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Why are vet bills so expensive?

By January 15, 2024 June 10th, 2024 Greenbay Vet News

We know that for many pet owners, vets bills can come as an unwelcome shock, so we wanted to try and explain some of the costs involved in treating your pets.

Simply put, there is no NHS for pets and no government support for veterinary practices as there is in the field of human medicine in the UK. In fact, our fees include VAT at 20% so a big chunk of your bill is tax to the government. Veterinary business owners need to ensure their practice remains viable if they are to continue to serve their clients and pets alike.

Greenbay Vets is basically a small hospital, with all the running costs this entails. It is a complex business operation and needs to take into consideration a range of elements. In brief, these include:

Costs incurred by practice premises

  • Rent/mortgage
  • Maintenance
  • Utility and service bills
  • Fitting out and maintaining clinical areas such as consulting rooms, operating theatres, imaging rooms, dental facilities, pharmacies, laboratories and pet accommodation
  • Ensuring a fit-for-purpose IT system that keeps pace with technology

Provision and maintenance of medical equipment that keeps pace with medical advances

  • At Greenbay we have invested heavily in anaesthetic monitoring equipment to try and make anaesthesia as safe as possible.
  • We have invested in surgical equipment so that we can perform most operations without the need to refer your pet elsewhere.
  • We have invested in diagnostics such as endoscopy and ultrasound, again so we can perform most investigations on site. Just as an example, the ultrasound machine at our Torquay site cost £53,000.

Team costs

  • Salaries including NI and pension contributions. Hopefully you will agree, that despite their love of animals, our team deserve to be paid fairly for their years of training, skills, knowledge and dedication!
  • Professional and indemnity insurance fees
  • Training and development of staff – this is another area we are passionate about, with many of our team holding further qualifications

Other ‘hidden’ costs

  • Compliance with legislation and industry guidance covering veterinary surgeons, procedures, medicines, health and safety, local authority requirements, employment, GDPR, and sustainability to name but a few.
  • Ensuring adequate funds to cover unexpected costs associated with maintaining or repairing the practice facilities or expanding the practice to extend their services.
  • Pro bono and charity work including discounted work to support charities and also managing strays, wildlife, abandoned pets, or injured animals without an identified owner.

Why can you find some drugs cheaper on the internet?

We keep a wide range of medications in stock in order to provide treatment immediately to the animals in our care, including very expensive drugs that are rarely used. We employ colleagues who are trained to not only know what to prescribe, but who can also advise about giving medication to your pet and who will also know how to deal with any suspected side effects. An online drug company only needs to pay the salary of a qualified dispenser, with no other clinic costs. They can also take advantage of bulk purchasing to reduce their buying costs. As a result they can often sell medications to the customer at a lower price than we can buy them in.  You can read more about our prescribing policy here.

Hopefully this gives you some insight into the costs involved in running a veterinary practice. When choosing Greenbay you can also be reassured that we are locally and independently owned, not part of a large corporate group.

Next week we will post an article with some tips for managing the costs of veterinary care for your pets.


  • Tim dodd says:

    And yet in France or Belgium or Holland care is transparent and affordable.
    For example a cruciate operation in England is upwards of 5000 and in France less than 1000. They toot have bills wages and tax to manage. Just not the massive house and Porsche.
    My springer had a cancer of the lymphatic system and we were referred to a specialist clinic in Somerset and had to endure them pay for a speech about how long they had kept a dog alive.
    Put simply you overcharge and obfuscate.
    I suspect you will remove these comments rather than own the shame.

    • greenbayvets says:

      Thank you for your feedback. We cannot comment on the level or cost of veterinary services abroad. We also are fully aware that specialist oncology care is expensive, but hopefully you were given a choice about whether to refer your dog for treatment or not. Unfortunately these type of comments are incredibly harmful to the caring professionals who read them, we can assure you the majority of vets do not have massive houses or sports cars. Perhaps you would consider checking out this website https://www.nomv.org/about/pet-parents/ before you decide to make such comments online in future – thank you.

      We can’t find you as a registered client on our system, but if you are registered with us and wish to discuss the care of any of your pets please do contact us.

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