Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Anatomy of an Estimate

Just because I find this all so perversely humorous, let's examine the "estimate" given to me by the vet (ahem, Veterinary Hospital, thank you very much).  Then I will get it out of my system and call them to negotiate.

Every aspect of this estimate gets a Low Amount and a High Amount.  But it could go higher.  It won't go lower.

Oral Treatment Level 1
$344.50 (can you imagine a Level 3?)
This includes:  examination, hospitalization, pre-anesthetic blood work to assure organ health, sedation and in-hospital pain control, intravenous catheter placement and fluid therapy, anesthesia and anesthesia monitoring, whole mouth digital x-rays to look for invisible disease under the gum line, digital photography, complete oral exam under general anesthesia which includes removal of plaque and tartar, ultrasonic scaling, sub-gingival scraping (root planing), polishing and application of Oravet, nursing care, charting and record keeping, recheck appointment 10-14 days after procedure to discuss follow-up home care.  Pain medication, antibiotics gift-wrapping and sealants to go home are additional.

There are plenty of disclaimers, which lead me to believe there will definitely be a High Amount.

Dental Nerve Block
$25.25 (both Low and High) is that per nerve?

Gas Anesthesia
Low $225
High $337.50 high is right!

Oral Surgery (per minute) per MINUTE?
Low (60 mins) $240
High (90 mins) $360
Note:  These are canines, notorious for long, difficult roots.  Let's just say "Ultra High" at 2 hours

Small Animal Medication
Low $25
High $50

Then there is the disclaimer, and the promise to pay the full amount at discharge.  Or else, what?  They keep your cat?  Claim your firstborn?  Have you thrown in jail?  I used to love this veterinary practice and have been going for years.  It's not close and it's not convenient.  But they have grown into an institution and I am no longer feeling the love.  They make you feel incredibly guilty because YOU have caused this problem through your utter neglect.  Never mind that this particular cat, although sweet-natured, is close to 20 pounds of muscle and nerve.  He hates to be confined, held too long, fiddled with, examined, captured, caged, driven, poked, and prodded.  If they think I will rassle him to the ground every other day to examine his teeth, they are sorely mistaken.  I do the best I can.  I am cursed with cats with bad dental health.

My approach is going to be:  How much is it for you to extract his two canines?  I want no polishing, scraping, planing, bows, glitter or whatever.  Then, after a reasonable amount of time - when he's had the space to forget the horrors of the Veterinary Hospital and I've had the time to regroup (again) my finances - we will have the Oral Treatment Level 1.

I'll probably have to sign something that states that I am a neglectful and evil cat mother.  Sigh.


  1. And here we were complaining about our dentist charging us $350 for hubby and my cleaning/xrays. I guess I 'll shut up now.

    Are you going to start brushing kitty teeth now?
    Dearie-I'm glad you can keep your sense of humor.............

  2. I am having the exact same problem with my vet. I have gone to him for 13 years and loved him. He always takes me right away, he is close, and keeps my animals healthy. But lately I noticed he is charging me double for some services and medicines. I know he says his business is bad since the economy took a nose dive, vet care is the first thing people give up. But geesh, I didnt leave him and deserve a little break since i have at least one sick animal there a month. When it cost our entire months income to pay a vet bill there is something really wrong. So I reallllllly feel for you on this one. I hope your cat has have a miracle mouth healing :)

  3. I would get a second opinion. Zsazsa had a major cleaning with scaling and the like and two teeth pulled of which one was a canine(yes she is our snaggletooth)not too long ago and I can't remember it being over 300 for the whole thing. Of course it was winter, when the vets around here are looking for things to do, but still. A second opinion or estimate from elsewhere couldn't hurt.

  4. I feel your pain, we are going through the same thing with an ER visit for a laceration for me. $1400!! THEY. HAVE. TO. BE. KIDDING!! About 45 minutes, no blood work, no X-Ray, and no sutures, just super glue, AND they did a crappy job! Grrr!
    I agreee with rugosarosa farm, a second opinion if possible!

  5. Although I'm a huge fan of pre-anesthesia bloodwork (I had to be working at a vet hospital, I've seen some issues), I would say to decline it if your pet is not truly geriatric, the age they want to do that gets earlier and earlier every year. Also, check into the SPCA! Marley came to us with some big dental issues and I actually had it done at the SPCA since they have a sliding fee scale based on income. My hospital estimate was 700-800 but the SPCA did the whole shebang including the bloodwork for $170. I hope you are able to find one, since not all SPCA's have the facilities. Thinking of you, I know this is hard when it's your family!

