Tough economic times trickle down to the animals.

In these tough economic times, people tend to keep what is called disposable income. For example, they will not go out to the movies, stay out of the malls, etc.

In the local paper today, there is an article discussing Heska’s laying off workers. Heska is a specialty veterinary manufacturing company in Loveland, Colorado. The article reports that the company is being hit hard by the economy, and veterinarians are reluctant to make large capital purchases during an economic downturn. An example of this would be buying one of their new in-house blood work machines.

This is a sad turn of events, but it happens every few years and is not surprising. When the economy is poor, people tend to not seek veterinary care for their animals as often as when the economy is good. Unfortunately, this impacts not only the veterinarian’s income, but also the health and well-being of animals.

Having a pet comes with a responsibility and a commitment to the animal that it receives the best care possible whether it is providing quality food to good veterinary care. This costs money. I have seen people “price shop” for deals in veterinary medicine. Clinics have “specials” or discounted services to attract business. Have you ever seen a physician do this? This month’s special: Hysterectomy. All-inclusive from anesthesia to hospital care. Call today to schedule. You get the picture. Did you ever call a doctor’s office to see if her office provides the best price for a service you need? Of course not. You go to the doctor because of reputation, recommendations from friends, or a referral from another doctor. Most people have insurance that will take care of the majority of the bill.

I had to take calls from price shoppers all the time. One time, a woman called to ask my price for spaying a cat. I always explained what is involved, so she would know why my prices were what they were. There really is a difference in care when higher fees are charged. At the end of this particular call, I gave my quote. The woman shouted angrily, “Oh my God, I found a place that charges twenty-five dollars.” Bam! She slammed the phone down. With my ears ringing, I wondered if the place she found uses clean instruments, or if the surgeon washes his hands.

I hope that you will be able to weather the current economic storm. It will pass eventually. Be creative to manage money besides skipping quality veterinary care for your animal friends.

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