“Let’s get a pet,” they said. “We’ll take care of it,” they promised.

And you actually fell for it!

Even though you’ve assumed almost all responsibility for feeding it, walking it, grooming it, and cleaning up its messes, you’re glad your kids (liars) talked you into getting a pet (or three). We love our pets and, as with any member of the family, want them to get great health care. Given all the other sacrifices we make for the critters, however, we’d prefer not to put up with unnecessary inconvenience, unpleasantness, and cost to get that care.

Our Ratings Tables summarize the judgments of consumers on area veterinary practices. We also supply price comparison scores for each practice, which are based on price quotes our mystery shoppers obtained.

There is substantial variation: Some vets receive “superior” ratings on many aspects of care from at least 95 percent of their surveyed customers, while others receive “superior” ratings from fewer than 60 percent of their surveyed customers.

There are also big price differences. For example, to spay a seven-month-old, 25-pound dog, our undercover shoppers were quoted fees ranging from $235 to $1,210. And to clean the teeth of a six-year-old, 65-pound dog, quoted fees ranged from $265 to $1,074. Fortunately, since many of the lowest-priced vets received very high ratings from their surveyed customers, you can save money without sacrificing the quality of your critter’s care.