Dan and Kay Millar -- like a lot of pet owners -- faced a serious problem: Their aging dog was suffering from arthritis, and it was beyond what their longtime vet could treat.
"His pain crisis was really beyond what the typical vet clinic is capable of handling," Dan Millar said. "Not that they're not good, but they don't have the special certified people and specialized equipment."
So they went to a specialist.
Just like human doctors who specialize, this one knew exactly how to treat their dog's arthritis. But it cost hundreds of dollars more than the Millar's expected.
That's not a surprise to our partners at the consumer guide Angie's List.
"When going to a specialized veterinarian, you need to plan ahead for the cost," Angie Hicks said. "Talk to your general veterinarian about what the cost will be so you are not surprised. More than 50% of respondents in an Angie's List poll have used a specialty vet, and 20% of them said it cost more than $2,700."
Hicks says make sure you ask about costs before seeing any type of vet specialist.
She suggests setting up a pet savings accounts for health emergencies, and says consider pet health insurance
But remember: You can buy insurance only before your pet gets sick: Just like with people, you can't buy an insurance policy after the diagnosis.
The good news: Specialty vets mean sick pets are living much longer.
The bad news: It could cost several thousand dollars to keep your pet alive: So you need to think about all your options before saying yes.
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