Your Afternoon Animal Fix – Request for Modestly Priced Animal Hospitals

If you have any fun or interesting animal/pet photos please shoot me an email to princeofpetworth(at)gmail(dot)com with ‘Animal Fix’ in the title and say what neighborhood you’re from or upload to the PoPville flickr pool with your pets name and neighborhood. I can’t guarantee I’ll get them all posted but I’ll do my best.

“This is Lucy. She’s a transplant from Arkansas that’s now kickin’ it with the squirrels in Woodley Park. [She’s considering running for mayor.]”

“Columbus (Buster) sitting by the window on a snowy day in Columbia Heights.”

“Ferdinand (Ferdie) lounging on the couch in Columbia Heights.”

Photo by PoPville flickr user jgbrc

“A Double Crested Cormorant that I took yesterday at Constitutuion Gardens (a.k.a. Duck pond near the Vietnam War Memorial).”

After the jump animal hospital request.

“Dear PoPville,

You featured my cat, PHawk, on the blog over the summer. We were thrilled! Unfortunately, PHawk has developed a very painful skin disease that the vets have been unable to diagnose. After numerous vet visits and medications, she is worsening. Several vets have suggested that she needs to have a biopsy and tests run. Unfortunately, this is very expensive and I am a student. Do you happen to know of any low cost animal hospitals in the DC area?”

We have some veterinarian recs here but does anyone have modestly priced suggestions? I’ve heard Petworth Animal Hospital is reasonable at 4012 Georgia Ave NW.

30 Comment

  • Washington Animal Rescue League has a hospital open to low income pet owners, if you meet income restrictions. Also, we have used City Paws. They are pretty expensive but I have negotiated most of the services I received with them by outlining my budget upfront. Figure out exactly what tests you need and shop around for the best offer.

  • If PHawk’s parent is below the income threshold you can use the vet clinic at the Washington Animal Rescue League. I hope they can help her!

    Great cormorant photo!

  • I find that you often have to be on some type of government assistance to qualify for these low income vet services (and have proof of it). I am also a student but due to the fact that I don’t live off food stamps, etc I don’t qualify for any of the low cost vaccinations for my cat.

  • Ferdie is super-cute.

  • i’d vote for the Corgi!

  • It’s a bit of a haul, but we have found better pricing and service at Alpine Vet in Cabin John, MD than anywhere in DC proper.

    They are very fair and really care about each pet individually, I know that they offer discounts to rescue organizations and were really fair with us when our dog ran up some enormous bills, so helpfully you can explain your situation and get some help.

    Good Luck!

  • If you had access to a car, would it be possible to take her to a veterinary school that takes cases like this? Perhaps you can reach out to one of the rescue groups (Homeward Trails, Cat’s Cradle, etc…) and ask for suggestions. They may have good ideas for you. Also, you might consider visiting a holistic vet. My neighbor’s cat has had really bad allergies with her skin, which appear to be helped by adding nettles to her food. Good luck.

    • Sorry to hear that about PHawk, poor kitty. I don’t have any experience with local animal hospitals, but I support this suggestion to investigate whether diet could help our kitty. A friend’s cat was developing bald spots in her fur a few years ago and it turns out that she had suddenly became allergic to her food – other kinds of allergies can cause skin-related symptoms as well. The Dr. Fox column in the newspaper almost always has a recommendation for a change in diet or a natural supplement for a pet owner to try — even in situations where it doesn’t provide a cure, it might help alleviate the kitty’s symptoms. Good luck!

  • My old cat had a pretty bad skin disorder (nasty, scabby rashes all over the place). We shelled out a ton of money going to specialists (through Friendship) only to discover that one of the most common skin issues with cats stems from a food allergy-specifically a protein allergy. We switched his food to a low protein food that was actually marketed for cats with renal/kidney issues. It did wonders for his skin in not very much time.

    Granted, I have no idea what’s wrong with PHawk. I just suggest this as a potential low cost, low risk solution.

  • Head out to the burbs, the further out you go the cheaper it is. The local rescue I volunteer with gets work done a few hours outside the city when possible. Otherwise, even heading out to Centerville (Caring Hands) will be significantly cheaper.

  • me

    There is an animal hospital in Springfield, called the Regional Veterinary Referral (I think). There is even a specalized dermatology department. It’s next to Outback on Backlick Rd. They are great, plus they have financing. Took care of my little monster so that he can keep causing trouble. 🙂 Plus, though we knew it would be expensive (and they quoted us a pretty hefty price), it was about half of what they quoted us.

  • anon. gardener

    FWIW: around the time of the contaminated pet food scare, our cat developed very scary lesions – on his back legs and stomach, and around his ears. sometimes it seemed scabby, looked angry, almost like a burn. It didn’t seem to hurt too much. A steroid shot didn’t help much… So i started making his food from scratch. there are lots of recipes, i kept mine pretty simple, chicken, chicken hearts and livers, and some green vegetables thrown in. I fed him that for 4 or 5 months, the problem totally cleared up, and we’ve never had a problem since. And now he eats Science Diet. The big outlay is for a meat grinder – I saw a cheap one at Harbor Freight last weekend. It’s worth a try!

    • I’ve read a lot of stuff that discourages me from making my own pet food– a lot of experts claim it’s dangerous becuase the pet may not be getting proper nutrition. Any thoughts on this?

      Also, I’ve been curious about how the price of making your own food compares to buying it canned.

