The cost of vets

in Pets & Pet Care
77 replies 14.8K views
orlaoorlao Forumite
1.1K Posts
Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker

Further to an earlier thread when Wuno and Snowman2 kindly explained how they work out their markup on drugs and that they sometimes subsidise the cost of consultations with the profit from medication sales.....I wondered how you felt about this?

Maybe not such an issue if you have pet insurance but in a lot of cases you can run out insurance particularly for longterm conditions so while this may not affect you now it might in the future.......

Personally I prefer to pay a "realistic" consultation charge and buy the required drugs online as Felimazole for my cat is £27 inc VAT and postage online instead of £44.65 at the vets. Thats for 6 weeks supply so the annual saving is over £150!!! That's just one med for one of my four indoor pets!!!

What do you all think about this issue?

Should vets charge a realistic consultation and reduce drug prices 56 votes

Yes and compete with the online pharmacies
78% 44 votes
No, stay as they are and continue to use drug sales to subsidise consultation fees
19% 11 votes
Another way (Please post with your idea!)
1% 1 vote


  • spookylukeyspookylukey Forumite
    841 Posts
    500 Posts
    I too buy all my flea treatments/wormers - Frontline spot on / Drontal tablets - online at a greatly reduced price than my vet offers. When I was buying medication for my elderly uninsured cat the cost for medication (Felimazole and Fortekor) was around half of that had I purchased directly from my vet. I was quite prepared and willing to pay the monthly consultation fees, blood tests, steroid injections etc as vet care is not something I would compromise on but when offered the option to buy an identical product at half the cost then who in their right mind would not do so. My cat was on Felimazole for almost 5 years so you can imagine how much I saved when I discovered online pet pharmacies.

    Having said that I do appreciate that vets are expensive for a reason, there are three different companies to choose from where I live and my vet is by far and the most expensive out of the three but as I said veterinary care is not something I'm prepared to compromise on or cut back on, they have excellent facilities and caring veterinary surgeons, nurses and receptionists.

    Whilst we are on the subject of vet fees then I would urge evryone to insure their pets, I spent close to 5k on vet fees/medications in the last 4 or 5 years of my 19 year old cats' life, I don't begrudge her a penny but had she been insured then I would be almost £5000 richer!

    Already my two perfectly healthy (INSURED!) kittens have racked up over £600 in vets bills not including routine neutering, vaccination, microchipping etc.

    There is an interesting breakdown on my vets website on the true cost of running a veterinary surgery and why fees can appear to be expensive.
    Veterinary Fees

    The majority of people consider that veterinary fees are expensive. It is worth considering the costs involved in running a health service.

    The National Health Service (NHS) provides medical treatment to most people in the UK. This is a so-called “FREE” service to us all. In reality, the costs involved in running the NHS are massive as we all appreciate when we hear of the investment made by the Government each year and how this vast sum of money is never enough to provide all the care we expect.

    In reality, the NHS is NOT free. We all pay taxes from which a large amount is used to fund our Health Care Service, (BILLIONS of pounds each year). People who are ill and require medicines are often given a prescription to obtain from a chemist. A nominal fee is charged at the chemist for the medicine. On rare occasions this prescription fee may in reality be more than the drugs are worth but MANY of the drugs are actually worth tens, hundreds or even thousands of pounds more than the cost of the prescription charge.

    Unlike the NHS, veterinary practices have to fund themselves from charges made to pet owners. We are unable to gain finance from other sources and must be self-sufficient. This means that pet owners see the REAL cost of health care services, (much like patients who seek private medical treatment).

    The fees we charge, be it for consultations, vaccinations, operations, medicines, etc, are not all used to pay the veterinary surgeons as most people appear to think. In reality, approximately 24 % of your bill at the veterinary surgery is used to pay the veterinary surgeons, (including the Partners, Consultants and Assistant Veterinary Surgeons). The majority of the veterinary bill is made-up of expenses including 17.5% added to ALL bills for VAT. Other expenses include paying Veterinary Nurses, Receptionists, Administration, Renting Buildings, Building Running Costs, Cleaning fees, Legal Fees, Insurance and Further Education Courses.

    Profits at the end of the year are often re-invested into the practice to fund new equipment to enable us to improve the service we offer.

    So when you next look at your veterinary bill, we hope that you are able to have a better understanding of why we must charge our fees to enable us to provide you with a high quality Health Service for your pet(s).

    The pie-chart below gives an accurate representation of how the money we received in 2006 was spent (based on 2006 accounts).

    With the rapid advance in treatments available to animals over the previous years, many more conditions are now treatable than were previously. Long stays in hospital along with advanced medical tests and possible surgery means veterinary medical expenses can reach levels that some people may find difficult to afford.
  • I can't really answer as I have found a great vet who even knocks some off the bill sometimes if it's been getting expensive, I have no complaints with my current vets prices on anything and I never get sold anything i can buy cheaper elsewhere.

    I stay away from those who have many practices as they have always been the expensive (taking the Michael) ones.

