Visiting a veterinarian in any foreign country can send panic waves up your spine. Taking your pet to a vet back home will do that as well but add to this the language barriers (you may or may not have them), the unknown quality of training, and general scheduling challenges; at that moment you may wish you stayed back home with little Binky. Read on to see how much it costs to visit a vet in France and what to expect.
Search for a Vet
Always locate more than one vet as soon as you arrive or better yet, beforehand. Google map the closest, read reviews, whatever it takes. Once you arrive, ask any local you come across walking their dog where they take their dog for vet services.
Learn Vet Terms
Panique! This is just one of the words you should become familiar with when traveling with your pet in France. Fortunately, some French words are similar to English, but some aren’t. Keep Google Translate or similar app on your phone, and if your pet has ongoing issues (like Toby does), write the terms down and listen to how they are spoken. Glands Anales sounds nothing like Anal Glands.
Our Emergency Trip to the Vet
Par example, when we returned from Kayaking down the Dordgone, our Toby was in full Panique! This was shortly followed by both Masters’ full panic, swearing at each other in multiple languages for not checking Toby’s glands before departing on a 3-hour cruise. It was now 5’oclock. The glands were swollen – gonfle. Où est le vétérinaire le plus proche ? (Where is the nearest vet?)
The Sign for Vets in France
We were in Sarlat for one month and fortunately had passed by a few on our daily excursions avant panique(before the need for marriage counseling). “Don’t Vets have a blue cross on a white background sign?” “Right! We passed one on the way to the river. You’re a lovely genius!” Mariage sauve. Still, better to have researched the hours and plot which ones speak English beforehand. Yahoo, Google, Apple Maps… they are not to be relied upon in Europe entirely.
Fortunately, the vet was still on duty, and spoke fair English. He put the Fermè sign on the door, got out his scalpel, and sliced poor Toby’s leg open to let the gland drain. To Alanis Morissette’s chagrin, the vet prescribed some antibiotics and pain meds then scheduled a follow-up visit. To our delight, he did not even ask for payment. Guess he trusted us. At least, he trusted Toby to be back again to take out the stitches.
The next day, we did bring Toby back for his follow-up and the vet that spoke English was out on emergency, so we had to see another vet, who did not speak a lick. Our six years of Duolingo and one semester of French in Community College would be tested grandement. Husband stuffed a croissant in his mouth and pretended to speak French. With a great deal of hand gestures and pantomimes, and a bit of croissant choking, basic communication was achieved. Toby would be okay. The Vet sent us on our way. No contact information, nothing. “Puis-je payer?” Can I pay? “Ah ouiii!” We held our breath for l’addition, figuring the bill would be exorbitant seeing there was an emergency surgery performed, follow-up visit, meds, and it’s France.
“Cent Euros.” “Tu peux répéter s’il te plait?” (Say what?) She handed us the printed bill. “L’addition. Cent Euros.”We turned to each other. Cent. 100. This could not be. In Gold River, Toby had the same surgery and it cost us $800. “Merci Beaucoup!” We rapidement outta there before some slim moustached accountant looking fellow might arrive.
Village Vets vs City Vets
Which is better, a visit une campagne countryside vet, or a Vet in the city? We would soon find out, as we visited one vet in Annecy, and one in Dijon. While Annecy is too big for a village, we would not call it a city. The two visits were for the same issue, only pre-gonfle, before any swelling. Just good old packed anal glands. It’s been a problem.
In Dijon. The visit cost $100, which is more than twice the cost even in the US. This vet at least scoffed at antibiotics and suggested adding rice to Toby’s diet. She also prescribed Hills Science Diet for allergies. Neither had any effect. Thank you nothingness, Alanis Morissette sang.
Next up, Annecy. This vet spoke little English, just went about her business, and said there was some infection, so prescribed like all French vets it seemed, antibiotics. Alanis was now furious. You know the song, Get Me Off These Antibiotics? Yet, Alanis was still flashing a peace sign as there were protesters blocking our way to the vet. You know, Macron The Musical? The banging of pots and pans and blocking traffic. We were annoyed as well, but the vet visit? Only $30 Euros! 20 for the visit, 10 for the same antibiotics that cost $80 in Beaulieu. At least these didn’t send Toby into conniptions. Read ahead.
Seeing a Specialist Vet
Leaving the land of lawn fertilizers for old stone villages had not stopped his scratching and red skin irritation. Poor little guy! So, we went to see another Veterinarian in Beaulieu-Sur-Mer, a specialist in Dermatology, hoping to find a cure. While the vet’s fee was half of what we paid in Charlotte, he spoke zero English, gave us a couple of calming shampoos and prescribed… more antibiotics, which sent Toby into a vomiting extravaganza, and he almost died from choking. Alanis was now furious, as she began flashing more than just peace signs. The bill in this case was $150 Euros. Cent cinquante. Don’t ask how to pronounce that in French.
So, that’s the downside, that you may have to visit a vet and upend your travels. Yet, know that in most cases, you’re in good hands, but sometimes not, so it’s best to go to a dog park and ask the locals who is their vet, and they will tell you he is the best in town. One thing is for sure; you will pay much less in France for a vet visit. Seems like a great reason to move there! If only maisons cost a fraction of what they do. See our Househunters France article for more, once we get around to writing it. It’s an ongoing process! Thanks for reading, and just think… what if little Binky had an issue back home while you were traveling, and left him in the hands of someone who could never ever love them as much as you do.
And obtw, no matter how cheap the vet in France, it is still cheaper to visit a doctor, something along the lines of $7 copay! Viva la France!