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The truth about cats and dogs... and vet fees

Over 50 per cent of UK households own a pet, but the cost of basic veterinary treatments can vary greatly across the UK, according to new research by Which?

Pet owners in England can pay up to 50 per cent more for a basic check up than pet owners in Northern Ireland, while the cost of booster injections over the lifetime of a cat can vary by £636 across the UK.

Vet fees also vary within regions, with the cost of spraying a dog costing between £98 and £255 in the London and the South East region.

Out of hours care can also prove costly, with owners paying more than double for an examination.

To get the best value out of vet practices, Which? gives the following advice:

• Ensure your vet is fully qualified, and is licensed by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS)
• Phone around to get quotes from different vets in your area, and agree a price before treatment starts
• Be crystal clear about what work is to be done before the vet starts, so that no unnecessary charges are incurred
• If you are unhappy with a price, question it. Vets are required to charge only a reasonable price, but you will need to prove the charge is excessive by comparing it to other local practices.
• Try to resolve any problems directly with the vet, but if this doesnít work, the RCVS can step in on matters of professional conduct
• Consider taking out insurance. In new research out today, the AA Gold Policy is named the Which? Best Buy for the highest level of cover on both cat and dog policies. Argos leads the way as the Best Buy for mid-level cover for both cats and dogs.