    Also ones who try and sell you things (pressure sales) when you know you can go to a pet shop and buy it at a third of the price, or worse try and scare you into buying their special make of food they sell.

    If anyone isn't happy with their vets price up marks then try another vet.
    £200 saved for baby things :T
  • spookylukeyspookylukey Forumite
    841 Posts
    500 Posts
    Supergirl wrote: »
    Also ones who try and sell you things (pressure sales) when you know you can go to a pet shop and buy it at a third of the price.

    Sometimes you do need veterinary grade products though, buying flea/worming stuff from a pet shop or supermarket really is a false economy.

    Nowadays veterinary grade items like Frontline and Drontal are available in certain pet shops (pets at home as an example) and high street chemists as they don't require a prescription they just need to be sold by a suitably qualified person but in all honesty they are still much cheaper online - I pay £16.29 (with free delivery) for 6 frontline cat spot ons from versus 3 for £12.99 from Pets at Home. Two cat drontal tablets - £2.84 from vetuk versus £7.99 from Pets at Home.

    Edit: I forgot to say, I click on the vetuk link to get to the vetuk site on a Cats Protection website (affiliate link) which means that vetuk donate 5% of my total order value to the Cats Protection branch so not only do I get a bargain but I get to help some needy cats too :) I don't think I'm allowed to post the CP site here as it's against the rules but if you have a look at your local independant rescue or Cats Protection site you'll probably find a vetuk link to go through.
  • lisa2905lisa2905 Forumite
    68 Posts
    I need a prescription for my dogs medicine 'metacam' when his insurance covered it i used to buy everything off the vet and just claim it back (to support my vet who my dog has been with for 12 years) but I can't claim for his metacam any more as its over 12 months so can't claim off the insurance any more. So unfortunately I need to get a prescription and get it cheaper on line. But my vets insist on before giving him the prescription he needs a blood test/examination as its been 4 months since his last one. Now I didn't mind doing this when I was claiming it all back, but I know that the blood test and appointment will cost over £40. To be honest I know my dog is old and his heart is not what it used to be and he gets puffed out easily he is a big pedigree old dog that has had some major ops over the past few years so why do I keep having to have these expensive check ups before they will give me a prescription. So my question is can I just insist on the prescription and not have to have the appointment/tests every 4 months??? Does anyone know the answer about this please.
  • lisa2905lisa2905 Forumite
    68 Posts
    Exactly!!! Thanks for that I think they are taking advantage of me a bit as they have had 12 years business from me having everything they say - well you do when your dogs ill don't you !!! But I didn't want to insist on the prescription if I had to have these checks first. After all as you say its just a bit of pain relief for arthritis and a back operation, they are not going to make him into a young puppy again I realise that !!!!
  • spookylukeyspookylukey Forumite
    841 Posts
    500 Posts
    Long term Metacam use can cause liver and kidney damage which is why your vet wants to do regular blood tests on him to check that he is still a suitable candidate to prescribe the Metacam to.

    I know it doesn't help you now, but by you highlighting the 12 month payout with your insurance issue it just shows the importance of getting a policy that covers your pet for life, not just 12 months after diagnosis.
  • lisa2905lisa2905 Forumite
    68 Posts
    Many thanks spookylukey I understand what you are saying about liver/kidney damage - unfortunately as my dog is old I don't expect too much just a pain free life. The insurance policy has served me well even though it only lasts 12 months for each condition. For 10 years I thought why am I paying this - as I had never claimed a thing. Then last year when he was 11 Harry had a cervical disk replacement and in total it cost over £5500 !!!! How glad was I that I had paid for insurance for all those years !!! So that is also why he is on Metacam. My insurancce paid up - so I am well happy with it. Think I will continue to have the blood tests as I just want the best for my old dog, just didn't want to get ripped off by the vets unnessasarily !!!
  • ~Chameleon~~Chameleon~ Forumite
    12K Posts
    Simon_P wrote: »

    Personally i wouldn't be entirely happy if it were my dog. I'd insist they hand over MY prescription on request & if i feel my dog needs a battery of tests in the mean time i'll be in touch.

    Since when did you spend 6 years in medical school to become qualified to know if/when your dog needs any tests? :rolleyes:

    Would you be as happy for your GP to continually dish out repeat prescriptions without ever checking that the medication is still appropriate and not causing damaging, possibly life-threatening, side effects? :confused:
    “You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.”
  • elsienelsien Forumite
    27.6K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    I'm happy with the current system, because the insurance covers a lot of the medication costs, and I have a lot of consultations just for check ups for various things.
    My nice vet also sometimes waives the cost when he thinks he's seen rather too much of us on a short space of time!
    All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

    Pedant alert - it's could have, not could of.
  • frivolous_fayfrivolous_fay Forumite
    13.3K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Combo Breaker Mortgage-free Glee!
    Out of interest, what drugs can be claimed for on pet insurance?
    My TV is broken! :cry:
    Edit: refunded £515 for TV 1.5 years out of warranty - thank you Sale of Goods Act! :j
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