So, you think vet care is expensive?
The cost of veterinary care is sometimes thought to be expensive.
Certainly, compared to the tax-funded, ACC-subsidised human healthcare system it may seem so. But I can assure you that you won’t have the waiting times for surgery with veterinary care and you will get pretty much everything done in the same place, by people you know.
Compared to human healthcare, veterinary surgery and medicine is very good value for money. As a vet, I am of course biased. However, I do know the actual costs required to deliver this care. These costs are not much different than in human healthcare.
The medicines used in veterinary care actually cost more than those same ones used by doctors as we do not have Pharmac. Even the equivalent veterinary medicines, which by law we are obliged to use, cost more because of the smaller market.
When we perform a surgical operation on a 70kg dog, we can generally do it for about onetenth of the price a similar operation would cost to do on a human of the same size. And we do not give any less pain relief – possibly more because our patients can’t tell us exactly how much it hurts so we make sure they are well covered.
I had a fracture repaired in the United States last year that I broke while on holiday. Insurance covered it but it was $23,000. I didn’t even get to stay the night in hospital for that! I could have fixed a similar fracture myself in a dog for about $2000.
Much of the equipment we use is the same as in human hospitals.
From the anaesthetic machines, to the monitoring equipment, surgical instruments, x-rays and ultrasound machines. Plus we have dental machines, lab machines, IV pumps and much more. Our practice has nearly $200,000 of machines and equipment.
We, like human healthcare professionals, are highly trained. After five years of intensive training most veterinary graduates finish their degree courses with large debts. As very skilled individuals with huge life and death responsibilities they should be paid well for caring for the four-legged members of your family.
Given the costs of medicines, the equipment we use and the pay we need to give our veterinary staff veterinary care is efficient, high quality and excellent value for money.
Dr Ian Schraa is an experienced veterinarian and the owner of Rappaw Veterinary Care.
Animal surgery: Dr Schraa says veterinary surgery is value for money, compared to healthcare for human beings, with all the latest equipment used on animals.