How much do vet bills cost? What you need to know

Written by Napo HQ
5th Apr 2022
7 min read
Although a balanced diet and regular exercise should help to minimise your pet’s trips to the vet, accidents still happen. Unexpected vet bills can cost hundreds to tens of thousands of pounds, so pet insurance provides peace of mind should your pet need emergency treatment.
Vet fees are an inevitability of pet ownership. And since there’s no NHS for pets, you’ll need to pay for any medical tests and treatments that your pet needs to keep them healthy.
Vet fees are not standardised either, so the cost of their treatment can vary dramatically depending on the species of pet being treated, their size and age, what procedure they need, and where they’re being treated. 
So how much do vet bills actually cost? Is pet insurance worth paying for? We explain the expense of unexpected vet trips and why owners should consider the safety net that insurance provides.

Is prevention better than cure?

As the saying goes, “prevention is better than cure”, especially in the case of two of
the most common conditions
affecting pets - obesity or dental disease - which are both preventable.
Obesity not only shortens your pet’s life by
2.5 years
, it raises their risk of chronic conditions like arthritis and diabetes, which bring ongoing costs of managing the condition for the rest of your pet’s life.
Yet all it takes to help keep your pet happy and healthy is regular exercise and a healthy diet.
dental disease
87% of dogs and 70% of cats
over 3 years old. And although having your dog’s teeth professionally cleaned might seem expensive, it’s often cheaper than having to pay for tooth extractions and treatment for dental disease, and saves your pet from a lot of pain too.
Keeping your pet fit and feeding them a complete diet will go a long way in making sure they stay healthy too. So will routine grooming and
teeth cleaning
. Regular check-ups with the vet can also help you to understand your pet’s health and diagnose and treat problems early, saving you the emotional and financial cost of their condition worsening.
However, you can’t take health for granted. Even if you do everything right to try and prevent your pet becoming poorly, accidents and unforeseen illness can still happen, so it’s always best to be prepared for any unexpected vet bills.

Is it worth having pet insurance?

Although preventative care will help to keep your pet fit and healthy, accidents and unforeseen illness could still strike. That’s why it’s wise to have a plan for when things go wrong.
Veterinary treatment is usually the most expensive part of owning a pet so you need to know how you’ll cover the cost. It’s always a good idea to have some sort of pet insurance as a safety net designed to help you to cover the cost of any unexpected vet bills.
Not many people have the cash to pay for vet bills totalling hundreds if not thousands of pounds, which is why a vet insurance policy is vital to help cover the costs of treating your pet.
Hopefully, you won’t have to face any extraordinary vet bills. But if you ever do,
lifetime pet insurance
from providers like
are available to help cover the cost.

Examples of vet bills

To help you understand how much healing your pet could cost, we spoke to vet Dr Louisa Lane to discuss the price of veterinary procedures. It turns out even “short term” illnesses like vomiting and diarrhoea can cost up to £2000 if your pet needs continued testing and treatment. 
But it’s the unforeseen costs of accidents and sudden illnesses that sting the most, especially if owners don’t have a plan in place to cover vet fees. Here are a few more examples of animal accidents and illnesses, and how much it cost to make these pets happy and healthy again.

One feline’s fall cost £4000

Summer was a young and healthy 2 year-old cat housecat, until a fall left her with a broken ulna and a dislocated elbow which required surgery. So far the vet bills have racked up to £4000, and she’s still being treated for her injuries.

The Schnauzer that ate something it shouldn’t

Pets eating things they shouldn’t is one of the most common causes of accident and injury, and you can expect to pay £1200-2000 to treat it, if not more.
For example, 6 year-old Schnauzer cross Lola had to fight for her life after eating rat poison. She developed severe haemothorax (blood in her chest) which required referral, blood transfusions, and a stay in intensive care which saved her life but left a £6000 vet bill.

A pulled tail cost a packet

Having your pet go missing is worrying enough, but even after 8 year-old British Shorthair Sidney reappeared, he came home with a nasty injury after someone had pulled his tail. Several of his vertebrae had been dislocated, and he suffered nerve damage which affected his bladder and bowel. There was no choice but to amputate the tail and for Sidney to stay in ICU, and the combination of tests and treatments added up to £4000.

Heart disease and bladder stones led to a heartbreaking £10k fee

Reudi the 2 year-old
Sphynx cat
had developed a heart disease called Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). But the real problem came when he presented with a urethral obstruction, and acute kidney injury caused by the stone stuck in his urethra.
This sickly Sphynx had to have a stay in intensive care and needed multiple tests including contrast imaging, blood and urine analysis, ultrasounds, and CT scans to see what was wrong before receiving a perineal urethrostomy. Altogether, Reudi’s vet bills came to a combined total topping £12,000.

Some breeds are prone to problems

Some dog breeds are prone to certain health problems due to their shape. In the case of
French Bulldogs
, they often have fragile spines.
This was certainly the case for Toff the 3 year-old French Bulldog who stopped walking on her back legs properly in November 2020. After an MRI to see what the problem was, she was diagnosed with IVDD and underwent a hemilaminectomy. All her tests, surgery, and post-op care came to a grand total of £9000.
But a year later in November 2021, Toff started suffering from neck pain and ataxia. She was diagnosed with IVDD in her neck and after another MRI and operation, her owners were left with a similarly large vet bill all over again.

What support is available to help cover my vet bills?

Here at Napo, we understand how stressful a sick pet can be, even without having to worry about money. That’s why we protect your pet from tooth to tail, so you don’t need to worry about vet bills and can focus on helping your furry friend feel better. We also keep
our excess low
, so it won't get in the way of affording the best care. To understand what we cover and help you decide what policy is best for your and your pet, get
an instant quote

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