veterinary fees - some important information

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Amanda1801

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Guinea pigs in captivity can have a lifespan of 6-8 years, some may even get as old as 9 or 10! It's inevitable that at some point during their lifetime, they are going to become unwell and need veterinary attention.

Who is responsible?
As a pet owner, whether you own an elephant or a hamster, you are legally responsible to seek veterinary attention if your pet becomes unwell. If you are under 16 years old (in the UK, other countries may vary), your parent(s) have assumed this responsibility, although most veterinary surgeries will require you to attend with an adult if you are under 18 years old.
Withholding veterinary treatment is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act (2006) http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/45/contents

How can I be prepared for vets bills?
There are two main ways in which you can prepare for those unexpected vets bills.

1) Open a savings account. You can put some money aside each week/month, creating a vet fund that you can use to pay your vets bills. This requires an amount of self discipline not to spend the money that you've saved on other things!

2) Pet insurance. You can set up an insurance policy that will pay for vets bills after you have paid a small excess. It's important to read the small print, and is probably best to call and discuss it with a customer services advisor. Currently, the only company to offer pet insurance for guinea pigs in the UK is Exotic Direct (https://www.exoticdirect.co.uk/)

What if I have an unexpected vets bill that I cannot afford?
If your pet requires veterinary attention and you cannot afford it, BE HONEST with the surgery from the beginning. They may only ask for a percentage up front and may be able to set up a payment instalment plan. This is one reason why it is important to use one vet that you are happy with regularly, so that you can build up a relationship with them; a lot of surgeries will be reluctant to set up an instalment plan for clients that they have little financial history for. Your vet may also be able to point you in the direction of services that may be able to help.

If the above is not possible (not all surgeries will agree to instalment plans. Owning a pet is a luxury and a responsibility that you should only undertake if you can afford to do so), some charities exist to help with funding, based on the fact that peoples financial situations can and do change, although they do have eligibility criteria. They are charities that survive on public funding and should not be abused. Examples of such charities include:

PDSA
Eligibility criteria: The owner should be in receipt of housing and/or council tax benefit and live within their catchment area http://www.pdsa.org.uk/pdsa-vet-care/eligibility

RSPCA
http://www.rspca.org.uk/in-action/whatwedo/vetcare

Blue Cross
http://www.bluecross.org.uk/1714/Visit-us.html

If you cannot obtain veterinary treatment after exhausting all of the above avenues, you should consider signing your pet over to a reputable rescue, where they can receive the medical treatment that they require at the time, and in the future.


Added 2013:
We have now created a piggy savvy UK vet locator for our members.
http://www.theguineapigforum.co.uk/pages/guinea-pig-vet-locator/
 

Lilly

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Excellent post Amanda, can we make this a sticky somewhere? :)
I agree. To me having pets is the same as any other member of the family. When the human members of the family get sick we take them to a doctor. When the non-human family members get sick we take them to the vet.

Too many people take on pets without any thought to what they would do if that pet gets ill or injured.
 

gizzy

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An excellent thread !

Could I just add something,That may save somebody money

I recently had occasion to visit an emergency vet, with a sow that had a stone that had migrated from the bladder and was stuck in the urethra and restricting her ability to Wee ,

I have had this problem with other Sows over the years, and luckily my regular vet was able to extract them with a lot of lubrication and a little whiff of gas. The last one I had done by this vet it's only Cost £12, but on another occasion it cost £16,

So you can imagine my horror when I arrived at the emergency vet's(I had never tried this one before) and they presented me with an estimate for £377 , £477 if they are X rayed. I had no choice but to accept their estimate, But declined the X ray , as the sow hadn't wee'd properly in more than 6 hours, And it was too risky to go driving round trying to find a cheaper emergency vet's

It turned out that they were able to extract the stone in exactly the same way as my vet had done in the past and they did not have to enter the bladder

so luckily my bill was £337 .
But it still made a big dent in my Piggie fund.

The point I would like to add, to save anybody the same hefty bill I had,

Phone up emergency vet's in your area before you have a problem ! Find out before hand what the approx charges are for things like X rays /consultation fees /price of in house care by the hour etc.

from a cross section of vet's that are within driving distance to you,

I got an itemized bill from this vet, and since then I have phoned around other emergency vet's, and found that I could've gotten the same procedure done for approximately £180 less .

Obviously they cannot commit themselves to give exact amounts but one of the main expenses is the consultation fee, and I could have saved £50.00 on the consultation fee alone, if I hadn't done my research.:{
 

Ben and Jerry

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I know it shouldn't, and if you really care, wouldn't put you off seeking medical care for your animals but how on earth do they come up with some of their charges? I think its a case of 'think of a number and square it!' Nobody minds paying a fair price but when they seem to take advantage, especially when it comes to an emergency and they think they have you over a barrel it just puts me off using them again. I certainly wouldn't be recommending them! Jo
 

Guinea pig slave

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Our local Vets charge around £17 for a consultation and I've paid as little as £15 so when we took one of our new piggies to a practise that was linked, were shocked to be charged £50 :( As you say, you don't think of the cost when they're ill but I was a little disappointed :(
Our Vet asked us to go to their Exotics practise for another piggy and I was amazed to pay £33 for consultation, antibiotics, pain relief and a gut stimulant - expected it to be around £80 - 100 :))
 

Claire W

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My vets are reasonable priced for the area. For piggies I pay around £20 for a consultation and surgery is anything from £100 to £150 depending on the procedure.

