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Vet Fees For Dogs Explained

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Author: Dr Lizzie Youens BSc (Hons) BVSc MRCVS

A practising vet with over ten years of experience.

This article can be read in

The love and companionship of a dog or cat is incomparable. However, alongside the joy of pet ownership comes the responsibility of care, and this often involves some financial outlay – in dog food, toys, beds, and more. One of the costs of caring for your precious pup is veterinary fees. As vet fees for dogs and cats can vary, it can be challenging to know how much to budget.

This guide aims to explain veterinary costs, help pet owners understand the variation in fees, and give advice on budgeting health care for pets. Of course, this guide will also cover vet fees for cats, along with how often you should take your feline friend to the vet.

Is There A Vets Price List UK Database?

You may well be wondering how on earth vet prices are calculated. With no vets price list UK database, it can be difficult to foresee how much a visit may cost. 

While there may not be a detailed vet price list to work from all veterinarians, vets do not simply pluck the figures from thin air. 

Unfortunately, there is no NHS (National Health Service) for pets. However, there is pet insurance, and with the right policy in place, a policy can help to cover certain vet fees with insurers such as Perfect Pet able to pay your vet direct. 

Veterinary practices are businesses, and the vast majority of the vet fees for dogs and cats, that you pay are in place to cover overheads. Remember, clinics will need to cover building and equipment costs, staff salaries, medicines, and ongoing training costs for staff for new procedures and techniques empowering vets to provide optimal care for your furry friend. 
Finally, remember if you see a local vet price list for your chosen clinic beforehand, the prices will include VAT.

How Much Are Vet Fees?

Veterinary visits happen for all sorts of reasons, and yes, there is a vet consultation fee to consider for certain appointments where you are seeking advice.

Routine appointments for vaccinations, flea control or weight checks, non-urgent appointments for minor illnesses, or even emergency visits for urgent care. The vet fees associated with these trips will vary as much as the reasons do.

Let’s take a look at some common scenarios.

Routine Care Vet Costs

Hopefully, your pup will remain healthy and happy for the vast majority of its life. However, even dogs and cats in top-notch condition are recommended to have certain levels of preventative care. This may vary on area and risk levels, but the vast majority of dogs will need annual vaccinations and regular parasite prevention. Puppies or adults who have lapsed on their boosters will need a primary course of two vaccinations, and adult dogs can then have a yearly booster injection.

The exact vet costs will vary depending on the clinic, but the average price for a primary course of vaccinations is around £60-90, with the yearly booster costing around £50-70.

The requirements for parasite prevention, such as flea, tick, and worming treatment, will vary depending on the recommendations for your area, and costs will vary on the size of your dog but may price out at around £150 yearly.

Many veterinary practices now run subscription services, where you can pay a monthly fee (often £15-30/month, depending on the size of your dog) and have your vaccinations and parasite treatment included whenever you need them. These health plans may offer additional benefits, such as free microchipping, discounts on other services, and added extras such as free anal gland expression or nail trims. They can be very worthwhile if your routine care costs are high.

Illness And Injury

No matter how healthy your pooch is, the odd trip to the vet is to be expected. Tummy upsets, ear infections, and limping or lameness are common reasons your pet requires a veterinary check over.

The vet costs for these visits will vary as to the nature and severity of the problem. Most vets will charge a vet consultation fee, which is often around £40-60.

The treatment vet fees can cover a huge range, with factors such as the size of your dog affecting the amount of medication that has to be given. Minor illnesses such as a vomiting bug or limping could set you back around £100-300, but more severe problems requiring surgical treatment, such as intestinal obstructions or broken limbs, could see bills of £1000-3000 or even higher.

Some conditions, such as heart disease and arthritis, may have low initial costs of around £100-200, but affected dogs may need lifelong medication and regular check-ups, which can mount up over the months and years.

End-Of-Life Care

The decision to say goodbye to a beloved pet is always heart-wrenching, and the last thing a grieving owner wants to consider is cost.

Unfortunately, there are vet fees involved, but veterinary staff will always be considerate and sensitive about these matters. The cost of euthanasia will depend on the size of the dog but will usually be around £50-100. If you opt for cremation, this fee will be added to the euthanasia charge and can be £100-300 for an individual cremation of a large dog. 

Many owners understandably prefer their dog’s goodbye be said at home, and most vets will offer the option of a house call at an additional cost. 
If you have made the difficult decision to say one final goodbye to your pet, then you may Perfect Pet bereavement hub can provide practical support and guidance, including what to expect during the appointment.

Repeat Vet Consultation Fees

If your dog has a medical problem, such as an infected cut or an eye ulcer, your vet may ask to see you back to check on your pup’s progress. Vet consultation fees are usually charged for, even if no further medication is given. The fee covers the time and expertise of the vet, as well as the ongoing costs of running a veterinary clinic.

Boarding Fees

If your dog is unwell and needs to stay at the vet’s for a few days for appropriate treatment, a hospitalisation fee is usually charged (often around £50/day). This includes the necessary consumables such as bedding and food, but also their nursing care which often involves them being checked by a veterinary professional every couple of hours – and more if needed.

