Costs of living are rising daily and we are bombarded with worries about the cost of food, fuel for our cars, and energy for our homes. An important part of many of our lives are the pets that take up residence in our homes and our hearts. As part of our family, it’s often hard to talk about how much it costs to care for our pets when they are unwell, but it’s a topic vets face daily. Being in the fortunate position to live in a country where human health care is free at the point of care, we can separate the emotions and dealings of illness from costs. In veterinary medicine, there is no NHS, but whilst we are often uncomfortable talking about money (we are British, after all) there are some things to share that may help.
Don’t put off visiting your vets if you are worried about your pet. Often the sooner a problem is identified and treated, the more quickly it can be cured or managed. Delaying visiting your vet can allow a small problem to become bigger and more costly. There are so many ways we can access information about our pets. From friends and family to the internet, to the breeder of your pet, local pet food store, the groomers - the list goes on. What these past few years have taught us, is that whilst we are very fortunate to be able to communicate and learn in so many ways, misinformation can also be tricky to spot. If you are ever unsure - speak to your vet. Please don’t feel embarrassed or unsure, a good vet enjoys discussing many topics with their clients - it helps build a good working relationship and allows us to share our knowledge, and sometimes learn things in return!
Never be afraid to talk openly about the cost with your vet. We understand that budgets vary greatly. We also know that your pets are priceless, and what you can spend is in no way related to how much you love your pet and how much they mean to you. Some costs can not be escaped, however often we can work with you to find the most realistic options with regards to how to manage your pet's case.
Consider insuring your pet. Vets are not allowed to recommend any particular company, but we can offer advice on things to look for. Where possible, try to go for a policy that will cover your pet's condition for life, this means that every year, the money you have to spend on your pet’s illness is renewed. Look at what additional benefits the policy provides - many will cover therapies such as physiotherapy, acupuncture, and even behavioural care with recognised specialists. Look at the total amount you have to spend, policies of £4000 and upwards offer a much larger financial cushion in the event of a complicated illness or accident.
Don’t neglect routine health care. Whilst many pet owners associate visiting the vets with sick pets, it’s the routine visits for healthy animals that can often be the most cost-effective route to good health and lower costs. Vaccinations usually come with a full exam to check your pet's physical health, and discussions including everything from dental care, weight control, advice on diets, to exercise and parasite control. Sadly we do still see cases of some of the diseases we vaccinate against, so making sure your pet is protected is important. Many vets offer health care plans that spread the cost of routine health care into smaller, monthly payments.
As important as all of this advice is, know that as well as being your pet’s doctor, vets are real people too. Often with the same worries and concerns in life that you have. When we work together as a partnership, we can achieve the best for your pet and make it through these tough times together.