Comparing Costs for Canine Surgery

30 Aug

My dog needed oral surgery. Instead of saying “okay, schedule the appointment” to the vet who recommended it, I picked up the phone and called several other vets to learn what they charged for the procedure. This led me to find someone who actually examined our dogs a couple times when they were younger, and who charged nearly half of what everyone else quoted. 10 minutes of phone calls and one complimentary dental consult saved me between $400 and $900.

But let me back up a bit.

I love pretty much everything about dog ownership except the most crucial part: vet visits. Going to the vet for annual vaccinations and exams stresses me out because, despite being doting dog parents, we didn’t socialize them well. Walking our dogs within sight of another dog is the equivalent of having your toddler throw an epic tantrum in the middle of the cereal aisle. It’s humiliating. What’s more, it feels like I’m being sold on a myriad of services and procedures every time I go. I say “no” to pretty much every offer slung at me, and each time I feel like a bad mother. No, I don’t want to sign up for your wellness plan. Hard pass on getting my dogs microchipped. No, I’m not interested in scheduling a dental cleaning.

Thankfully, we’ve been blessed with relatively healthy dogs. Despite my aversion to vet appointments, we’re diligent about staying up to date on vaccinations, providing healthy, expensive-as-hell food, and ensuring they get plenty of exercise. Actually, our neighbors are to be thanked for that last one: our house backs up to a walking path and several times a day, our dogs race back and forth bad-mouthing anyone who has the audacity to take a stroll.

During our most recent visit, the vet noticed that our dog Diego had two broken teeth. Both would need to be extracted, and the rest would need a thorough cleaning. The process for scheduling an appointment required a pre-surgery blood panel to ensure he could handle the anesthesia, among other things. Worst case, I was told the procedure could cost between $1,600 and $1,800, with a $50 discount if I scheduled within one month.

So there it was, a procedure I couldn’t say “no” to. I knew immediately that I should contact other vets to learn what they would charge for the procedure and what their process was. (The vet tech’s description of the anesthesia they use as “the same kind that killed Michael Jackson” may have factored into my decision to ask around.)

I called three other vets, including my hometown’s university teaching hospital. One provider said they couldn’t offer a quote until they examined my dog personally, for a fee of $55. The university hospital said they’d provide a more accurate quote once they evaluated my dog, but expected the procedure would cost anywhere from $1,300 to $1,800. The last one I called offered free dental consultations and was managed by someone I recognized as a former Banfield vet, who had actually seen my dogs a couple times when we used to take them there.

The consult went well and the vet made the same recommendation as everyone else I’d spoken to. His quote came in at just under $900. As thrilled as I was to have found a better price for the procedure, I knew I had to read reviews before I could commit. Luckily, both Yelp and Google featured four and five-star average reviews for the vet and the practice, and I felt confident in my selection.

It’s been three weeks since Diego’s surgery and we couldn’t be happier with the process. In fact, I plan to make this vet our permanent vet going forward. Everything leading up to the procedure was stressful as hell, but I’m glad I took the time to compare costs and do my research.

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