  6. hehe... my word verification was "refunde".... maybe there's a nice one coming your way!!

  7. My mouth is hanging open. Seems as though animal medical care has gone the way of human medical care. When will this ridiculousness stop? Don't the health care professionals know people are just going to be forced to stop seeking care? Both for us humans AND animals. I'm with Jane and am praying for a miracle mouth healing for your dear 20 pound kitty.

  8. I know what you mean about veterinary care. If they start pushing insurance for animal care, costs will really go through the roof. I'd go with a second opinion as well, and opt for minimal services.

  9. OMG! That seems insane! Not sure the whole story behind your kitty's teeth, but honestly, I've never brushed any of my cat's teeth and none of them ever had complications, one was 15 when she left this world and the other older one is 14 now. I know it's not much help to you now, but don't feel like the evil cat abuser. If anyone is abusing anyone, it's the vet abusing you and your pocketbook. I'd really look into other vets as others have mentioned, and if there is no big $$ difference, look into just pulling the problem teeth. There are plenty of indoor cats that live long lives without all their teeth.

    Good luck and sending good kitty-vibes your way.

  10. Ugh! Yes, I would do exactly what you are doing...the minimum. I think Jane is right, people are cutting back and the vet suffers but this truly seems outrageous. Maybe they should read your blog!

  11. If pulling the teeth is all that's needed to get him healthy again, that's what they need to do. I have an 18 pound cat and I don't wrestle him to brush his teeth, either. That does NOT mean he isn't well taken care of.

  12. I once had a cat with bad teeth - we primarily fed her dry cat food and teeth cleaning treats to help with it, but it turned out she was swallowing food whole because her teeth were sensitive and she was allergic to the treats! One good-old-boy country vet in NC looked at her teeth during an exam once and scraped a big chunk of plaque off her back teeth with his thumbnail. No charge, LOL Second time I had it done "properly" by an Australia vet in Dubai (with all the blood work, etc) and they ended up extracting a couple of teeth - but in the end she was able to chew again.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do and I also suggest you call around and find an alternative place. There has to be a less expensive way! (Expenses like that are a big reason we don't currently have pets)

  13. How old is the cat? I know we treat our animals like children, but then what's next braces, for kittens, false teeth for the older ones. I agree .... find an alternative treatment.

  14. Sue - I will start brushing their teeth as soon as I am fitted with a full-length Kevlar suit. I still have the scars from other dental expeditions.

    Jane - It's a shame, really, that loyalty has no place in the world today. My vet went from an office on their farm to a huge, state of the art complex with an expansive (and expensive) picturesque view. I don't feel like paying for their dreams of grandeur. Those of use with older animals are the ones propping them up.

    Rugosarose Farm - WOW! I should move into your neighborhood. I can hardly get out the door on a good day under $150!

    Candy - Cripes! That must be some special glue they used on you! The medical community must be sniffing it, no?

    Erin - Yes, he is not quite a senior - he's more middle-aged. Like me. I have made a list of what I think is not necessary. And I'm bracing myself for the call. Refund? Hey, you never know!

    Mama Pea - Well, at least he's forgiven me. Sort of. He trundled out and got in my lap. Until I pinned him and squirted ointment in his eye. We are back to square one. Poor kitty.

  15. Leigh - My office has optional Pet Health Coverage. If I covered three (the limit) of my pets, it would be close to $300/month. They really sock you on older pets.

    CR - Of my two dogs, one has 'iffy' teeth. Of my three cats, two are dentally challenged. It ain't fair, I tell you!

    Sylvia - They would probably sue me for defamation, even though I don't name them. It's completely out of hand.

    Tina - Exactly. That is exactly how I feel.

    Jenyfer - I've had the vet do that before. The problem, mostly, is getting this big boy into a carrier and off to the vet. For such a large presence, he can completely disappear in my house. They can read my mind. Scary.

    TL - Cookie will be 12 in March. And he's been as healthy as an ox. Don't laugh - my neighbor said their son had a root canal done on their cat's tooth. My mouth dropped open. This is exactly why veterinary practices are getting totally out of hand!