Apr 05 2012

Paul’s Monthly Tip to Live for Less in Costa Rica: Visiting the Veterinarian

A lot of Expats in Costa Rica have pets, and sometimes we need to take them to a veterinarian. In Costa Rica, the vet is a big money-saver when compared to the U.S. We’ve had cats in the States, and we always dreaded vet visits because they cost so much and were sometimes unexpected. The bill was never less than $100 for even routine things.

Dr. Aleona & 18-year-old cat, Anjelica




In Costa Rica, the vet is a great deal. There are a lot of them and they are very well trained. Some specialize in farm animals while others cater to domestic pets. Our vet, Dr. Aleona, is from Croatia. She works predominantly with dogs and cats. She’s a “one-man-band” and does all of the procedures herself.  And she always allows us to go into the exam/treatment room with our pet.

We have two cats: Tori and Laura Chinchilla (named after CRs current and first female president). And they go once in a while for needed shots and care. Recently our cat Tori stayed out late and when she returned, she was sluggish…just not her usual rambunctious self. What had happened to her in the jungle?  Did she get in a fight? Did she get bitten? We checked her over and couldn’t find anything wrong, but in the morning we took her to our vet, Dr. Aleona.  Sure enough, Tori had a fever and was in pain. Dr. Aleona gave her two injections — an antibiotic for the fever and something for the pain. She also gave us three anti-inflammatory pills to give to Tori over the next three nights, and sent us on our way, telling us to come back on Monday if Tori hadn’t improved. Price: 9,000 colones ($18.00)

A few days later, a very large abscess appeared on Tori’s hip, so off to the vet we went. Dr. Aleona said  that Tori was probably bitten by a snake or other reptile the previous week when she first showed symptoms and it took a while for the site to become infected and swollen.  It was serious. This required putting Tori to sleep, lancing the abscess, draining and cleaning the affected area, then injecting antibiotics and pain medicine. Price: 12,000 colones ($24.00)

We were shocked, pleasantly shocked. Actually, we couldn’t believe our ears…we looked at each other for a moment in amazement, then we paid our bill. In the U.S., we’d be looking at hundreds of dollars, so we saved a lot!

Two days later, we returned so Dr. Aleona could check Tori and give her injections of an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory. Price: 2,000 colones ($4.00)

If you have a pet, don’t be afraid to bring it to Costa Rica. You’ll save at the vet’s. Those LARGE, unexpected vet bills will be a thing of the past.

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