Dental Care

Dental disease is extremely common in dogs – with approximately 1 in 8 dogs suffering from this painful condition every year. Dental treatment can be expensive, as the process often involves anaesthesia, medications, x-rays, and tooth extractions. Thorough cleaning and assessment under anaesthesia may be around £200-300, but if extractions are needed, the cost may be much higher.

Dental care can also be difficult to claim on insurance, so many owners must shoulder the cost themselves.

How Much Are Emergency Vet Fees?

Veterinary surgeries have very reasonable opening hours, with appointments often available throughout the day, into the evening, and even at weekends in some cases. However, some illnesses and accidents will inevitably happen when your usual clinic has shut down.

Vets have an obligation to provide 24-hour, 365-day care, although this may be at a neighbouring practice or specialised emergency hospital rather than your usual clinic, depending on the size and arrangements of your local surgery.

Vet fees for emergency (or ‘out of hours’) care tend to be more expensive than daytime care. This is due to increased staffing costs as well as the expenses involved in keeping a building and equipment running overnight, ready for use at any time. Emergency patients also tend to require more critical care, such as intensive nursing.

Similar to calling out an emergency plumber or locksmith, the initial call-out fee is higher out of hours than during the daytime. The average cost for a veterinary emergency appointment is around £200-300. Treatment costs will then be added on top, and these vet costs are often high due to the nature of these conditions often being severe enough to warrant urgent investigation and appropriate care.

Unexpected Vet Costs

With over a decade of working in veterinary practice, I’ve learned of a few vet costs that always seem to surprise pet owners. These may be small or large, but even the small costs can all add up. As vets, we try to be as clear as we can on pricing and expected costs, but it’s always good to be prepared with as much knowledge as you can.

Why Do Vet Fees Vary So Much?

It may seem a bit odd that veterinary fees can vary from practice to practice. I mean, an X-ray is an X-ray, right? 

The reason for this variation is multifactorial. Vets are businesses that can set their own vet fees and will all have individual pricing strategies. Some will choose to charge less for some things and then more for others, and vice versa. Some vets will offer cheaper routine surgery but will have a larger markup on their medications. Others will offer longer consultations at a higher fee, but their drug costs will be lower. There are also variations within the way that vets practice: consultations length, level of expertise, equipment costs, range of medications stocked, and additional services are all factors that will affect how your pet’s medical care is priced. 

Veterinary prices also tend to differ with location. This is due to local costs, such as building rents, council taxes, and competition. Vets in rural areas may have different costs than those in cities, and clinics in affluent areas may have different pricing again.

How Can Pet Insurance For Dogs And Cats Help With Vet Fees?

With vet bills rising and average pet care costs at an all-time high, more and more pet owners are turning to insurance. Taking out a pet insurance policy can give some financial security and peace of mind that your dog can receive the care that they need without harsh financial consequences for the owner. 

According to the Association of British Insurers, the average claim on pet insurance in 2021 was £848, which is a lot of money to be able to pay on the spot if your pet is not insured. 

Pet insurance may be a sensible option if you can’t pay large vet fees with little warning. The type of problems that pet insurance will cover varies as to the type of policy, so there’s usually a range of options and something to suit everyone.

If you were faced with the average £800 bill today for your canine companion, would you be able to cover it? 

In my career as a veterinary surgeon, I’ve met so many wonderful dogs and their dedicated, loving owners. Sadly, it is not uncommon for financial constraints to get in the way of recommended or optimal veterinary treatment. I have experienced many cases where money concerns have clouded medical decisions with an additional layer of worry and stress.

Vets care about pets and people and will always work with pet owners to find a treatment or management plan that works for everyone, but there is no escaping the fact that medical care for pets is expensive.

Discover how to reduce stress for dogs in kennels

How Often Should I Take My Dog To The Vet?

Dogs will need to visit the vet at the time of injury or illness, but they should also have regular health checks when well. These appointments are essential for supporting your dogs’ health and wellness and cover essentials such as vaccinations, parasite prevention, dental checks, and weight management. 

Your vet will also be able to advise you on any concerns you have regarding your pet, such as exercise requirements or grooming. Healthy adult dogs should be seen by a vet at least once a year. 

Puppies will need weight and development checks every couple of months throughout their growth period and an early vaccination course. Senior dogs may also need more frequent attention.

How Often Should You Take A Cat To The Vet?

If your cat is sick, injured, or behaving oddly, then a visit to the vet is common-sense. But cats should be seen regularly by a vet even when well. These wellness appointments are needed to cover routine and preventative care, such as vaccinations, parasite prevention, dental health, and weight checks. They are also an opportunity to discuss any concerns with your vet, such as behaviour or diet. 

Kittens will need to be seen regularly in their first year to give a primary course of vaccinations and to monitor growth and development. Healthy adult cats should be taken to the vet at least once a year. Senior cats may need more frequent checks, with twice-yearly visits advised.

How Much Does A Vet Checkup Cost?

If your pet is unwell, most vets will charge a consultation fee, usually around £40-60. If you are being seen for a wellness appointment, there may be a reduced fee. For example, some vets will offer a smaller fee for an examination of an otherwise healthy animal to provide prescription anti-parasitic medication. Others may utilise nurse appointments for things like weight checks and dietary advice. Many vets offer a subscription service which usually includes routine care such as vaccinations and health checks.

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