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Isn't the cost of veterinary medicine out of sight and unreasonable? I mean, we're 'just' talking about animal care. I thought my doctor really cared and would go the extra mile for me.

The extent of care given to any animal is ultimately determined by its owner. Every pet owner has different ideas as to what is acceptable pet care. Veterinarians can only make their clients aware of the medical options that are available. Then, they guide owners in their choices regarding the most important health care options for their pets. The final decision and choices rest with the owner. Veterinarians are willing and do go the extra mile for pet owners, but owners should be prepared for the associated expenses and understand that the veterinarian should be compensated for his/her professional services and related expenses.

How much should I anticipate spending for veterinary care for a new puppy or kitten? On an annual basis thereafter?

Most puppies and kittens need basic health examinations, checks for parasites and vaccinations. Veterinary hospitals will provide general estimates by telephone. If you check with a few hospitals, you will see that fees for similar services do not vary that much. When requesting an estimate you need to be sure exactly what you are getting for the fees charged, and whether there are additional costs for any thing else.

What sort of education must a veterinarian have?

In order to earn a veterinary medical degree, a man or woman must generally complete at least six years of university education. This includes a minimum of two years of pre-veterinary university education and four years in a program of veterinary medicine.
A typical veterinary medical student spends about 4,000 hours in classroom, laboratory and clinical study. In many ways, a veterinarian’s education only begins with a degree. New scientific knowledge and techniques are constantly being developed and a veterinarian must keep his/her knowledge current by reading scientific journals and attending professional meetings, short courses and seminars.

Why can't veterinarians advise, diagnose and/or prescribe over the phone and save me a whole lot of time and money?

Not only is it unethical and illegal to prescribe for an animal that hasn’t been physically examined by a veterinarian, it is also impossible to come up with an accurate diagnosis and rational plan of treatment.
A veterinarian can’t make a diagnoses based on symptoms only as observed by an owner. The outward signs may be an indication of any number of internal causes with a wide variety of clinical treatments. A complete physical examination and other diagnostic tests are required to determine the cause of the symptoms and best course of treatment.

Does my pet have to get a full set of vaccinations to get a rabies certificate? What shot(s) are absolutely necessary for my dog/cat and how much do they cost?

To get a rabies certificate, only a rabies vaccination is needed. This law is in place to protect humans and animals from the spread of rabies. However, the vaccine cannot be administered without the animal * first having received a physical examination. It is in the best interest of your pet to get a routine check-up plus all the necessary vaccines as determined by your veterinarian to maintain your pet’s good health. There are many infectious diseases of animals, many of them fatal to your pet. The additional cost of the vaccines which prevent these diseases is often quite minimal. Administering vaccines is a safe, easy and cost effective way to prevent disease. We have material on the recommended vaccinations your pet needs, and would be happy to provide this to you.
* Except where exemptions have been granted.

I've heard that there may be pet health insurance available. Is my pet eligible and what is covered?

Third party health insurance is available for pets. As with human health insurance, different companies offer various levels of coverage which have a wide range of deductibles and premiums. There are also certain restrictions on which conditions, injuries and procedures are covered.