      • anon. gardener

        Well, there are certain essential nutrients that need to be included. the one i remember being key is calcium. Some of the chicken bone gets ground up with the meat, and that meets part of the requirement. You need to use chicken livers and hearts, not just muscle, to get the others. if you worry about nutritional needs not being met, you can always supplement with a kitty vitamin. if you are really curious, i can dig up the recipe i used and post it. i’d make one big batch a month, divide into meal sized portions and freeze. price-wise it wasn’t any more expensive than the science diet we feed him now.

  • Friendship Hospital is amazing for these things, but unfortunately not very cheap.

    However, if this is something that you need to have taken care of, you might want to consider getting a CareCredit card, particularly if they’re still doing the one year interest free deal. I was a student when our first cat had a major health crisis and we had no emergency fund big enough to cover the vet bills. Debt isn’t fun, but no interest debt to keep a pet alive and healthy was worth it for us.

    Hope she feels better soon!

    • Couldn’t disagree more. The idea of opening up new credit and incurring debt (while a student no less) at one of the most expensive animal hospitals in the DC area, seems like an absolutely terrible idea. IMHO much better idea to take her to a cheaper place outside of the city, or to try and work with the people at WARL to get some help. We donate monthly to WARL, and love the place. Couldn’t bring our dog there for vet services, but we would absolutely never choose Friendship.

      Take a quick look at Yelp to tell you all you need to know about Friendship Animal Hospital. You specifically (being on a budget), should focus solely on the posts mentioning cost. Friendship will crush you, and this thing will cost you well into the four digits before you know what hit you. I would avoid at all costs.

      • +1 Friendship is horrible- they overcharge and misdiagnose all the time so they can do experimental surgeries on your pet- do NOT take the kitty there. mine goes to Dr. Silver at Chevy Chase Vets- very affordable and after my kitty was misdiagnosed by Friendship (i had to take him there before we left the country because of the location of the cat-sitter), Dr. Silver correctly diagnosed him and now he’s fine.

    • Like I said, in my experience, our cat’s life was worth manageable debt for a year and peace of mind after our former vet failed to catch his condition. The arrangement might not be for everyone!

  • saf

    When our cat hat issues, Dr Kats, now at Union Vet, was very helpful. They’ll work with you on payment.

    • I love Dr Kats, she was amazing when my cat got sick. But holy cow is Union Vet expensive. My husband loves a vet out in Laurel. I think it’s Lakeside Vet or something like that. He had a dog before we were married who had diabetes and a host of other issues. He still raves about what good care they took of his dog and their reasonable cost.

    • I have to rant about Union Vet. Our dog had been throwing up and we took him to UV, his usual doctors. We were there earlier in the day and then returned later that same evening when his symptoms worsened. They took his temperature (2xs to double check b/c they had gotten in a new shipment of thermometers) and told us it was an astounding 104+. Basically, we were advised he needed to be rushed to Friendship Animal Hospital b/c UV was closing in 20 minutes and there was nothing they could do (not helpful). We raced across town, at night, in the pouring rain, full of anxiety and fear, only to be told at Friendship that his temperature was normal, no fever whatsoever. Friendship did a great job answering all of our questions, the doctors spoke to us on the phone multiple times (they even called after he was released from the hospital), and even discounted the bill in the end. Union Vet never once called to check up on our dog. I understand that a vet is a business like any other, but you would think that after telling us that our dog had a fever that was supposedly off the charts, they would have shown a little compassion or concern. And yes, they are extremely expensive.

  • I want to kees his little floppy cormorant feet!

  • Ferdie looks a bit like my kitty!

  • Not in DC, but Beltsville Veterinary Hospital is excellent. I’ve been going there for over ten years and never had a bad experience.

  • Thanks for all the suggestions re: PHawk. Unfortunately some additional tests showed that it was an underlying auto-immune issue that would take extensive treatment and she is just in too make pain right now to force her to go through surgery and then drawn out treatment.

    Thanks again.

  • The key to cheap veterinary work is knowing what your animals need and don’t need and when.

    With traditional medicine, annually, your dogs should be kept up to date on rabies, distemper, and bordatella. You should also get a yearly HW Test. (Of course, many practice alternate vaccine schedules, but I am going with the normal here).

    Rabies is required, distemper is really important (usually a combo vax which prevents against other things like the lepto you posted about earlier this week), bordatella is kennel cough prevention which is important for social dogs who go to the dog park, have visitors, etc.

    Luv My Pet (luvmypet dot come) does very affordable vaccine clinics at pet stores around the area. They have 10 clinics in the DC area this Saturday, and nearly 15 on Sunday. Mind you most are in Bowie, Rockville, etc. Know what main vaccines you need and how often (ie: after year one, most dogs go onto a three year rabies, etc).

    For everything you need annually, it is only $70 at Luv My Pet. Keep the records, fax them into your main vet, and have them on file if your pet has anything that requires medical attention for anythign else.

    The good thing about keeping them only monthly preventatives if that they tend to have dewormer and other good stuff built in. (Again, this is in traditional medicine, many don’t like the chemical dump of the monthly meds). I personally do HW preventative but don’t do topical flea and tick.

    For special treatments, shop around. Call around to certain vets and ask their prices. Ask if they will charge less if you come mid-day for treatment rather than at peak hours, or less if you use a vet tech in training. For major things like dental work, surgeries, etc you often do better if you call around to places in Annapolis, and other far suburbs.

    Good luck!

    • The Department of Health offers free vaccination clinics at various locations throughout the city during May/June. Also, the Washington Humane Society offers $10 vaccinations at their spay/neuter clinic.

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