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Do vet prices vary much and why?


With the demand for veterinary care increasing rapidly, you may have found yourself hunting for different veterinary practices, analysing their pricing, availability and service list. Vet prices include the fee of consults, surgeries, medicines, parasite treatments plus extra services such as written prescriptions, animal health certificates, urinalysis, blood analysis and many more! This makes interpreting vet prices very difficult because most prices will not be advertised on practice websites. Prices will vary slightly from practice to practice – below I will discuss why.

The consult fee from practice to practice may vary. 

Veterinary practices are businesses. The consult fee is something that can affect which veterinary practice you choose because this is something that is often clearly advertised on the practice’s website. Choosing a practice based on their consult price may not mirror the overall cost of your visit. This is because the veterinary practices’ mark up on drugs, testing and analysis will vary. 

The consult fee varies based on a number of factors. This is because this fee has to cover the cost of the non-veterinary staff, building, staff training, and equipment: different practices have different setups and levels of equipment and staffing. They may also cover these overheads differently.

Prices for surgery may vary quite dramatically. 

This depends primarily on the level of surgical expertise within the veterinary practice. Many practices will offer packages which include routine surgery, making these procedures extremely discounted. Some surgeons will be able to offer laparoscopic surgery, which may come at additional cost but has additional benefits. In addition, corporate practices may be able to offer cheaper medicines due to bulk buying medicines for their practices across the country. 

The monitoring equipment available to the anaesthetic staff may also vary. A high surgical price may be because more sophisticated equipment and monitoring for your pet while they are asleep is available, for example. Or because they have more staff to assist with surgery and aftercare.

Depending on the location of the practice around the country, the average veterinary bill will vary, the same way house prices do. 

This is due to the building purchase or rental cost and its maintenance will vary across the country. In addition, there are differences in the cost of living in different areas. Meaning that, for example, salaries of staff in London are higher than in most other parts of the country.

Consult length will vary from practice to practice. 

Some practices have 10 minute appointments as standard, compared to other practices having 30 minutes per appointment. The longer the consult length, the more time the veterinary professional will have to perform a much more thorough examination on your pet and have more time to discuss any concerns. BUT, the shorter the consult, the less likely it is that you will have to wait for an appointment. Checking the length of a standard appointment for your veterinary practice is important. Some veterinary practices also offer nurse consults. These are a brilliant way to offer a high quality service at a lower price; allowing regular medication administration such as monthly injections or discussing new diagnoses with a veterinary professional. 

Night care and out-of-hours emergency pricing will depend on how your veterinary practice operates through the night. 

Some practices will have an in house team who provide night care to their animals. Other practices will transport their inpatients to a night veterinary care provider – and this is increasingly the commonest structure. It does mean, however, that the practice has no control over out of hours prices.

Having multiple vet practices for different services may be cheapest.

This method of providing veterinary care means that you can make the most of different offers, but the veterinary care level may be inconsistent. It is difficult for vets to monitor for disease progressions if they don’t see your pet regularly. In addition, regular treatments such as vaccinations and anti-parasite treatment are much more thorough and accurate if you use one veterinary practice; as we can easily check which products and the specific date you have received products last time. This helps to ensure we provide the most suitable product for your pet each time. 

Find the veterinary practice that suits you best. 

You need to be registered with a veterinary practice that can offer the best service possible for you and your pet. Price will come into this, and you should be aware of how much you will be paying for a consult fee before any medication is prescribed. If you cannot afford the veterinary practice you have selected, you should shop around for cheaper options. Alternatively inform your veterinary practice that affordability is something that will be a limiting factor on the veterinary care you can agree to for your pet. All services should always be discussed alongside pricing of each option helping to guide towards the most suitable treatment choice. You should think about the location of your veterinary practice, you need to be able to get there in the case of an emergency. 

In addition, check the consulting hours offered by your veterinary practice. More often than not, when you need veterinary attention, it will not be an emergency and you will need to fit a consult in around your normal working day. Check that your veterinary practice can offer consult times that you are able to attend, too!

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