Anyone who really knows me knows that I’m obsessed with dogs, and that completely adorable black furry thing that’s never far from my side is my Cavalier King Charles spaniel Dagny. Aside from my husband, she is my world here and acts as my best friend, therapist, sounding board, business partner and more — depending on the day. I don’t know what my life would be without her, so to make sure she’s around for many more years, getting her quality veterinary care is one of my utmost priorities. And I’m SO happy with vets in France!
Pets are alive and well in France. Did you know that nearly half of all households have at least one pet — the largest proportion in Europe?
First, here are some stats from a report about pets and vets in France.
- There are 10,275 vets in France, either within a clinic or on their own, that specialize in domestic animals.
- The pet market was worth just under €4 billion in 2010, creating jobs for around 50,000 people.
Shortly after getting Dagny, we were lucky enough to find a veterinarian that we love. She’s five minutes from our apartment, has great hours (even at lunchtime and Saturdays!), really cares about her clients and goes that extra mile for them.
Based on my experience with several vets and specialists in France, here are some positives about vets in France. And yes, I realize not all vets in France are wonderful. These are just my observations based on my interactions.
In general, French vets seem to be:
- Cheaper in terms of meds and services. In the U.S., veterinary care is big business and costs seem majorly inflated. That’s not to say it’s not a major money maker in France, but French vet costs seem to be more reasonable here. I’ve broken that down further below.
- Able to take their time with each client. Not sure if this is specific to the handful of vets we’ve seen or something that’s taught in France vet schools, but the vets don’t seem rushed like you’re just a number. In the U.S., our vet always seemed rushed, frazzled and wasn’t always as great at explaining things. Of course, that’s just a generalization, but it seems to hold true.
- Thorough without nickel and diming you. In the U.S., it’s been my experience that if you want the vet to clip your dog’s nails, express anal glands and check her ears for example, those are all in addition to a regular consult fee. Here, our vet did all these things as part of the consult fee, which was already reasonable.
- Great at research and follow up. If our vet says she’s going to call on a certain day, she does it. If she says she’s researching a product for us and will email us next week, she does. Dagny eats a raw diet, and while it’s not a common way to feed here (no commercially packaged premade brands here), she supported us and was open-minded enough to help us.
- Organized. Each pet gets a carnet de sante and a pet passport, which acts as a handy little booklet with the pet’s history that the owner keeps. That way, if you’re traveling and have to see another vet, he/she can see exactly what vaccines your dog has, illnesses, etc. Not sure if this is how vets do things in the U.S., but when I was younger and my childhood dog was still alive, everything was in your dog’s file which was kept at your particular vet. Not practical!
I did my vet research
Before leaving the U.S. for France, I made some phone calls to local vets in the NY/NJ area to see what being a dog owner had in store for my wallet. The prices were eye-opening and probably comparable to Paris’s vet costs, being a major metropolitan area. What did I find out? In general, French vet costs are cheaper.
French vet costs
In Dagny’s first 15 months of life, we’ve seen specialists for a few different issues and have made a bunch of visits to vets, (once on vacation for a cornea abrasion, a bee sting although we thought she popped her knee out at the time, a dentist to repair a chipped tooth, etc.) so I have a pretty good idea of what things cost here. I’ve converted a few costs below from the Euro at a 1 Euro=US$1.33 exchange rate.
Consultation at regular vet: $31, which is about mid-range I’d say. (consult in NJ was $55)
Consultation with a specialist: ranges but between $80-120+
Spay for 15 lb dog (including all meds, pre op and post op consults): $363 (in NJ, a spay was about $700 and not sure it included meds)
Comfortis flea treatment: $65 for six-month supply, vet office price (at least $30 more on US discount pet meds sites)
While many things in France leave me scratching my head, veterinary care isn’t one of them. I’ve been so pleased with how things work here in that regard. If Dagny is happy, so am I.