Our pets love getting into mischief and while most of the time it’s something adorably harmless such as stealing socks or climbing on top of the wardrobe, sometimes their antics can lead to a pretty large vet bill.
Having pet insurance is a crucial part of pet ownership. You can’t put a price on the wellbeing of a much-loved family pet, and with some bills adding up to thousands of pounds, you’ll thank yourself later for ensuring that your pet can have the veterinary care they need, when they need it, without having too much of a financial impact on you. But, it’s worth noting that insurance won’t always cover all of the cost of your claim. Like other types of insurance, there’s usually a portion of the fee you’ll need to pay yourself, and then your insurance will cover the rest of the claim. What this is will depend on your policy. You may also find that your insurance only covers certain ailments, so make sure you read through what is and isn’t covered before making a claim.
If you don’t have pet insurance, though, or your policy doesn’t cover your pet’s particular needs this time, we’ve taken a look at the average vet bill costs and what to do if you need to find the money to cover your pet’s medical bills.
Average vet bill costs in the UK
The average pet insurance claim in the UK comes in at a staggering £757. This is a massive increase since 2007, when the average insurance claim for vet bills sat at around £386. In the face of such substantial bills, having pet insurance is more important than ever.
What kind of costs you’re faced with, however, depend entirely on what kind of animal you have and how big they are. The size of your pet and whether or not they require a specialist vet to attend them may affect the cost of their treatment. It’s worth noting that vet bills for dogs will often cost more than for cats or rodents simply because dogs are usually larger, and unusual pets like reptiles and birds may also cost more to treat. For example, bigger dogs, such as Alsatians or Great Danes, require higher doses of antibiotics for them to be effective, and need more time allocated for surgery; this could lead to a larger bill for their treatment. The specialism of the treatment required is another factor; if you have an unusual pet like a reptile, or have a pet with a specific illness that requires a referral to a consultant, the specialist vet will cost more than a normal vet in most cases.
We’ve broken down some of the most common reasons for a visit to the vets for cats and dogs here, as well as the average cost for each.
|Treatment||Average cost dog||Average cost cat|
|Consultation with a vet to determine what is wrong||£60||£60|
|Emergency treatment fees (on top of the cost to perform the treatment or prescribe any medicine)||£150||£150|
|Spaying or neutering||£60 – £180||£100|
|Blood tests||£100 – £130||£100 – £130|
|Treatment for vomiting||£419.01||£381.78|
How to save money on vet bills
Sign up to a vet in advance
Taking your pet to a veterinary surgery that they aren’t listed with could incur an additional fee. Get them on the books to ensure they have a place and an assigned vet who can see them when necessary. This vet will have all their details on record and so can use past medical history to determine the best treatment. An assigned vet may also result in your pet getting to know them over time, making going to the vets a more comfortable experience for everyone. From an owner’s perspective, being registered with a particular clinic will mean you’ll know exactly who to call and where to go in an emergency.
Look into a monthly direct debit or one-off payment plan
Some vets offer special plans to cover the cost of routine care appointments like vaccinations or neutering. For example, you may be able to pay a one-off lifetime fee for your pet’s annual vaccinations. Pay the bill once, then simply return for boosters each year after at no additional cost.
Find out what your vets out of hours practice options are
In the UK, vets have a duty of care to treat animals 24/7 if necessary, or provide another emergency service that can step in outside of practice working hours. Find out what your surgery offers, and what your options are if you need out of hours care to ensure you know where to turn in an emergency and what the cost is likely to be.
Look into charity support
Many animal charities, such as the RSPCA, PDSA and Blue Cross, can help with larger vet bills, and it’s worth researching what options for assistance are available to you. There will usually be certain criteria you need to meet; for example, the PDSA can help you obtain free or subsidised treatment if you receive certain government benefits and live in the catchment area for one of their vet hospitals or clinics.
What if I can’t pay a vet bill?
If you discover that you’re struggling to find the funds to pay the excess on a vet bill or don’t have pet insurance at all and now must cover the whole amount yourself, there are options available.
Speak to the veterinary surgery about a payment plan
Some vets will allow you to pay for the treatment your pet needs in monthly instalments, allowing you to spread the cost in an affordable way, without compromising on your pet’s care. Bear in mind that not all vets will be able to offer this, so it’s worth checking this ideally before registering your pet with a veterinary practice, and definitely before you commit to a course of treatment for your pet, if you think it’s something you may need.
Borrow from friends or family
Your loved ones understand how much your pet means to you and if you need to borrow money they may be willing to help. Speak to them about borrowing the amount you need to pay the bill and then how you can pay this back over a certain period of time. Borrowing from those close to you also means there won’t be any interest or fees to worry about but do consider that it can cause a strain on your relationship if you don’t set out clear rules from the start, or are later unable to pay them back.
Take on a loan for pet bills
When you need to find the money to pay a bill upfront, a short-term loan can help you to cover the cost now, and pay back later, over an agreed period of time. At Sunny, we offer short-term loans from £100 to £2,500 that can be used to cover a bill from the vet, ensuring your pet gets the treatment they need.
Our loans can be paid back over six to 14 months depending on the amount you borrow, allowing you to spread the cost and avoid straining your finances. You can check your eligibility for a loan with us before you apply, without impacting your credit score † . We do this by carrying out a soft search of your credit report, which doesn’t impact your credit score, as it only leaves a marker that’s visible to you. If our checks indicate that you’re likely to be approved for a loan with us then we will carry out a hard search – which will leave a marker on your credit file, and can be seen by other lenders. This will impact your credit score – and affordability checks.
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If you’ve carefully considered your options and have decided that a short-term loan is the best way for you to cover the cost of the vet bill you need to pay, apply with Sunny today and get your pet on the road to recovery in no time.
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