Cheap Vet Fees

The Truth Behind Cheap Vet Fees

Why Best Practice can’t compete with Low Cost Vet Care

In these times when many budgets are tight it’s only natural to try and get the best price for anything we buy. Whether that be groceries, phone services, Clothing, Car repairs, Hairdressers, products, Insurance premiums or anything else – we all look to compare providers to make sure we get the best deal possible.

Getting the best deal on products of course is easy – especially if you can compare the item from one store with the price at another. Same product – different price. Why wouldn’t you buy from the store with the cheaper price. The products can be directly compared.

However – when it comes to “Services” – the comparison of a particular service offered by different service providers isn’t quite so clear. That’s because we now have some variables to consider.

Products vs Services – comparisons

Let’s take a mechanic for example. We all book our cars in for regular check ups and servicing because we don’t want them breaking down or causing accidents while we drive to work or drop the kids off at school. But do all mechanics charge the same amount for a Regular service? No they don’t. They might be similar or they could be substantially different. Does that Low Cost Veterinary Caremean you would always choose the cheapest?

Possibly not.

Now you’re probably going to compare Value instead.

Some things you are likely to consider include:

  • Is he / she a Good / experienced mechanic? Do they run a reputable business?
  • What parts / services / tests are included in the cost? Do they use good quality parts?
  • What are they going to be testing on my car? Have they got modern equipment to run those tests?
  • What will they be replacing during a standard service? Oil filters? Oil? Windscreen / brake fluids?
  • Do they offer some sort of after service guarantee?
  • Will they update the service log?
  • Will they give me an honest report of what things need to be done?

So – moving on to Veterinary Services, we’re in the same boat as the mechanics , the dentists, the electricians, the physiotherapists, the podiatrists, the hairdressers and all other businesses that make their money by providing services.

None of us work for free so labour costs will always be included. This means the differences in costs will be mostly due to all other things.

To show how costs can be lowered in a commonly compared service let’s use the Dog Spey procedure as an example

Our fee estimations for Dog desexing include:

  1. Pre-Anaesthetic blood tests – to check for any internal issues that could affect Anaesthesia safety
  2. Intravenous fluid therapy – to help maintain vital blood pressure and temperature throughout the procedure. Also helps them wake up more smoothly without feeling nauseous and dehydrated.

By removing these two items we have already reduced our fees by around $130.00

So where else can we save money?

  1. We can remove nurse supervision of your pet under Anaesthsia. (Save labour costs)
  2. We can buy cheaper Anaesthetic drugs. Save a few dollars.
  3. We can leave out pain relief medications included in the sedation beforehand. Save another few dollars.
  4. We can save on individually prepared sterile surgical instrument kits by sharing one kit among many patients or just disinfecting them instead. Save at least $20
  5. We can remove vital electronic monitoring of your pet which shows vital signs such a breathing rate, heart rate & blood pressure throughout the procedure
  6. We can remove the cost of vets wearing sterile gloves, masks and gowns which help minimise contamination of the open wound we create. Save another few dollars.
  7. We can save on pain medications by not giving any to send home with your dog after the procedure. Another few dollars
  8. We can use cheaper suture materials
  9. We can leave your dog to recover after the procedure without nurse supervision. Again save on labour costs.

If we did this – we would certainly become a good contender for the cheapest place to have your dog desexed.Cheap Vet Fees

The sad fact is that you – the pet owner doesn’t have a clue what happens behind the scenes.

None of what is listed above will be obvious to you when you pick up your dog after the procedure. You accept the fact your dog will be a little groggy and painful after the procedure – even when it doesn’t have to be that way.


You’re happy because you just got a good deal however – your dog pays the ultimate price through unnecessary suffering.

We are sorry if this all sounds a little harsh but there’s really no other way to get this point across. Too many times we hear people sing the praises of low cost providers saying how caring and compassionate they are simply because they are so cheap.

In our opinion – there’s nothing compassionate about cutting corners that directly impact the safety & welfare of the animal under veterinary care.

But what about Laws?

The only requirements for surgical procedures is that they are performed under Anaesthesia and in a clinic environment. The rest is optional and based on individual vet choices and how they want to position their practice in the marketplace.

Ultimately – the final choice is yours. You decide the level of care you want for your pet and what matters to you.

