Although Geoff Smoot’s opinion piece on Delmarvanow.com, “Cost of Veterinary Care is Out of Control,” provides some insight into the value of pet ownership for seniors, it also makes some unfair – and uneducated – generalizations about the value and cost of veterinary medical care for pets.
Pet ownership is a privilege, not a right, and comes with responsibilities – including proper veterinary care. No one better understands the value of the human-animal bond than veterinarians, but veterinarians are also small-business owners with considerable overhead invested in their education, facilities and equipment, inventory, staff, and continued training and education. Add to that the rising expectations of pet owners for advanced procedures and care, which demand additional equipment and training, and costs increase.
Veterinarians are extremely compassionate people who often give more than they can afford to give, but they do have to make a living. Many, if not all, veterinarians provide discounts for pet-owning seniors or are willing to work with the senior pet owner to keep costs manageable and allow long-term payment if necessary. A number of charities provide assistance for veterinary costs and other care of pets owned by seniors. Pet insurance offers additional protection, especially for unexpected emergencies and illnesses.
We take particular exception to Mr. Smoot’s accusation of veterinary incompetence. Veterinarians share pet owners’ frustration when a pet’s problem can’t easily be figured out and treated, but Mr. Smoot should consider that, unlike human patients, veterinary patients cannot tell their doctor where it hurts. Beyond a history and physical exam, additional diagnostic procedures are often necessary to provide an answer or, at least, to rule out some of the possible causes for the ailment.
For those seniors out there who have pets, we encourage you to talk to your veterinarian and discuss your financial limitations. If you cannot afford veterinary care for your beloved companion, there are options to help offset those costs.