Health care costs for your pet

Small animal - medical procedure - surgery

Having undergone years of university training to develop their professional knowledge and practical skills, veterinarians provide expert health care for all creatures great and small. With pet owners wanting the best care for their pet, there is a common misconception that vets are expensive, as the potential costs of veterinary care are balanced against the financial capabilities of the pet owner.

The veterinary profession is different from the human health profession in that the costs of human health care are subsidised by governments and private health insurance. In the veterinary profession, there are costs to owning a pet, just as with all areas of life, and the costs of treatment have to be paid by the pet owner. The extent of care given to any animal is determined ultimately by you, the pet’s owner, as every pet owner has different expectations around what is acceptable pet care.

Veterinarians are very aware that for most of us, the decision to spend money on a pet has to be balanced against the needs of the family as a whole. So vets will let you know about all the treatment options available to help you make the best health decisions for your pet, and ultimately it is up to you to decide what level of care you can afford.

Open communication between you and your vet will ensure you are aware of all the potential costs of particular treatment options, allowing you to make the best-informed decision for your pets health care.

Your vet is more than just your pet's 'GP'

Your local veterinarian is not only your pet’s GP, but also their surgeon, radiologist, dermatologist, neurologist, psychiatrist, oncologist and their pharmacist as well.

Veterinary practices are frequently local small businesses within your community, and each veterinarian sets their fees for service based on the nature and technique of the treatment involved, the expertise required to perform it as well as the cost of supplying the service.

Cost of running a vet practice

The costs of running a veterinary practice include staff salaries and ongoing training requirements for both the vets and the support staff - including the veterinary nurses, receptionists and animal care technicians. You might interact with some of these staff when you visit the clinic, and others may be busy working out the back in the treatment, hospital and pet boarding areas of the practice.

There are also costs for purchasing and maintaining specialised equipment, together with routine business overheads and costs involved in stocking a range of products and medications available on hand in the vet hospital, to treat and manage health conditions in a variety of pet species.

Veterinary staff will be able to discuss treatment options, cost estimates and payment options for your pet’s health care. As with all professional services, cost is just one factor when judging the service you receive, and you know that your veterinarian will always be committed to providing the best level of health care for your pet that your finances allow.

Consider pet insurance

Pet insurance is also a fantastic option available for pet owners to provide surety around the provision of health care for your pet. Like with any type of insurance, it pays to research the best insurance policy option that will suit you and your pet. Pet insurance can provide peace of mind for unexpected expenses together with assisting you to budget for your pet’s regular health care needs.

Mental wellbeing in the veterinary profession

For veterinarians, one of the biggest pressures of their work and often a significant contributor to veterinary mental health concerns, is dealing with the financial expectations of pet owners, and having to navigate between the costs of veterinary treatments, procedures and diagnostics, and what the pet owner can afford.

The Australian Veterinary Association is committed to supporting veterinarian’s mental health, such as through the provision of their VetHealth resources and other services. Pet owners can also make a difference too, such as in how you interact with your vet, and remembering, as the Love Your Pet Love Your Vet campaign highlights, that vets are compassionate people who are providing a professional service to help you and your pet within the everyday constraints of what’s practical, financially possible, and best for the animal’s health.