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Sorry to ask but can anyone explain why it costs so much to have veterinary treatment?

(81 Posts)
DeirdreDoo Thu 26-Nov-15 10:17:52

I hope this doesn't offend - I am aware there may be vets who post on here and am hoping they won't mind putting it into context for me, as I am a bit perplexed, and don't want to jump to conclusions.

We have two rabbits and have had them for several years. Nothing's really gone wrong until yesterday when I had to take in my boy rabbit for a few stitches to a wound. It was fairly straightforward and he needed sedation, and we picked him up after about 6 hours though he hadn't eaten (they kept him there an extra 3 hours so that they could make sure he did - but told me to pick him up anyway in the end - he has now started eating so that's not a concern)

We have some precautionary antibiotics (£12) and the rest cost £83.

When they were neutered several years ago it was £35 per male rabbit.

I can't understand why a few stitches with sedation is now the best part of a hundred pounds?

Is this to do with inflation?

The vets are lovely and faultless in their care and I would never raise this issue in person. I don't see them as charging so much because they are out to make a profit - I'm sure it is minimal - so why is it that they have to charge so much compared to a few years ago?

Thanks of anyone got this far.

FernieB Thu 26-Nov-15 10:35:23

It does sometimes seem excessive. I always try and breakdown the costs in my head. For an animal to be kept in, there's the wages of the nurses who monitor and care for it, the bedding, cleaning out etc. The vets are also (like the NHS) at the mercy of the drugs companies when it comes to the price of medicines. They are also a business and need to cover their overheads - utilities, taxes, wages, training costs, pensions, rents/property maintenance, equipment costs etc. On top of that, they should make a profit because they are a business and probably need to keep a bank manager happy, plus have money aside for rainy days!

I do sometimes think it seems pricey but the standard of care I get from my vets is wonderful - follow up calls to check on pets are routine - so I don't begrudge paying it.

DeirdreDoo Thu 26-Nov-15 10:37:55

No, you're right, there probably are a lot of associated costs and I don't begrudge it either (aside from the fact both children got covered in dog shit when we collected him, because their 'lawn' is actually used as a dog toilet - bit disappointing)

It's just the leap from maybe 3 years ago seems excessive when presumably it would have involved much the same sort of treatment, and actually been a more complex thing to do than stitch a small wound.

PurpleDaisies Thu 26-Nov-15 10:42:34

I think it seems expensive because we don't pay for our healthcare so we don't really know how much it costs to keep things sterile, pay for drugs, staff, beds etc...

I don't think most vets are in it for the money. Costs do vary-our amazing local independent vet charges £40 for neutering male rabbits.

DeirdreDoo Thu 26-Nov-15 10:44:36

Also I was hoping to adopt some rescued guinea pigs one day or maybe another cat, but looking at the costs involved with a fairly basic treatment for a rabbit, I think this is going to be out of the question - which in turn makes me wonder if this is the reason so many animals are unwanted in the first place, or can't be looked after once they become ill.

And yes I realise people shouldn't take them on if they aren't prepared to pay for treatment, but sometimes it feels as if pet ownership is now becoming a bit of an elite situation - I've had pets, cats and rabbits etc all my life and probably can't continue to do so.

DeirdreDoo Thu 26-Nov-15 10:44:48

It occurs to me that perhaps neutering is kept at that sort of price to make it accessible? Which is a very good thing if so.

Costacoffeeplease Thu 26-Nov-15 10:48:59

I think it would be fairly obvious that a piece of grass at a vet would be used for wees and poos confused - it's not really going to be a playground

Twooter Thu 26-Nov-15 10:49:09

Vets used to charge peanuts for small animals as they felt they didn't have as much 'worth' to their owners as dogs and cats. However often the ops on small mammals are more time consuming and more technical so the dog and cat owners were in effect subsidising the others. There has been a move to charge more fairly whatever the animal - I think what you paid is probably still less than what you would have been charged if it had been a cat for example.

