(PET CARE/OP-ED) As an animal lover and pet parent, many times over, I’m privy to many stories about trips to see the veterinarian–some planned and others unexpected, some good, others not so much.

A porcupine. Photo Credit: Eduard Kyslynskyy
A porcupine may have as many as 30,000 quills. Photo Credit: Shutterstock, Eduard Kyslynskyy

For the latter of both, I once had a dog who got into an argument with a porcupine and came out on the short end of the stick, or should I say quill.

The poor pooch was covered with them, and it was obvious that she attempted to bite or pick up the little rodent since there were many of the mildly poisonous prickly points inside of her mouth.

It was a rainy Sunday afternoon, so an emergency trip to an unknown vet was in order. Since it was over the weekend, an associative crisis cost was tacked onto the event and I remember it was a pretty hefty fee, although I don’t recall the exact amount (it was a long time ago).

When I went to pick up my dog very late on following day, the veterinarian boasted about the number of quills he had removed and showed them to me in a small, metallic tray.

After examining the pile of quills, I noticed tiny amounts of blood on some of them that were still wet. This made me realize that the doctor had merely knocked my dog out and waited until very late the following day to perform the extractions. I didn’t speak up about it. I simply paid the bill, took my dog home, and suffice to say, I never darkened his door again.

But this begs the question, just exactly what was that extra-enormous emergency fee for? I assumed (you know what happens when you assume things) that it was for the rendering of emergency services, not for the doctor to open up his office for about fifteen minutes on a Sunday. Sadly, stories like these are not that uncommon when it comes to our pet’s practitioner.

Malpractice in Medications

One of the biggest ways that veterinarians overcharge their clients is through the cost of prescription medications. The average markup for common medications like flea and tick control is around 100 percent, while some specialty medications can run upwards of 250 percent or more.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock, David Mzareulyan
Vets mark-up many common medications, like flea and tick control, by at least 100 percent. Photo Credit: Shutterstock, David Mzareulyan

Veterinarians claim these fees are for the stocking, dispensing, storage and other charges necessary for the handling of these medicines.

I’m sure a small fee for things like sales tax, shipping, and handling is in order, but these staggering amounts are simply unfair. Consumers can save a small fortune on these medications by comparing prices and shopping online.

For an added bonus, if you’ll be visiting the same website repeatedly, consider signing up for one of those membership rebate sites that offers cash back, discounts and other rewards.

Consumers should be more proactive when it comes to pet care and finding the right medical provider can be just as important for our four-legged friends as it is for their masters.

If your veterinarian has a problem with you filling your prescriptions elsewhere, perhaps, as it was in my case with the porcupine predicament, you should find a new one. If they’re happily gouging you for medicine, they could be overcharging you in other ways.

— Amber Kingsley, exclusive to Global Animal

Amber Kingsley is a freelance journalist and member of a pet enthusiast/animal lover group in her city of Santa Monica whom has donated countless hours supporting her local shelter within operations and outreach.