By Lana Charge (MVetPhys)
Petrol, household bills, lurpack – you name it, it’s probably increased in price in the last few months. Unfortunately, veterinary care is no exception. As with any business, when suppliers put their prices up, prices for customers must also increase. We understand that this is a really difficult time to manage the costs of living, thus we wanted to discuss some tips to make your money go further.
First up is to research the breed you’ve fallen in love with before deciding they are the right fit for your family. Many breeds have well known conditions they commonly suffer with, which can be extremely costly. For example, bulldogs sadly often suffer from skin and breathing issues, Dachshunds from spinal issues and German Shepherds from hindlimb weakness. The same is seen in certain cat breeds eg. Persians often suffer from breathing issues. Just to put the costs into context, medical treatment for itchy sore skin can cost a minimum of £100 per month for a small breed dog. If referral to a dermatology specialist is required, prices begin at £200-300 – just for the initial consultation with the vet. So, we cannot stress enough how important it is to really look into canine and feline breeds carefully before committing. We are always here to offer advice and support where you need and have our own rehoming consultant who can offer advice should you decide you want to rescue a pet.
Once you’ve chosen your pet, insure them straight away. It’s never too late to insure your pet and whilst the company may place exclusions on your policy such as previous illnesses or injuries, if a new condition crops up they will be covered for this so we still recommend insuring them. Contrary to popular belief, you can insure both older animals and rescue animals. As you can see with the example above, costs can escalate very quickly when it comes to animal healthcare. Sadly, there is no NHS for animals, so these costs are often unavoidable. With proper insurance in place however, this becomes much less of a problem. For more advice on choosing an insurance policy, please see our previous article on this which is featured on our website.
We always encourage people to make use of our nurse clinics. Whilst veterinary appointments are important in case of illness or injury, nurse clinics are really useful for when you need advice on pet care from diet and weight control to toilet training and neutering. Crucially, they are a much more affordable way of obtaining the help you need regarding general pet care queries. At Blackwater Vets, a number of our nurse clinics are complementary when you sign up to our health plan so be sure to take advantage of this to make some savings on pet care.
At Blackwater Vets one of our key values is preventative healthcare. That is, detecting and acting in the early stages or prior to the arrival of a problem, to prevent clinical signs progressing to a stage which may not be reversible. Being proactive and acting on a potential problem before it’s a major one will save you some serious pennies in the future. For example, vaccinating your pet annually and using year-round flea and worm protection (all included in our health plan) is a relatively low-cost way of protecting your pet from serious diseases and infections. In the same way, making some simple adjustments in your home and to your pet’s daily exercise routine can prevent or delay musculoskeletal problems by reducing strain on joints and soft tissues, keeping them healthy from a young age. Once you’ve had the initial assessment and discussion with our physio, your home exercise programme is a cost free and effective way to maintain your dog’s joints.
One final tip is to reconsider taking your pet abroad with you on holiday. It’s lovely for your pets to join you on your travels, but unfortunately following Brexit the pet passport scheme is no longer valid for pets travelling from the UK. Instead, an animal health certificate is required – an extremely lengthy document which the treating veterinarian must fill out. Because this takes so much of the vet’s time (over the time of 3 appointments), it must be charged appropriately, making it very costly. Thus, we ask pet owners to really consider whether they could leave their pet at home with loved ones or with a trusted boarder to save on some of these costs.
The bottom line is, whilst some costs can be unavoidable in serious cases, there are usually options available to you. Please ask us to discuss these with you – we would always rather our clients are upfront if they have financial concerns with their pet’s treatment plan as this enables us to choose the most suitable option from the start. Remember there is no shame in this, we are all well aware of the current financial crunch and most of us are in a similar boat ourselves. By discussing these concerns, we can all work towards plain(er) sailing!