I was given an estimate of £120 for for Eliza's recent eye removal but in the end, I was charged £100.

I guess the training and expertise of each individual vet has to be accounted for too but I agree that some vets are overcharged.
 

Amanda1801

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The way prices are calculated is very complicated.

For example, in an operation, part of what you pay for, is surgical time. If you have a very experienced vet, they're going to be better, quicker and more efficient than a slower, less experienced vet - so in terms of surgical time, you will pay more for less - surgical time is calculated by the average time it takes an average vet to do that procedure. Then there's the usual things like drugs and what not - but there's also things like the staff time required to monitor the animals anaesthetic, the costs involved in cleaning and preparing the equipment, the costs for disposing of things (body parts, contaminated waste etc.), staff costs to clean the theatre, recovery monitoring etc. etc. etc. the list goes on.

You can also expect to pay more for a consultation with a vet who has more experience - e.g. a small animal vet vs. a small animal vet with an exotics certificate.

Where I work, they've recently started showing the entire break down on the invoices of how the charges are made up, with the things listed above. Each procedure (e.g. a spay, a fracture repair, a C-section, whatever) has a set price based on the average time and costs involved. Things vary based on complications (when my Cameo was spayed, they found a lump which also had to be removed for example) and unexpected additional drugs and things (some animals may require more sedation, more pain relief than anticipated, lumps and things may need testing etc.) so things do vary - what we point out to our clients, is that the price given, isn't a quote - it's an estimate - things can and do change!
 

Bekki

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Thought i'd add some of my recent bills in. Consult for a piggy £20, lump removal £140 (including consult), Baytril and Metacam x 10 days supply £20.
 

Happy Pig

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I recently had to take Mavis to the vets for a hay poke to her eye and was given a prescription of Fucithalmic eye drops. They only charged me £45 for the prescription and the consultation. I thought that was pretty good for a Sunday appointment and I had to register with them on the same day.

I haven't had any major vet bills (fingers crossed) yet, and was wondering if anyone had insured their piggies as when I looked on exotic direct the excess was around £50 and I wasn't to sure if this was worth it?
 

Briony_S

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I recently had to take Mavis to the vets for a hay poke to her eye and was given a prescription of Fucithalmic eye drops. They only charged me £45 for the prescription and the consultation. I thought that was pretty good for a Sunday appointment and I had to register with them on the same day.

I haven't had any major vet bills (fingers crossed) yet, and was wondering if anyone had insured their piggies as when I looked on exotic direct the excess was around £50 and I wasn't to sure if this was worth it?
that is fab for a sunday I had to pay around £80/90 on a sunday for emergency hay poke I too got drops, consult and yellow dye in eye
 

Bekki

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£45 for a consult and prescription on any day isnt bad at all :-)

Would it be possible for people to add on their vet bills on here please? Would make a handy resource for newbies to look at so they know what to expect :D
 

Stewybus

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When I see what other people are paying, I'm glad that I have a vet with reasonable rates. These are just 3 payments in the last week:-
Minky - Consultation (fortnightly check-up for head tilt) + Colvasone steroid injection + 5 Cisapride tablets = £24.28
Rhubard - Consultation (inc. removal of 4th toe on back foot) + Loxicom injection = £18.82
Mousey - Surgery to remove abscess (including gas & injections of Loxicom, Baytril & Emeprid) £62.68

Not all weeks are like this but I'm at the vets at least every fortnight with Minky which ate present is £13.50 consultation & £4.92 for Colvasone steroid injection. On top of this I but Bio-Lapis & Fibreplex from Vet UK at least once a month.
 

Bekki

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@Stewybus is that at Jacqui Pattersons? Thats well cheap :D I'm used to £20 for a consult before meds, £30 for consult with a course of baytril :-) over £100 for any op.
 

MushiiPeas

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I'm very lucky i got a free consultation with my vet about Gingers neuter and she has quoted me £73 minus meds for the op, so I've got £100 just in case he needs any different meds!
 

Claire W

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I pay roughly £20 for a consultation at my vets. Anywhere between £100 to £150 for operations, £40 for an ultrasound, £60 for X-rays nd medications varies.

My most recent for Eliza as an example:

Initial consultation and a course of Baytril, metacam and eye drops cost around £30

Surgery to remove her eye including post op medication and post op recheck £100

Second surgery to reopen her eye, clean, restitched and meds £45

Since her eye problem started at the end of August 2013 she has been backwards and forwards to the vets where this has included consultations, cleaning and draining of the wound and apart from paying for medications, saline solution and hibi scrub which I estimate to be around £30, I haven't actually paid for any consultations and most visits have been free of charge.

I should point out that these prices are for guinea pigs. I am yet to take my cats for anything other than vaccinations, neutering and minor problems.
 

Stewybus

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Well at the end of the day it's not the price that's important but the quality of care. I'm just lucky that mine ticks both boxes for price & quality. The funny this is, my previous vet was charging about £125 for the same op that Mousey had yesterday & did 2 unsuccessful ops before I was recommended to current vet by Gwen at Bunny Burrows who would rather make the 50 mile round trip that go to many other vets within 10 miles of where she's based. So paying twice as much doesn't mean they're twice as good! Also with all the vets I've used in this area, I haven't had to pay for post op visits eg check-ups & stitch removal. Minky last year after her abscess removal had 4 visits without any fees to pay apart from meds.
 
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