed Marshall a pricey food that boasts it's scientifically proven to help dogs lose weight made by Hills pet nutrition hmm the same company behind that measuring program the vet used to figure out Marshalls weight and that brand sure is popular we see it for sale in every vet clinic we visit makes us wonder is this vet's diagnosis about slimming Marshall down or pumping sales up to get the real skinny we fly in an expert on pet nutrition dr. Joseph barges is from the University of Tennessee he helped write guidelines on weight and nutrition for pets that vets across North America use at Tammy's house he checks Marshall load and shows us how a weight check at the vet should be done and so what we look at is from the side does he have any fat when he stand enough does he have any fat laying down you know kind of hanging underneath I can feel all those ribs even with all his wrinkles as a bulldog I can feel a spine his diagnosis I think if he lost around five to maybe ten pounds at most would probably put him at an ideal body condition and body weight long way from what we heard at the vet he's trying his Giants we show barges video of that exam he says it should have been handled differently since he suspects Marshall wasn't measured properly at the clinic and would have taken a step back and went something's wrong I don't think he's that overweight and yet the number that got spit out is a lot more than I would expect so we head back to the clinic to tell that vet dr. Karen Regan what we found and she agrees Marshall doesn't need to lose as much as she originally said do you regret letting us walk out the door with a diagnosis that he had 45.7% body fat he needed to lose so much weight he had to be on this dog food for so long I would regret if there was no follow-up with him certainly that is a fair amount and it wasn't as necessary but if he only needs to lose five pounds maybe ten does he need the expensive dog food that you were suggesting expensive dog food Wow we're not selling something that's not going to work we're going to be selling something that we know is going to benefit their pet it's kind of cost more because there's been a lot of research and work going into it true in their ads Hill says it has the science to back up their claims of proven weight loss Hill scientists first looked at how the genes associated with fat metabolism are expressed in overweight pets but when we asked to see those studies hils tells us they are not published yet and had we followed that advice to buy the pricey dog food it would have added three hundred and eighty two dollars to our bill coming up are you paying too much for a pet meds here the medication was 71 dollars in the u.s. $18.00 and does our undercover dog need to go under the knife so you would cut a piece of the eyelid out we're testing 10 vets revealing ways you could be saving on your next vet bill we chose Marshall for this test cuz overall he's a pretty healthy guy so far he's been prescribed unnecessary vaccines and heartworm testing but what happens to the bill when things go wrong with your pet's health up next on our list differing diagnosis Marshalls only health concern right now are dry eyes that require drops and while one vet misses that completely the other nine quickly focus in mutation on his eyes you notice that before that's a clown it's just cornea on the right side but their course of action depends on who you ask Oh Mia had a bit of like a scrub do you see how his eyelids are rolling in here we're told surgery may be needed you would cut the eyelid and make it so that it's thinner and doesn't roll into the eye at another clinic more talk of surgery didn't cut you and then they suggested a skin stealer yes so you would cut a piece of the eyelid out here he says we should try eyedrops first at this vet yet another diagnosis he's got what I called the stevia he suggests testing to know for sure and recommends an eye lubricant this is common bulldog territory hard to know what's needed in the end the majority of vets recommend tests and that we take Marshall to an eye specialist so we do sure enough all he has our dry eyes that require drops and the price tag for that brings us to our final item pet med markup testing the cost of drugs at that and this one here is an antibiotic those IMed sold to Tammy were a hundred and fifteen dollars pretty expensive when you're talking about just one dog but what about a whole brood of them as a breeder Tammy McCallister's figured out her own money-saving tricks we travel to a vet in Michigan that we know for a lot of our health testing and medication – including one for Marshalls eyes here the medication was 71 dollars for the same vial in the u.s. 18 dollars so add a medication price difference of fifty three dollars to our bill but you can save in Canada too with a prescription from the vet you can shop around just check out these prices cephalexin a popular antibiotic is about $44 at the vet we find it at the pharmacy for less than 25 we tell these dog owners how much they could be saving she spent four hundred and twelve dollars on antibiotics yes we found the same medications for a hundred and seventy dollars that's a savings of more than two hundred and forty dollars that one really hurts all told we get dinged with a lot of unnecessary charges for Marshall adding up to five hundred and twenty-five dollars back at the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Marshall maybe dozing but our findings sure are a wake-up call had we gone along with every unnecessary treatment that was recommended for him we would have been out hundreds of dollars that's a lot of money is that what people should expect at the vet you need to have very active conversations with your veterinarian we will find lots of ways to work with you to maximize the health of your pet and to minimize costs well if you don't want to take it lying down don't be barking mad ask your vet about 3-year vaccines if your pets on a drug to prevent heartworm consider whether he really needs the annual test regular vet checks are important but be sure to ask questions and shop around as for Marshalls owner Tammy McAllister it's been a real eye-opener for her too I didn't imagine there would be such a varying degree from vet to vet Riya disappointed at all yeah I was disappointed but the big question will he work with us again we are watchdog absolutely you

