Eight ways to cut your vet bills

Updated on 26 September 2012 | 7 Comments

Here are eight ways to cut the cost of your vet bills.

Twelve million pet owners don't have insurance, so if you're one of those millions, what's the best way to save on vet visits without risking the health of your pet?

1. Go at the cheapest time of day

If we’re talking non urgent appointments, like going along for inoculations, claw clipping or repeat medication, avoid peak time as charges can be higher. At my local surgery the price for a consultation goes up from 6pm on weekdays and on Saturday mornings. I only recently discovered this by reading the small print.

Check if charges vary at your vet as if you’re able to pop in with your pet before work or on a day off you can save money.

2. Get everything done in one go

Most vets charge per consultation, so if you’re in and out in two minutes or ten it’s often the same charge. This means it can be worth asking advice on a couple of issues or say asking your vet to clip your pet’s claws while you're there for another problem, rather than making a separate appointment.

3. Ask your vet for a prescription

If your pet needs regular medication, you can save money ordering the drugs from online veterinary pharmacies rather than buying direct from your vet. However, any ‘prescription’ medicine ordered must be backed up by a valid prescription from your vet, so you’ll need to factor in any costs made by your vet for supplying this if you’re going elsewhere.

As a rough guide, vets may charge around £10 - £15 for writing a three month prescription and in some cases you may be charged prescription costs on a ‘per item’ basis.

But you can still save money this way. After one of my cats was diagnosed with an overactive thyroid problem I shopped around for her tablets. The medication she’s on, (‘Vidalta’), was costing me £25 from the vet for a 30 day supply of the 10mg size.

But after a few minutes online I found a month’s supply for £10.80 from www.medicanimal.com or £15.50 through www.petdispensary.co.uk with both offering free delivery or £41.79 for 100 days with www.hyperdrug.co.uk which works out around £12.50 for a month’s supply plus a £3.50 delivery charge.

Even adding in my vet’s prescription charges of £10.80 a time, buying online means I can save over £30 every three months.

4. How can you be sure online outlets are ok?

The British Veterinary Association has raised concerns about this and there’s now a voluntary accreditation scheme run by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate. Right now there’s just a handful of names listed which can carry the logo on their website and you can find a list of accredited members at www.vmd.defra.gov.uk which includes several of the sites flagged up in this article.

5. Shop around for ‘run of the mill’ treatments

For things like flea and worming treatments it’s also worth shopping round. While some vets may claim products are ‘hard’ to find beyond their surgery doors, in most cases you can find everything from food to flea treatments heaps cheaper by shopping around.

Brand name flea treatments like ‘Frontline’ can be bought in vets where you can be charged around £25 for a pack of 3 treatments for a medium size dog (10-20kg size), or you can order the same treatment online from sites like www.mrpets.co.uk for £15.69 including free delivery. Even Amazon and superstores like Pets at Home sell these at prices that can undercut the vet.

However, while you can buy much cheaper treatments than these for around £5 in some supermarkets these brands may not be as strong as the ones sold by vets or online pharmacies so check that you’re buying the same strength brand.

And if your vet is recommending a specific treatment, get them to write it down for you along with the size and price they charge so you can make a quick and easy comparison when shopping around.

6. Choose a different vet

Vets can and do charge different prices for treatment and drugs and there’s no obligation to stick with the same one so if you’ve got a choice of local surgeries it’s worth checking their fees as well as recommendations.

7. Don’t fall for the extras

The shelves may be stacked with toys, pet food and even those smelly candles that claim to get rid of pet odour, but just like those racks of magazines near the supermarket tills, they’re there to tempt you into spending more. So check the price, shop around, and if it’s better value at the vets you can always pop back to buy it.

8. Pay in instalments

They may not publicise it but some vets will let you pay in instalments for treatment if you’re a regular customer. Or if you’re claiming certain benefits you can get reduced cost treatment from one of the Blue Cross www.bluecross.org.uk or PDSA centres www.pdsa.org.uk across the country.

More on pets:

Cut the cost of pets

How to save if you have a pet

Money and pets: all your questions are answered


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