PurpleDaisies Thu 26-Nov-15 10:54:37

I've got four guinea pigs (all unwanted rescue pigs who are wonderful). I went to the vet yesterday and it cost £18 to be seen and for the antibiotics and painkillers. I don't think that's unreasonable and it very rarely costs more than that. I don't think that owning a small pet is now only available to the elite.

The PDSA provides vet care to animals where the owners people without much money.

StillYummy Thu 26-Nov-15 10:55:49

Connected vaguely but, when you pay for an emurgency out of hours vet... Most of the time the vet gets nothing! They dont get over time and it is assumed they will do it because they all do it. I was a bit cross when I found out my lovely vet gets nothing.

DeirdreDoo Thu 26-Nov-15 10:58:42

Costa, do you not think it would be a good thing if the owners picked up the poo? It was dark, my children assumed the grass on either side of the path would be safe to walk on. I can understand it being used but not left. There is a bag dispenser right beside it.

DeirdreDoo Thu 26-Nov-15 10:59:14

Still - where does the money go if the vet doesn't get paid? That's awful.

OytheBumbler Thu 26-Nov-15 10:59:35

When I got my dog DH and I were both working and happy to pay insurance and vet fees. Roll on 5 years and I'm at home with the children and we're on one wage. I can't afford the £60pm insurance (Kennel Club) that I was paying so now I just have to hope and pray we don't need any treatment until I'm working again.

I also wonder how many people don't take their animals to the vet because they can't afford it and just wait and see. sad I don't know what the answer is.

Costacoffeeplease Thu 26-Nov-15 11:03:18

Yes of course, but if it was dark perhaps some got missed, perhaps it was vet staff walking dogs who have been in for operations, perhaps there had been some sort of emergency situation - it's a vet not a playground so no, I wouldn't assume it would be OK to walk on

Complaints about dog poo in parks and on pavements, fine, complaints about dog poo at a vet confused

tattychicken Thu 26-Nov-15 11:04:31

I got charged £65 for a consultation and antibiotics for my daughter's pet mouse. They classed it as an exotic pet!! I nearly hit the roof.

DeirdreDoo Thu 26-Nov-15 11:08:46

I didn't want this to be a rant thread, not at all, and I hope it doesn't become one. And the dog poo was a side issue as I have explained. It won't stop me going there and it doesn't detract from the way my pets have been treated there. It's just really disgusting to have to deal with, in the dark, with a toddler that's hard to control while carrying a pet basket and I wish the people whose pets made the mess had thought to clean it up, as it made our lives much harder yesterday evening.

DeirdreDoo Thu 26-Nov-15 11:10:06

I'm bewildered at a mouse being classed as exotic though. That's a bit odd.

gleam Thu 26-Nov-15 11:12:26

I think vet costs are probably fairly accurate. Human health costs are 'hidden'.

One of my dc is training to be a vet. It's a 5 year degree, £9000 in tuition fees every year, expensive city accommodation.

They're told when they start, that a vet's life won't make them rich.

PurpleDaisies Thu 26-Nov-15 11:14:33

Guinea pigs are classed as exotic too. I'm surprised about mice though.

laplumeofmyaunt Thu 26-Nov-15 11:20:50

I think it has something to do with the way more and more owners are insuring their pets - same as everything else, as soon as insurance is involved the prices get hiked.

We have a beloved old moggy who has been very healthy all her long life, with very few trips to the vets other than annual jabs, but in the last year, she has had to go 3 or 4 times, and it's now cost us approx £1200, which it's been a real struggle to afford. Cat was at vets this week because she was throwing up. All tests inconclusive so we don't really know what the problem is. The bill from yesterday was itemised and basically consisted of
Consult £17.50
Sedation £29.61
X Ray. £60
Lab fees £93
Examination £15.50
Blood sample £10.34
Various medications approx £49

Our vets are lovely and caring, but I really worry if DCat needs much more in the way of treatment. We didn't get her insured because when we got her, nearly 20 years ago, no-one did. Moggies were cheap pets to care for, but that's no longer true. when DCat goes, we will probably never get another one wholly due to the cost of vet bills.

