We have two dogs, and because of the differences in their ages we schedule their exams and vaccines separately. Last week it was the younger dog’s turn, so we made an appointment for her at the veterinary hospital with our usual vet.

It was obvious right away that the downturn in the economy has hit the animal hospital hard. Always before when we have been there for an appointment, the waiting area has been full of people and we have had to stand in line and wait for our turn to speak with one of the four receptionists. This time there was no line, only one receptionist, and no one else waiting for an appointment. Our dog was weighed and we were ushered into the examination room to find our vet already there, waiting with our dog’s records in her hand. Usually we have to wait for her to appear… sometimes even as long as an hour past our appointment time because she has so many other patients.

Another difference was the telephone calls… or lack of them. Our appointment lasted for over forty-five minutes and I think the telephone rang only three times. Usually the telephone is ringing constantly.

But probably the biggest difference of all was when the receptionist handed me the bill. The price of EVERYTHING on the bill had increased since our visit there with our other dog less than three months previously.

This visit could have been a bit rough because this particular dog has developed a strong dislike for the vet. When she was a tiny puppy she had some serious health issues and some of the things the vet had to do to her were extremely painful. The vet said that our dog associates her with pain and unpleasantness and that it was normal that she would “warn her off.” She said that she would respect the validity of our dog’s feelings and keep her distance… so although the exam was as thorough as ever, the vet did not actually touch our dog after her initial attempt was met with a curled lip and ferocious snarl. Our dog kept up a low growl throughout the exam… I held her in the various positions the vet needed her to be in, held her mouth open so her teeth and throat could be checked, and held her steady for the vaccines. It wasn’t difficult because this dog is a gentle soul. She trusts me completely and has never even tried to bite anyone before, and I knew she would not bite me.

She also weighs just slightly over four pounds!

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The ailing economy is effecting every area of life. People aren’t the only ones suffering. Lately I’ve noticed more strays in my neighborhood. It breaks my heart to think that these animals are being dumped because owners can’t afford to keep them. In this rural area, there are no shelters or animal control. Former pets aren’t equipped to fend for themselves. I do what I can by continuing to take care of my 3 dogs and 3 cats. Plus I feed a group of feral cats every day and have been doing this for several years. By reaching out to help others…especially the members of our world who have no voices…I feel a sense of hope that things will improve in the future because I’m doing my part now.


As a single mom, I really can’t afford a pet… but thankfully my oldest daughter has a dog that she freely shares with the kids, lol. Like yours, she is a little dog and so very sweet and spoiled, I’m afraid.


We have more than our share of indoor only neutered/spayed cats, three that were strays and we feed 5-6 strays each day. We live very near an elementary school so I am sure that people drop unwanted kittens/cats in the area hoping a kid would take them home. It is a sad situation for these cats as they are not neutered or spayed, do not have proper health care and have to depend on someone to feed them.


I have a friend who is a vet. She says that their costs have taken a huge jump and that she faces angry clients daily. It’s not a good situation on either side of the equation.


That’s an adorable little dog. I would have more animals than the one dog and one cat we have if the vet expenses were more affordable. It seems a shame that animals aren’t getting homes because caring for them has become so expensive.

Harold J.

I’m a dog trainer so I have a lot of contact with my local vet and I’ve been noticing the same thing you write about. It started slow and then kind of built up but business at the vet (and my business too) are way down thanks to the bad economy. Too bad the animals are the ones that suffer the most.


We just went through the same thing with our two cats. We took them in for their annual shots and it was over 100.00, one of the shots had doubled in price from the previous year. We have 4 dogs and have had to make a hard decision that they will only be getting rabies and maybe parvo shots this year. We just can’t afford to pay for these expensive vaccinations.

Your dog is so cute and I read your blog frequently! Thank you for writing.


Where I live, Illinois, pet owner can do their own vaccination for everything except rabies. Most feed stores keep vaccines refrigerated in the store and so do some pet supply stores.

