According to the AVMA pet owners are cutting back on veterinary visits for their cats and dogs. The AVMA proposes economic hardship as a potential cause but clients cite the practice of upselling as the reason they cut back on trips to the veterinarian. Asking if you want "fries with that" doesn't obligate you to buy the fries but veterinary clients say they don't know if the fries are necessary. Veterinary customers are saying they feel pressured or even judged if they don't want to buy whatever a doctor suggests.
If you get the feeling you are being judged, ask your pet's doctor point blank, "Do you think it's substandard care if I don't opt for this treatment?" You may be surprised to find that your vet has no such concerns. It's her job to offer you all the options and your job to decide what to buy for your pet. Finding a clinic with staff members willing and able to talk to you about details, including cost, is important. When you trust your vet's medical opinion, use it to make good decisions about your pet's care. If you don't feel you understand available treatments, get a second opinion.
Here is an example. Some vet hospitals send a reminder each year to get vaccinations and others say every three years is more than enough. There are veterinarians recommending general anesthesia and dental scaling for all dogs every year. There are veterinarians who don't think this is necessary. The problem is, clients don't know who is right. Ask your vet to explain the pros and cons and if he says there are only pros, you may have a problem. All medical treatments have a down side and you need to know what it is to make the best decisions.
Another aspect to the cost of vet care is availability of new services; light therapy, acupuncture, new vaccines and pain treatments. You need a veterinarian who can reference the evidence about the effectiveness of your options as much as one who can tell you how much it will cost. A list of available treatments is not the same as a treatment plan that you understand.
Many vets now give an estimate which includes written instructions after an exam and before any treatment. Practices also may offer an HMO like Banfield, or accept third party insurance or use CareCredit instant loans. This really helps both the client and the doctor discuss item by item the best plan for care.