A recent report from the Wall Street Journal revealed the average United States household spent $665 on routine doctor and surgical visits for dogs in 2010. This amount, according to the American Pet Products Association, is up 47 percent from a decade ago. Ironically, expenditures for human health-care expenses rose 76.7 percent between 1999 and 2009, as reported by the United States Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
According to a survey conducted by Bayer Healthcare in 2011, 2,100 pet owners admitted a sense of “sticker shock” when visiting the veterinarian with their pet. Approximately 47 percent of dog owners admitted they would visit the vet more often if the prices were not so expensive. To retort that feeling, many vets are participating in third-party discount plans with a monthly fee attached. In turn, owners receive perks and discounts and treatment (e.g., unlimited office visits).
René Carlson, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, admitted vet prices have risen faster in the last ten years than the last 30, telling the Wall Street Journal, “Liability-wise, we now get in much more trouble if we’ve cut corners” on routine matters, she adds. That often translates into more X-rays, more blood work and other tests.
Banfield Pet Hospital chain, a unit of Mars, Incorporated, reports their “Optimum Wellness Plans” have increased 15 percent over the past five years. As part of the plan, pet owners pay between $17.95 and $49.95 per month. In return, they receive free office visits, vaccinations, heartworm tests, two comprehensive exams, annual blood work and in some cases dental cleaning, X-rays and other perks.