Having to take your pet for emergency medical treatment can be very scary. Getting your furry friend fighting fit again is your main priority of course, but the thought of being slapped with a huge vet’s bill afterwards can make it even more stressful.
Here’s what you need to know before choosing an emergency vet.
Accidents can happen when you least expect it and illnesses can progress quickly in animals, so it’s always best to contact your vet if you’re concerned about your pet. Generally, if your pet is experiencing any of the following, you should seek emergency vet treatment immediately:
You’ll usually have access to 24/7 emergency medical treatment when you register with a vet, whether that’s at their practice or at a nearby veterinary facility (within an hour’s drive).
If your pet needs vital treatment during surgery opening hours, contact your vet to find out the course of action rather than just turning up at the practice, so they can be prepared for your arrival.
If it’s outside of surgery hours, you’ll be able to find the contact details for 24/7 emergency care on your vet’s website or there may be information on their voicemail message.
For vet surgeries that have emergency treatment facilities that differ from their normal location, it’s worth finding out where it is and how long it takes to drive there when you register your pet.
The average cost of an emergency vet’s consultation in the UK is £200, according to research by ManyPets in June 2022.
However, this can vary depending on where you live in the UK. An emergency vet appointment in Scotland was the most expensive on average at £245.72 and London was the cheapest at £172.25.
It’s worth noting that this price is only for a consultation and any treatment your pet receives will cost extra. There may even be different rates depending on whether you take your pet in on a weekend or bank holiday - sometimes the time of night will even affect the cost.
If your pet has an accident or becomes severely ill throughout the day, you can usually go to your local vet for treatment. Typically, they’ll have space during their opening hours to accommodate any emergencies.
When they close for the day, your vet may operate overnight with a small number of staff or have a vet on call to see to any emergencies.
Alternatively, you may be directed to a separate facility that operates 24/7.
If it’s not provided at the practice your pet is registered at, you may be directed towards a practice run by:
Vets Now operate over 60 out-of-hours practices nationwide and three 24/7 surgeries.
They treat around 200,000 small animals every year.
You may have seen this company operating inside Pets At Home stores. Although not all of these operate a 24/7 service, there are some emergency vet hospitals located around the UK.
MediVet is a huge chain of vets with over 400 practices around the UK, and 27 surgeries open 24/7.
MiNightVet works exclusively outside of normal practice hours for local vets, who must be registered with them to offer their services to customers.
Your vet will receive full notes and x-rays from MiNightVet, so that they have full knowledge of your pet’s condition for further treatment, if necessary.
This is a charity which operates a number of emergency vet surgeries located in North Wales and North West England.
You’re able to take your pet even if you’re not a member, but you’ll be required to pay a £20 registration fee on top of the £65 out-of-hours fee before 11pm. Between 11pm and 8am, you’ll need to pay £139 for an out-of-hours consultation.
There are also independent out-of-hours veterinary hospitals available that will service a number of different surgeries in the local area.
You may even be able to register with them if you don’t want to use the emergency vet affiliated with your practice, for whatever reason.
Generally, they’ll cost more because their team is specially trained to deal with emergencies and they work overnight, as well as during weekends and holidays, to provide your pet with the best care.
They also usually have hi-tech equipment that you might not be able to access in a local surgery, like CT scanners and MRI machines.
It’s usually dictated by the vet you’re registered with. If they don’t provide 24-hour emergency care, they’ll be linked with a surgery that does, the contact information for which will be available on your vet’s website.
Certain emergency vets (Vets Now and Animal Trust, for example) will see any pet though, so it’s always worth checking to see which ones are local to you if you need to get there quickly. You may be required to pay a higher fee than if you were registered with them though.
The first port of call should always be to contact your registered vet.
Even if you have pet insurance, you may need to pay for treatment before claiming it back from your insurer, but it will depend on the policy.
Alternatively, you may need to pay for some parts of the emergency care. You can find out whether this is the case by contacting your insurer.
You may want to think about putting some money aside, so that in the event of a medical emergency, you won’t have to worry about how you’re going to cover vet bills and can focus fully on your pet.
Yes, your pet insurance should cover the costs of emergency care, but there may be certain limits to watch out for depending on the policy.
For instance, you might only be allowed to claim up to a certain amount for out-of-hours incidents, which may not be anywhere near the actual cost you end up paying. It’s always best to check your policy carefully for exclusions and any limits.
Keep all receipts and documentation relating to any emergency treatment your pet receives as evidence to support your claim.
The payout will either be sent straight to the vets or to you.
Before registering your pet for emergency care:
You can’t prepare for everything, but you may want to think about: