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Expensive fecal exam.

Species: Dog
Breed: Havanese/Poodle
Age: Less than 3 mon
Hello Dr. Marie,

My question is about a vet bill that I got yesterday and I wanted to know if it was excessively high or legitimate.

On Wed. night, my dog had diarrhea, which turned into diarrhea with blood, and then he was just dripping blood, then it stopped. I walked him that night, and he had a more solid poop, and at 11pm, he had the zoomies and was racing around my house for about 5 minutes. I thought he was fine.

At 6am Thursday, my husband woke up and there was diarrhea all over the house - at least 7 places, and some places there was just blood.

I brought him to a new vet that was recommended by my puppy trainer at Petco. She uses him and said that he was good and reasonable.

My son said he saw Boomer eat grass on a walk, and the vet said he had inflamed intestines that were holding liquid. His eyes were still white, his tongue was blanched, and his gums were not as red as they should be.

The vet said that he thought the dog had pancreatitis from the grass and that he would be fine by tomorrow. He gave him a few shots and took blood, and took the stool sample I came with, and gave him two pills (one was flagel), and gave me bland dog food to feed him for a week.

When I got the bill, I almost hyperventilated. It was $642. I'm not questioning most of it, like the medicine, and food (though $47 seemed high), and shots, and visit, but the fecal test was $185 and the blood work was $145.

I asked the dr. why I needed these tests since he was so sure of his diagnosis and that the dog would be better in 24 hours. He removed the blood work for $145 (he said that it was a THI test for a specific thing that we didn't really need to do), but he said that we really needed to do the stool test to confirm his diagnosis and to confirm that the course of treatment is correct.

My question is - is this BS? Did I really need that $185 test? If the dog wasn't better today (he is much better, thank God), I could have brought in a stool sample today to test.

Thanks, Dr. Marie. I've known about you and admired your website and business model for years from Cre8asite, so you were the first person I thought of when I had a vet question.

Take care and have a great weekend.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Thanks for your kind words Risa! You have sure helped me out a lot at Cre8asite. I should spend more time there...just so busy these days!

Most of what you have described to me sounds in line. When little dogs get severe diarrhea it can sometimes be a sign of something serious. One possibility is a condition called HGE (hemorrhagic enteritis) which is very serious. It's a wonderful thing that Boomer is ok, but I think that doing tests was definitely a good call.

I'm trying to figure out why there was a $185 fecal test though. A normal fecal flotation test to look for parasites should be somewhere between $20 and $40. It's possible that they sent away a DNA test to look for unusual things such as clostridium or campylobactor. That would not normally be something that I would do on a first visit though.

You may want to ask exactly what it is that they were testing for for the fecal test and then get back to me. I am doubtful that the vet was trying to do anything immoral, but it's possible that there is either a misunderstanding or a part of the picture that I'm not seeing.

When you find out, just reply to this question and I'll let you know my thoughts.


Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Thanks, Dr. Marie. I haven't participated at Cre8asite in such a long time, that just a few weeks ago I asked to be removed from Moderator status.

At your suggestion, I just called my Vet and they clarified the bill, which was unclear and I feel much better. The fecal test was $15, a snap test for giardia was $45, and the $185 was for the CBC (does $185 sound about right for a CBC?).

Right after I submitted my question, the dr. called who said that Boomer has gastritis and pancreatitis, which I think they found out from the CBC.



Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Ah $15 makes much more sense and the giardia test is not unreasonable. I think that the blood work is more than a CBC. The test that tells about pancreatitis is called a PLI test and it is quite pricey.

I know it seems silly to have spent that much money when everything was just fine but if there was a serious problem it would have been important to know about it.

I do think you were probably charged fairly. It's unfortunate that the charges weren't properly explained to you first though.

Now if the test shows that Boomer does have pancreatitis then it is possible that he is recovering on his own. However if you continue to see symptoms then it is important to hae him seen right away. While some cases of pancreatitis are minor others can be severe and even life threatening.

Gastritis is really just an upset stomach. It's more the pancreatitis that I'm concerned about. I hope he continues to get better!

Dr. Marie

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.