33 thoughts on “Vet bills for dogs and cats: Are they too high? (CBC Marketplace)

  1. A vet career can cost 145,000 to 250,000 USD. Vets charge what they need to to make a living and get all the medication, licenses for their practice etc. Specially in Toronto and big cities where cost of living is incredibly high. There are vets in the US that are low cost , but I would only use them for regular visits and maybe go to a specialist for other more serious matters. Judt like hospitals and human doctors and pharmacies over charge for meds.

  2. Moral of the story…do your research. The answers for almost any pet health question are all over the internet. And when you find a vet you trust, stick with them…

  3. california is the last place to go for advice its a libtard sh**t hole filled with granola twats whod vaccinate daily if they could!

  4. hmm thats weird, a vet says he doesnt like to over vaccinate but for humans its never enough! bizarro world!!!

  5. Some vets are ridiculously priced. I work with a girl who had to pay $150 for one dog to get a rabies shot (she said they charge a vet visit, too?). Just a rabies shot. I pay $150 for my two dogs to get all of their shots and wormer, no vet visit required or added onto my bill.

  6. I went to my vet, my bill was $175
    After a whole health check up and all his shop plus meds and i thought that was too much.
    Plus my vet told me my dog just need her vaccine every 3 years

  7. I remember in the past, about 30 years ago I had dogs that I never took to vet doctors. They lived to about 15, 20 years.

  8. My cat was seen at a brand new vet's office. All his equipment was brand new. His building g was brand new. We talked about how many years he would have to work to pay off all his loans to build it. At first, he charged me full price for the cat's strange medical affliction. I didn't mind the price because I understood the basics of starting a new medical business and how many years he was in college and those bills. Once it became apparent that my cat was not getting better, he stopped charging me for the every two days I had to bring my baby in. We finally discovered what was going on, and it was unfixable without major surgery which I would have had to get done at the nearby veterinary college. The surgery was also slated to be a 50/50 shot of ending the creeping paralysis. So, we had to end my poor baby's suffering. Not only did he provide that service for free, but he had a friend that kept a little pet cemetary on a hill, under a beautiful oak tree who offered to bury him. I got to visit him while I still lived there. Vets require real money to stay in business. So, get educated, and be proactive. If you are poor, go to the local poor people's clinic. Those vets are usually very cheap, but you have to wait in long lines.

  9. Ok but without insurance medical treatment for people would be this shocking too. Veterinarians are completely under appreciated and don't get insurance payouts like human doctors do. I'm not excusing charging for unnecessary treatments I'm just saying Veterinarians are just trying to stay afloat. It's a tough world out there when you don't have insurance companies helping insure that you get paid for your services.

  10. My old vet wanted to charge me 850 to neuter my dog, at that moment i knew they were only going to screw me no matter what i went in for.

  11. Vet Bills for Dogs and Cats. 22 plus minutes and no feline in sight. Just a poor in-bred dog which breeders and buyers think is cute: "Oh look! His eyelid is so heavy he can't see! LOL! Toots adorbs I create misery in little animals before they are born! LOL"
    NEXT!

  12. i feel like the journalists making this video completely ignore the fact that medicine is a practice not an exact science, and every doctor (vet) has different opinions in course of action and diagnosis.

  13. This video shows how one or more opinions can discredit other opinions based on the plot of the film. How many would love to deny a "plot" is relevant in this film's original publication is uncertain, but its interesting to see how many films were made with real cases of unconventional contractors as opposed to the sake of filming a video with small jobs. If i brought 15 women and men into a home for 5 business days, not including the time it takes for men and women to call the companies to schedule an appointment, means i need to make a video with whatever i get my hands on even though it doesnt mean much. Producers might work with large sums of money

  14. I like to meet Marshall you look like a good friend really good company with Marshall I guess Marshalls celebrity now

  15. My poor Boston Terrier BoBo was attacked by a German Shepherd ripping part of his lip off, showing gums and muscles. It was emergency so that added a little money but then they started to try sell us unnecessary thing but my mom refused it all the way. He's still a healthy boy.

  16. Heart worm tests are not required each year but we also test for tick born illness with the 4dx snap test, just saying. I’m a tech. I don’t make the big money. I love our clients and especially our patients. This video felt misleading in the opposite direction as well. The sales reps are making a lot of money and hyping things up but not all vets are trying to take everyone’s money. Maybe they should do a video on the pet store industry.

  17. That head vet guy sounds just like a politician!!
    He's just making excuses for the over charging, allowing it to continue!!

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