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Story | Apr 13, 2008Veterinarian Gregory Hammer laughed as he recalled the average price his clients paid for an office visit in 1973, when he started out in rural Kansas. ¶ "It was $6," said Hammer, now president of the American Veterinary Medical Assn. ¶ Good luck getting so much as a torn nail clipped for that these days. ¶ Americans spent more than $10 billion on veterinary care last year, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Assn. ¶ A single visit to a vet cost an average of $135 for a dog owner as of 2006, the last time the veterinary group took a survey of those costs. That's up 83% from 10 years earlier. And the price is probably a good bit higher in Southern California, where vet fees are steeper than in most of the country. ¶ Inflation played a major role -- the costs of office space, staff salaries, equipment and supplies have all shot up.