BROADCAST DATE : Oct 4, 2013

Barking Mad


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To launch our 41st season, host Erica Johnson reveals how pet owners may be paying hundreds of dollars for questionable treatments and procedures at the vet. On hidden camera, the Marketplace team goes undercover with our four-legged sleuth, Marshall, a healthy bulldog, taking him to ten veterinary clinics. We put the vets to the test on what they’ll recommend for routine pet care needs.

Some vets we visit prescribe vaccines our undercover dog doesn't need, testing that's unnecessary, expensive medications and pet food, as well as differing diagnoses for a common condition. And we reveal five ways that your vet bill may be inflated and how to keep your pet healthy and your vet costs down.

With 14 million dogs and cats in Canada and a 90 per cent jump in household pet care spending since 1997, no wonder pet owners facing soaring vet bills are Barking Mad.

We take our results to health and nutrition experts, as well as disgruntled pet owners, who tell us that they’re not impressed. “I think that's in pretty poor taste, if they're charging for stuff we don't need,” one dog owner tells us.

And we also take your concerns to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA). “You need to have a very active conversation with your veterinarian,” Dr. Jim Berry says, CVMA president. “We will find lots of ways to work with you to maximize the health of your pet and to minimize cost.”

Watch our full investigation for more on what we uncover. And you can join the Marketplace watchdog team by sending us your vet bills. We’re building a map of what Canadians coast to coast pay for basic services at the vet.