Dr. Doris Calloway of Craig Road Animal Hospital in North West Las Vegas compares the cost of a procedure that she underwent and what she would have charged for the same procedure at Craig Road Animal Hospital. 

Dr. Calloway

By Doris Calloway, DVM

I recently had the bad luck of waking up with horrible back pain and a fever.  Knowing that something was very wrong and I needed to be seen immediately (despite it being a Saturday morning), I was forced to go to the Emergency Room.

I was diagnosed and treated for Pyelonephritis; an infection in the kidney.  Aside from a 3 hour wait time to be seen, my experience was fairly good…. Until I got the bill.  I also have the bad luck of having a very high deductible on my health insurance, which means I get all of my bills!

As a vet, I frequently have to work within a tight budget to treat a patient.  The cost of veterinary care for a beloved animal can be significant.  I also hear the occasional comment that treating a pet costs more than the client’s own health care.   Unfortunately,  human healthcare costing less is just an illusion – all healthcare is expensive.  Interestingly, when you take insurance out of the picture for both humans and animals, Veterinarians actually provide excellent care at a much lower cost that their human counterparts.

I’ve decided to show a price by price comparison of what my Pyelonephritis treatment costs and what it costs here, in Las Vegas, at Craig Road Animal Hospital. For the purposes of the comparison, I imagined a large dog who we will call “Fido” who is approximately the same weight as I am in an effort to compare apples to apples.  I was only hospitalized for about 8 hours, so I’ve compared the cost of 12 hours of hospitalization here at our hospital.

Dr. Calloway’s Cost Fido’s Cost
Exam Fee

$300.00

$42.00

Bloodwork (CBC, Chemistry, Electrolytes)

$935.00

$154.00

Blood Draw Fee

$36.00

$0.00

Urine Testing and Culture

$182.00

$141.00

X-Rays

Not performed

$176.00

Hospitalization/Hospital Admission

$1,771.00

$28.00

IV Catheter

Was placed by a nursing student- so I wasn’t charged

$37.00

Fluid Therapy

$20.00

$56.00

Antibiotic Injection (1 dose of equivalent drugs)

$659.00

$32.00

Pain Medication

Not given

$54.00

Oral Antibiotics

$101.96

$25.94

Recheck Fee

$101.00

$28.00

Total

$4,105.96

$773.94

There are few differences that I felt were important to include in the comparison.  The first one is x-rays.  I’m not really sure how my doctor determined I had an infection in my kidneys and not a kidney stone (or both), but the only way I know for sure is to perform some sort of imaging. An important thing to note is that in dogs urinary stones and infection tend to go hand in hand, so to not perform x-rays on Fido would actually be bad medicine.

The next big difference is pain medication.  I was in some of the most extreme pain I’ve ever been in, and I’ve given birth! Human physicians are very hesitant to give pain medications for some reason I can’t figure out. People and animals that are in extreme pain can have delayed healing, and therefore don’t do as well as patients whose pain is properly managed.  I feel that pain relief is an important part of the overall care of a patient – it’s just the right thing to do.

Human healthcare seems to cost less than veterinary healthcare because health insurance covers so much of the cost.  If Fido’s owner had a veterinary health insurance plan, especially one of the newer generation plans, such as those offered by Trupanion, Fido’s owner’s cost would have been even lower.   I encourage all of my clients to invest in health insurance for their pets.

As you can see from above, the cost that I, or one of my colleagues here at Craig Road Animal Hospital, would charge for equivalent treatment is significantly cheaper than the cost at the hospital that treated me. And Fido got more for his money than I did.

It seems Fido got a smokin’ deal!

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