Posted: Tue 26th Dec 2023

Rising vet bills: A growing concern for UK pet owners, says Which?

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Dec 26th, 2023

A recent Which? investigation has brought to light the struggles UK pet owners are facing with escalating veterinary bills and a lack of clear advice.

The report comes at a crucial time as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) scrutinises the veterinary market for potentially unfair practices.

The UK has seen a surge in pet ownership since the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the UK Pet Food Industry Association, around three in five households owned a pet in 2022.

However, with this rise in pet ownership comes increased concerns over veterinary costs.

Which? surveyed 2,000 pet owners and examined the websites of large-chain veterinary practices, uncovering various issues.

Key findings include difficulty in comparing prices, with only a quarter of pet owners actively doing so.

Among these, 30% found it challenging to compare, especially those aged 65 and over.

The survey revealed instances of bill shock and unclear pricing structures.

Keith Dancey, a pet owner, experienced this firsthand when he was charged a full consultation fee for a two-minute phone update on his cat’s condition.

Furthermore, vet prices are often not displayed online, and most costs, such as treatment and medication, are communicated post-appointment.

Lisa Saunders shared her experience of being charged around £700 for various consultations, blood tests, and antibiotics for her dog, only to be told later by another vet that the medication was unnecessary.

This highlights another significant issue: over a quarter of pet owners have doubted the necessity of treatments recommended by their vets.

The cost of veterinary services is a major concern, with 70% of pet owners considering consultation fees expensive and 80% thinking the same of treatments and medications.

Keith Dancey’s experience, where he was quoted £188.96 for a treatment he later imported from America for £41.94, underscores the issue of costly vet prices.

Which? findings indicate a need for greater transparency and consumer protection in the veterinary industry.

Less than a quarter of pet owners have purchased medications from sources other than their vet, despite potentially lower costs elsewhere.

In light of these findings, Which? is calling for regulatory action to address these consumer challenges in the veterinary market.

The CMA’s ongoing investigation into the industry is a step in ensuring fair practices and protecting the interests of pet owners across the UK.

 

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