Personalized and Affordable Vet Care – Can a Girl Have Her Cake and Eat it Too?

This is a guest blog by April one of the front desk managers at Pet Camp.

In good times and bad we love our animals and we want what’s best for them. I know personally that my dog has his own credit card devoted to his needs. And let’s be real, their most expensive needs are veterinary care. I confess to spending way more money on my dog’s health care than my own (hint to Mark – maybe Pet Camp should buy me pet insurance in addition to health insurance). I will hesitate to go to the doctor for my persistent cough, but the second my puppy sneezes I am calling up the vet.

But is it wrong of me to want quality service for the amount I’m draining my bank account? I want to walk into the clinic and have the front desk coo over my perfect precious beast. When I book a check-up, I want the vet to actually check-up my dog. Not just the normal eyes, ears, heartbeat, temperature.  Look at his paws! Check his skin! Pat him down for lumps! I paid $60 and moved my schedule around to bring my dog in, this appointment better be longer than 10 minutes. I’m on the hunt for a new vet because of this very problem.

When I first started going to them years ago, I felt like a valued client. But lately it’s a wham, bam, thank you ma’am kind of relationship. I’m the proud new owner of a seven-month-old Irish Wolfhound. He’s not a common breed here in San Francisco. I knew what I was getting into when I got him and I am more than aware of the expenses of a new puppy. But I thought I had established a good relationship with my vet from my last dog. But I brought him in and the first thing I hear is ‘Oh he’s a big boy, vet bills will be high!’ Thank you for being so reassuring, Doc. I could practically see the dollar signs in her eyes.

Here’s an example: I remember with my last dog; they were so nice about making tech appointments for regular shots.   Not this puppy. All of his first year shots had to have an appointment tacked onto them (and puppy shots can’t be given all at once, both DHLP and Lepto have 2 rounds and Rabies is done after 6 months. That’s 4 vet appointments in 4 months!). They literally just saw him a few weeks ago! Nothing has changed (except that he’s grown bigger)! Why does he need another full physical? And I use the term ‘full’ lightly when the vet barely glanced at my pet, patted him once on the head and sent us on our way.

I think I’m a good client. I book appointments in advance. I show up early and wait. I feed my dog quality food and keep up on their parasite medications.

I could easily just go to a large, impersonal corporate owned practice (either the for profit or not for profit type) or get walk in vaccinations for under $20. But I want to give my neighborhood vet the business and I want my dog to have a relationship with them. But what incentive do I have to do this if they’re going to run up my bill every time and just rush me in and out?  I understand that veterinary care is a business and very much respect the investment veterinarians have made in their education and their practices.  In fact, my very dilemma is how to show that respect without feeling taken advantage of.

We all love our pets and want to do right by them, but the experts we turn to should do the same.  I firmly believe that having a quality relationship with a veterinarian is paramount to health of my puppy – but wonder if I’m getting that.  I would love to hear our clients’ experience with their family vets. Do you have a vet that will go above and beyond for your pet? Or do you have one that made an appointment with your wallet and not your pet?