Just don’t expect those practices that invest in modern equipment, ongoing education for their employees and commit to providing to high standards of care for their patients to come in at the same prices as low cost centres.

Modified Spey Procedure for Dogs

Traditional Spey, Ovarioectomy (KeyholeSpey) or Hysterectomy?

The Traditional Spey Procedure for Dogs

The most commonly recognised and performed procedure to prevent breeding in female dogs is by the Traditional Spey method (ovario-hysterectomy) during which both ovaries and uterus are removed. Most dog speys performed in Veterinary clinics are done by this method however did you know other methods are available?

The Ovarioectomy (Keyhole) or Modified Spey Procedure

In this procedure only the Ovaries are removed using minimally invasive surgical techniques and equipment. (Also known as “Keyhole” Surgery.)

The uterus remains intact.

Without egg producing ovaries, your dog cannot become pregnant. And as with the other procedures whereby both ovaries and uterus are removed, your dog will no longer experience any heat cycles or attract males.

You may be wondering whether leaving the uterus intact may still place your dog at risk of uterine infection (Pyometra). This is unlikely as the main triggers for this condition are the hormone producing ovaries. Although this manifests itself in the uterus, Pyometra is an ovarian disease.

The “Modified Spey” is the preferred procedure in many European countries as an alternative to the traditional spey.

Instead of one large incision, two smaller incisions are made. Through one incision, a tiny camera is used to visualise the ovaries inside the body cavity. The special instruments are inserted through the second incision and the ovaries are carefully removed from inside the body cavity using the camera as a guide.

This method is less traumatic for your pet as the ovaries are removed from within the body without the need to tear them away from their attachments and bring them outside of the body as is done using the traditional spey method.

The benefits of this procedure vs Traditional Spey include:

  • Less internal trauma (Less ripping and pulling on internal structures) – less organ removal – less bruising.
  • Less chance of post operative internal bleeding.
  • Less post operative pain for your dog
  • Faster recovery time and healing
  • Smaller incision sites

Because this method requires advanced expertise and specialised equipment it does attract a higher fee.  We offer this method for all dogs aged 6 months or over on specific weekdays.
Our Recommendations for Ages to Spey Dogs

Although we can perform spey procedures in dogs from 6 months of age we recommend the following minimum ages (based on the fact we are removing the vital hormone producing ovaries):

  • Small breeds: From 8 months of age
  • Standard breeds: From 12 months of age
  • Giant Breeds: From 16 months of age.

Emerging Concerns about Removing Ovaries

There is a growing body of evidence which suggests that the hormone producing organs (Ovaries in females) are quite important to overall health and that by removing them will have a detrimental effect on other body systems.

This makes sense as organs systems are interdependent and by removing one will affect others. Maybe not immediately but certainly over time.Keyhole Spey Procedure for Dogs

Our Obligations as Integrative Veterinarians

We believe we have a moral obligation to our clients and patients to present both benefits and limitations of any procedure or medical treatment we provide. It is also our obligation to keep up to date with current research findings in order to assist our clients in making the best possible decisions for their pets.

Examples of Studies evidencing Some of the Potential issues:

Back in the 1990’s studies showed that dogs speyed or neutered before one year of age grew significantly taller than dogs not speyed / neutered until after puberty. And the earlier the spey / neuter procedure – the taller the dog.

Similar findings in Human studies discovered that estrogen promotes skeletal maturation and the gradual closure of growth plates.

Translation: – The hormone estrogen which is no longer produced in dogs which have had their hormone secreting tissue removed, plays a crucial role in bone growth and development. The failure of these growth plates to close result in abnormal structual growth patterns and bone structure.

Hip Dyslasia & Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) Injuries

Studies at U.S. Veterinary Universities show that both male and female dogs desexed at an early age were more prone to hip dysplasia and increased Cruciate Ligament rupture rates.

Bone Cancer

In a study of Rottweilers in 2002 it was found that desexed animals of that breed were significantly more likely to develop bone sarcoma that their intact counterparts.

The effect of speying and Canine Breast Cancer is a theory not a fact.

This is interesting.

Results of a U.K. Study published in 2012 in the “Journal of Small Animal Practice” were unable to validate the thory that early speying protects female dogs from mammary cancers.

Other Health Concerns

In addition to what’s already listed, there seem to be other reports and studies that point towards health concerns associated with the removal of hormone producing organs.

