The cost of veterinary care

The question of veterinary fees can be a concern for many pet owners and unfortunately there is no National Health Service (NHS) for pets. A veterinary practice has to run like a business. Staff salaries, the cost of equipment, medicines, and the overheads of running the premises and vehicles make up the bulk of the fee you pay.

A good practice will make considerable ongoing investment in their staff education, training, publications and new technology.

Veterinary medicine advances in the same way as human medicine and the range of techniques and treatments now available can save and restore to health animals that, not long ago, could only have been put to sleep. However, this type of treatment is expensive.

Download our leaflet: The cost of veterinary care explained (PDF 133 KB).

The benefits of pet insurance

To avoid the unexpected cost of an accident or illness, animal owners might want to consider taking out a pet insurance policy.

Download a copy of our leaflet on the benefits of pet insurance (PDF 107 KB).

We cannot recommend any specific pet insurance scheme but there are impartial consumer guides worth consulting:

What to do if you can’t afford treatment for your pet

It’s essential that you seek veterinary attention for sick or injured animals as you have a duty of care under animal welfare legislation. Talk to your regular vet about the available options. There is no NHS for animals so veterinary treatment does come at a cost. However, some charities offer means-tested financial assistance to pet owners. Some examples include:

  • PDSA Vet Care services are available to pet owners who receive means-tested help with their rent (housing benefit) or council tax support/reduction
  • Blue Cross provides veterinary services to pet owners on certain means-tested benefits or low incomes within the catchment areas of its hospitals and clinics
  • RSPCA branches may be able to offer financial assistance for veterinary care in your area and RSPCA hospitals and clinics offer subsidised vet care
  • Dogs Trust offers subsidised neutering and microchipping for dogs and runs the HOPE project providing preventive veterinary care to dogs belonging to homeless people
  • Cats Protection offers help with the cost of neutering through its means tested neutering scheme
  • Tailwaggers Club Trust helps cat and dog owners

Raising concerns about the service you received from a vet or vet nurse

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) regulates veterinary surgeons and registered veterinary nurses and has a responsibility to investigate all concerns raised with them about their conduct.

If you are unhappy with the care your pet has received from a veterinary practice, your first step is to raise a complaint in writing with the practice.

If you are unhappy with the outcome, or you don’t receive a response, please contact the Veterinary Client Mediation Service (VCMS) who will be able to help you.

The VCMS is a voluntary independent and free service for providing mediation, funded by the RCVS.

Read the VCMS guide for animal owners