I share weekend duties in my housecall practice with several other vets. Working on weekends has its pros and cons, but for me one of the upsides of working on Saturday is listening to the radio as I make my way from appointment to appointment.

Of course, I can listen to the radio while I drive on any day of the week, but I especially look forward to some of the shows that are broadcast on the weekend, one of which is Marketplace Money, produced by American Public Media.

The broadcast that I caught on February 18 was particularly interesting, as a large portion of it dealt with the economics of pet ownership.

The first segment covered the rising costs of pet health care and some of its causes. The reporter looked at the issue from two sides:

  1. Owners who demand top of the line care out of love or a desire to "keep up with the Joneses."
  2. Veterinarians who have the ability to provide that type of care and therefore recommend it.

In other words, if you have an MRI machine you’re going to want to use it.

The second segment was a panel discussion, with several owners and a veterinarian, on how owners handle decision making when it comes to veterinary care - specifically around the end of life. The vet made two excellent points that I constantly reiterate with my clients: It’s all about quality of life, and just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should. The veterinarian’s job is to put the options on the table and help owners decide which might be best for their pet based on their unique situation.

The final segment was a report on the tens of thousands of dollars it takes to get a dog into the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. This isn’t what I consider a necessary expense associated with pet ownership, but as one owner put it: “It’s a hobby, a form of enjoyment, and you get to do it with a living, breathing companion." Another owner said: "Showing is like herpes, once you get it in your blood you can’t get it out."

Take a listen to the show, if for no other reason than to hear a few more quotes like the last one. The pet section starts at about 25:45.


Dr. Jennifer Coates

Image: Everett Collection / via Shutterstock