These include higher incidences of:

  • Hypthyroidism – (Especially in Golden Retrievers)
  • Various cancers including lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma and mast cell tumours.
  • Behavioural problems

So what does this mean for you – and Us?

First of all – we strongly recommend you do your own research with regards to this issue. Our role as veterinarians and animal advocates is to be alert to trends and current research and findings and bring them to your attention.

This article is NOT about whether to spay or not spay your dog.

It is about choices of methods to prevent unwanted breeding.

The time has come where we are no longer comforable in ignoring the growing body of evidence connecting the removal of endocrine secreting tissue with a variety of health problems in dogs.

We owe it to you – (our clients) and our patients to do only what is in your dog’s best interest and uphold the Hippocratic oath of “do no harm.”

As such, we will now be offering the option of Hysterectomy for Dogs for informed pet owners who are as committed to your dog’s long term health and vitality as we are.

What You need to Know if Choosing the Hysterectomy or Ovary Sparing Method of Sterilising Your Dog.

  1. Because the ovaries remain intact – your dog will still go through her normal heal cycles. This means she will still exhibit all the signs of being on heat and WILL BE ATTRACTIVE to MALES! She must not be allowed to mate with a dog. Removal of the uterus means she has been anatomically altered and may suffer from internal trauma if mating takes place.
  2. As with the Traditional Spey method – this procedure is irreversible. Once the uterus is removed pregnancy cannot ever occur.

This method of sterilising is not for everyone however, there is increasing demand for the “ovary sparing” method from a select group of dog owners in the community – in particular for their large breed dogs.

For large breed dogs you may want to consider the preventative Gastropexy at the same time to minimise the future risk of dangerous bloat.

We offer this procedure at our practice.

Find out More

If you are interested in The Modified Keyhole Spey OR Hysterectomy procedure as an alternative for your dog, please contact us via email

Information provided in the blog post has been sourced from:

Spey Fees – Cheap or Value for Money. What’s Your choice?

Why the Cheapest Option may Not be the Best Choice for Your Pet

Pet Desexing is probably the most “shopped for” service around despite the fact this procedure is far from simple and untraumatic for your pet.

Most clinics already generously discount this procedure to “encourage” desexing to help reduce the risk of producing unwanted litters of puppies and kittens but there is a limit as to how cheap you can be without compromising your pet’s health and wellbeing.

First of all you need to know that speying an animal is not simple “Snip and stitch” surgery. It’s highly invasive and traumatic surgery that needs the same care and attention as do similar abdominal procedures. Any compromises made can result the risk of infection, prolonged healing, unnecessary pain and discomfort for your pet.

While it’s fair to ask these procedure be done as cost effectively as possible to encourage desexing, it’s unreasonable to expect that this procedure is done so cheaply so as to risk an animal’s safety.

We find it quite unbelievable that people enquiring about desexing prices never ask what’s included in the price. There seems to be a mantra that “cheapest is best” and that what happens “behind the scenes” at all clinics is the same. Which is not true.

Let’s compare with [Similar Non – discounted] Abdominal Surgery

If your pet needed abdominal surgery – say to remove a foreign body, it would involve the following:

  1. Your pet would have a physical exam which includes checking heart and lung function
  2. Pre- Anaesthetic blood test would be taken to ensure that the organs responsible for removing the toxic by products of anaesthesia are healthy enough to do so.
  3. Your pet would be given sedation and pain relief prior to anaesthesia for smooth induction of gas anaesthesia.
  4. Anaesthetic monitoring equipment is used to monitor your pet throughout the procedure.
  5. A sterile surgical kit is prepared for your pet’s surgery. (Not shared amongst other patients)
  6. The vet uses sterile gloves and wears a sterile surgical gown and cap to minimise risk of contamination of the surgical site.
  7. A trained nurse is used to monitor your pet as well as assist the vet throughout the procedure.
  8. Fluid therapy is provided to maintain your pet’s hydration and blood pressure whilst under anaesthesia. (Anaesthetic drugs affect blood pressure and cause dehydration so fluid therapy is extremely valuable to your pet’s safety and recovery after surgery)
  9. Antibiotics and post surgery pain relief medications are provided as needed during and after the procedure.
  10. The patient is monitored in hospital until fully recovered from anaesthesia.

