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Veterinary care is rising as there is no price control over procedures


It’s a predicament: Dr Amilan (left) tending to a dog with breathing difficulties. Pets today have longer lifespans but that leads to more health issues and ultimately higher medical bills.

It’s a predicament: Dr Amilan (left) tending to a dog with breathing difficulties. Pets today have longer lifespans but that leads to more health issues and ultimately higher medical bills.

PETALING JAYA: RM850 for teeth scaling. That’s the price to pay to keep the chompers of your pet cat sparkling.

A check by The Star showed that the cost of veterinary care is not only rising but also varies depending on the vet.

Dental scaling, for example, ranges from RM266 to RM850. For neutering a dog, one vet quoted RM850, while others charged between RM200 and RM480.

The Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) conceded that there is no price control over veterinary procedures.

“Pricing is not determined by DVS. As practitioners, they (veterinarians) should be responsible and professional,” said DVS director-general Datuk Dr Quaza Nizamuddin Hassan Nizam.

“You can channel any complaints on unethical veterinarians to the Malaysian Veterinary Council,” said Dr Quaza.

Malaysian Small Animal Veterinary Association council member Dr Amilan Sivagurunathan explained that some veterinary practices might charge more due to the manpower and level of service they offer.

“If you compare a practice that is running 24 hours, 365 days a year, to a practice that works 9am to 5pm, five days a week, I think there’s a big difference in cost,” he said.

Dr Amilan said salaries for doctors and staff had also gone up, adding to operating costs.

Procedures such as dental scaling for animals could be costly because the animal had to be anaesthetised.

“Dental scaling for a person and a dog is not that different, we use the same equipment and same consumables and we need to approach the mouth the same way,” he said.

“What makes it different is that the animal has to be anaesthetised. With anaesthesia comes risk and certain steps need to be taken,” said Dr Amilan.

During the scaling procedure, he said the animal had to be intubated and monitored.

“At the end of the day, you are putting the pet under (anaesthetic) to do a procedure. So it becomes a surgery, and the cost will be different,” he said.

Dr Amilan said that a good scaling should last a pet for a year but owners who fre­quently brush their pet’s teeth do not need scaling as often as those who do not brush their teeth.

Pets are also living longer, which may lead to increased veterinary costs as they are more prone to health issues.

“Today, the lifespan of animals has increased. It is not uncommon to see animals that live up to 22 years,” he said.

However, Dr Amilan said veterinarians would not recommend a course of treatment the owner does not want to do.

“If the owner wants a cost-effective, low-cost management of a pet, it will be outpatient treatment and nothing else,” he said.

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