Click below to listen to our Consumerpedia podcast episode on how to find a good vet and the pros and cons of pet health insurance.
You adopted a puppy during the pandemic, or you rescued your Aunt Suzie’s cat, Mumps, when she moved to Boca. No matter how a pet wandered into your life, you’ll need a good vet to help you care for it. To keep their tails wagging—and your finances and spirits from sagging—we’ve got tips and ratings of area practices to help you choose—and deal with—a veterinarian who will provide the care, service, and reasonable charges you want.
There’s a lot you can do to, um, vet a vet practice. For starters, look at the quality of its customer service and whether it has a convenient location and hours. But you can also check out many aspects of service critical to clinical quality of care. For example, you can evaluate how well a vet listens and communicates with you; the thoroughness of treatment and exams; and whether they provide sufficient and useful advice on preventing diseases, treatments you can administer on your own, and warning signs of problems.
Our Ratings Tables summarize the judgments of consumers on veterinary practices in the seven metro areas served by Checkbook. There is substantial variation: Some vets receive “superior” ratings on many aspects of care from at least 95 percent of their surveyed customers, while others receive “superior” ratings from fewer than 60 percent of theirs.
There are also big price differences. For example, to spay a seven-month-old 25-pound dog, our undercover shoppers were quoted fees ranging from $174 to $1,492 by veterinary practices in seven major metro areas. And to clean the teeth of a seven-year-old 65-pound dog, quoted fees ranged from $236 to $2,000. Fortunately, since many of the lowest-priced vets received very high ratings from their surveyed customers, you can save moolah without sacrificing the quality of your critter’s care.
Using a facility that charges low fees is just one way to control veterinary costs. Getting—and following—sound advice on prevention and pet care practices also reduces bills. And you certainly want to avoid pros who push unnecessary services that increase their income but provide little benefit to your cat, dog, hedgehog, or whatever.