Our vets do PDSA work, and tear their hair out at the poor care many of their PDSA cases receive generally, and the type of animals they have to treat. Vet was telling me that they have given up asking for donations from PDSA clients because the requests are so often met with rudeness and entitlement.

So I guess we are possible subsidising these cases as well.

TBH I would bring back dog licences and charge at least £100 per year for them - if you can't afford that, then you sure as hell can't afford a dog.

bonzo77 Thu 26-Nov-15 11:33:56

Costs are high because:
They need up to date expertise for lots of species. Training is expensive.
Ditto equipment/ medication stock for various species.
It's not subsidised.
Insurance increases costs: vets charge more as they know the insurance companies will pay out (actually they don't always : Animal Friends I'm looking at you).
Demand is high.
Very high tech treatment is available compared to the past, including testing and treatment for chronic conditions which used to result in rapid death or euthanasia (cheaper).

I believe you do get what you pay for on the whole, and costs are not excessive for what you get. I think you need to compare it with private human health care: it's no less complex/ skilled. It's up to you to decide how much treatment your pet gets. I'm a big believer in choosing euthanasia earlier on (because it reduces suffering and is so often the end point anyway), and taking simpler treatment options (a cat with a badly broken leg that might be fixable but could alternatively be amputed with a faster recovery).

f1fan2015 Thu 26-Nov-15 11:37:25

It really is an eye opener as to the cost of medical care in humans when you have to go private (currently living abroad in a country where the free medical care is not worth risking using). I think because, in the UK, we are using a free at point of care health system - we have no concept of just how much it costs for an individual and how much that varies from someone who barely uses the system to someone who has an illness that requires ongoing care.

Once you realise the cost for humans, paying the market rate for animals becomes more understandable.

I do wonder if there are two rates though - one for paying for yourself and one for insurance (this happens with human insurance!). Have you looked into whether it makes sense to get insurance?

OytheBumbler Thu 26-Nov-15 11:48:38

I think it's a bit disingenuous to say if you can't afford vet care you can't afford an animal. Vet bills can run into the £1000's and often vets offer a belt and braces approach -steroids and antibiotics and tests just to cover all eventualities.

When my dog cut her paw recently I had to break the bill down into what I could afford/what she desperately needed. The vet offered steroids, antibiotics, a 'just in case' stitch, collar plus anaesthesia for the stitch and the day care associated with that. I chose the antibiotics and bandaged the cut myself. Fortunately the paw healed and I got away with it. I would of course let her have all the treatment if it was desperately needed but it wasn't.

I don't claim benefits so I can't get help with vet bills. It's also interesting how the vet will change the treatment requirements according to whether you have insurance or not.

DeirdreDoo Thu 26-Nov-15 12:01:35

I did wonder if insurance might be part of the problem - do vets really charge more because they think people are insured and will claim?

The last time we had insurance was a few years ago for our cat (who was also getting on a bit) and she dared to have a urinary issue more than once and as such, it wasn't covered. (simple prescription of Metacam - £49 for consultation and medicine).

I stopped paying for insurance and decided it made more sense to keep the money in case we needed to pay the vet.

That's a whole other issue, though it is of course linked in a big way.

If insurance paid out properly and didn't have so many clauses meaning they didn't have to, then owning even an elderly pet wouldn't be such a huge problem.

I feel really awful that I would ideally like to adopt at least one elderly cat from a rescue centre but I just can't do it because of the veterinary costs.

simonettavespucci Thu 26-Nov-15 12:04:43

Deirdre I think you're probably right that neutering is underpriced to encourage owners to do it, rather than other treatment being overpriced.

I'm out of the UK at the minute and I'd be thrilled to come out of any medical appointment for either me or my cat with change from £100. Medical care is really expensive.

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