But a recent study by the non-profit Checkbook.org shows that making a few calls can really pay off for both your pet and your pocketbook.
Checkbook asked more than 10,000 pet owners in the Delaware Valley to rate more than 160 local veterinary clinics.
Then, they called around and got prices from those clinics for routine services, such as spaying, neutering and dental cleanings.
Robert Krughoff, Checkbook's President, says the findings were surprising.
"So for instance, to neuter a 30-pound, 6-month-old dog, Checkbook found prices ranging from, $100 up to $555 dollars for exactly the same service," Krughoff explains. "Dramatic differences is price. And we found this again and again for different types of service."
Further, they found no correlation between quality and price.
Krughoff says, "Some of the lowest-priced vets were among some of the highest rated in terms of what the customer said about them, in terms of the quality of care and advice that they got from those vets."
Krughoff says pet owners can also save by keeping up on preventive care and by seeing if vets will consult over the phone, instead of insisting on office visits.
And there's nothing stopping you from getting price quotes for routine services yourself, which are a good indicator of that clinic's general pricing.
"If a vet has good prices on routine things like neutering and teeth-cleaning and things like that." Krughoff says, "You can be pretty sure that the vet is going to have reasonable prices on the things that you can't know in advance."
To read more about Checkbook.org's survey of veterinarians, click here.