One type of kennel cough vaccine is administered via the nose for dogs. The 4 in 1 or 7 in 1 is a subcutaneous injection just under the skin. My vet taught me how to do the sub-q injections. I’m sure some website has illustrations but hands-on training is better.

The cost of the vaccine at Rural King the other day was a third of what the vet’s office charges. It’s legal to do your own vaccines in IL but check the law in where you live. I think the all-inclusive dog vaccine was under $6 last time I bought it. The vaccine label lists what diseases are prevented on the label. Parvo is another home administered vaccine that is legal in IL.

To document the mutts and kitties had their vaccines, I peel the labels off the vials and adhere them to an index card. Toss that in the photo copy and my vet keeps a copy on file. I put the original in the pet file. The place where I board, which isn’t often accepts labels as proof of vaccination too. Come to think of it, the label thing satisfied DCFS when we were thinking about being foster parents.

I do have to have rabies administered by a licensed vet and get a state certificate and tag to prove the animal has had their rabies shot.

We are dealing with a fourteen year old terrier mix who is in congestive heart failure and chronic renal failure. Her meds from the vet are pricey and humans are prescribed the same drug for this condition. If she were human, I could get the same drugs at Walmart under their $4 for 30 day supply program, splt the pills and have a four month supply. I haven’t asked but maybe I should. Seems to me if I present a prescription to a pharmacist, he should fill it even if it for a dog written by a vet. Of course, the vet dispenses these meds with a good mark up and I don’t think he’d agree to do it. Is it better that the vet profit or that ill animals get meds they need to survive?

Ms. Mutt also has skin allergies and the vet wrote a prescription for a custom compounded skin cream called “Happy Heinie”. $15 for one ounce when I had it filled. I tried the cream on my hands, love it so I asked my human doctor for a prescription to treat contact dermitis. I just filled the prescription. One pound jar was less than $5 using prescription insurance. I think I’ll share with Ms. Mutt.

I was honest with my doctor that I intended to share with the dog. My doctor likes dogs. She just could not find a way to write a prescription for heart meds for me because I don’t have a heart condition.

The vet has sent me home more than a few times with hypodermics full of antibiotics after teaching me how to inject them so I don’t have to come back several days in a row to have the office dose a sick animal. A couple of times, the vet set me up with an IV bag and catheter so I could do sub-q hydration of a sick dog at home. I was charged for the cost of the solution and the catheter, no office visit.

I also buy flea preventatives and heart worm medication at the feed store and skip the vet.

One thing I’ve learned in all these years of pet ownership is canine and feline drugs are often the same as human drugs, just different dosages. Naturally, I let the vet calculate the dosage. The allergic dog takes over the counter antihistimines, dosage calculated by the vet. Dogs can’t take aspirin, just as a warning.


I don’t know if “PC” will see this or not, but I work at a vet and it is definitely worth it for you to ask yours if he/she can write a script for your dog’s meds at the WalMart pharmacy. The clinic where I work does this whenever possible. We even call them in for people at their own respective pharmacies if they need us to.


I also work at a vet too and our doctors write scripts to be filled at people pharmacy’s all the time. In fact, when they can they will write it, sometimes even letting people know if they can get it cheaper at people pharmacy’s. I love the vet I work at. They are one of the few in the area that will do anything they can to assist you in emergency care for your pet. We try all avenue’s of course prior to accepting the last option pymts but most of the doctor’s are more concerned on the pet’s care in bad situations than immediate pymt. They realize what the economy is like. We are busy but not like what we normally are. But then again, we typically slow down around this time of year anyway. But it is a little slower than our normal slow. We also manage to have some of the better prices in town too. Our dental are around $200 (includeing optional bloodwork) in comparison to a lot of area vets that cost $300 – $400 (as quoted by many new clients that call looking for cost estimates!). We have 7 doctors in our practice so it can be quite hairy during our busy times so some of us look forward to some down time per se!! LOL It is hard to find that middle ground sometimes. I dread leaving this area and quitting such a wonderful practice!!