Fact: Spey prices are already discounted.

However when this already discounted service is discounted even further to get the sale – you really need to ask what’s being left out.

When Cheap is No Longer Cheap

  • When you end up having to take your pet to an emergency centre that night because she’s in so much pain you can’t bear to watch it.
  • When a six month old patient dies under anaesthesia due to undetected kidney disease because Pre-Anaesthetic blood tests were not performed. Yes this can happen!. Just recently we diagnosed kidney disease in a 6 month old patient by performing this test. This patient would most likely have died under anaesthesia if this problem had not been picked up before surgery. AND – she hasn’t been the only one!

Final Advice

Choose wisely and don’t fall for everything you see or hear on Social Media.

People make decisions based on different criteria.Too often these platforms are filled with advice to go here or there because you get the cheapest price.That’s fine if all you care about is price but we know most people change their mind very quickly once they find out more.

Get opinions from informed people – those who work in the profession and can provide factual information and those who share the same values about animal care you do.

The Case of the Howling Cat

“What’s wrong with my cat?”

“There’s something wrong with her legs. “She tries to get up but she only manages to stick get her bottom in the air…… and she’s making these loud meowing noises. Then she throws herself on the floor and rolls around.”

Hmmmm … “How old is your cat? “She’s 5 and a bit months old.”

Don’t worry I say – it sounds very much like your cat’s in season. Cats generally come into season around the 6 month mark however – it’s only a rough guide. Some reach sexual maturity sooner and others later.

So – what do you do? Put up with the plaintive yowling because she’s desperate to mate? Or settle down those rambunctious hormones by having her desexed?

Choose option 1 and you may be lucky to have her avoid pregnancy for now but – if not mated, you’ll be going through this every few weeks until she is mated.

Cat, unlike dogs, who come into season around twice a year, are difficult to contain when on heat. Just one escape from the house and a chance encounter with a waiting Tom will more than likely guarantee some extra fur babies in around 9 weeks time.

It’s one of the main reasons for the production of thousands of unwanted litters of kittens each year. Cats are prolific breeders.

The best action to take at this point is to have your cat desexed. Cats can be desexed when they’re on heat but do be prepared for the fees to be higher. We often recommend waiting until she’s gone off heat – around a week or so and then book her in for the procedure.

If she accidentally mates with a Tomcat during that time, don’t worry. Many cats are already pregnant by the time they are booked in for desexing. And desexing during early pregnancy won’t harm her in any way.Cat on Heat Flickr

Apart from preventing the birth of unwanted litters which then need to be rehomed, you’ll be doing your cat a great favour. She won’t have to put up with the stress of the raging hormones or risk being ravaged by preying Toms every time she ventures outside to play.

She’ll be much happier and contented when all these dramas are removed from her life. And, as for you – you don’t have to worry about all the responsibilities of finding good homes for an endless number of kittens she’d be bringing you each year.
Make an appointment to have your cat desexed today – for everyone’s sake.

Need to know more about what desexing involves? Read – “Our spey operation in cats and dogs

P.S. Written in an effort to prevent the dumping of thousands of unwanted cats and kittens in garbage bins, shelters and veterinary clinics everywhere.

Flickr image (c) kaibara87. Used under Creative Common Licence

Desexing – Not a “cure all” for unwanted behaviour

When people enquire about desexing, they often ask whether this procedure will help correct various unwanted behaviours.

Such as mounting, straying, excitability, fearfulness, digging, dominance, barking or aggression to people or other animals.

Desexing does not change your dog’s natural energy levels or correct learned habits. What is does do is remove your dog’s ability to reproduce and reduce those behaviours that are directly driven by hormonal urges.

Your dog’s behaviour is influenced through your leadership skills and the rules you set from the moment you welcome your new dog into your home.

A high energy dog will always be a high energy dog. It needs lots of stimulating activities and exercise to burn off energy and prevent it from being directed into unwanted activities.

A dominant dog will remain dominant until you teach it the correct way to behave around people and other animals.

The good news is that most dogs instinctively accept leadership and instructions from a strong and consistent leader.

If your dog is exhibiting unwanted behaviours – whether dangerous or just plain annoying, you need to get professional help.

While desexing does has some influence over some behaviours – it is not the solution to correcting behavioral problems caused through lack of leadership and structured physical and mental activities.