Why Is The Cost Of Vet Care So Expensive?

For many, the cost of vet care can be prohibitive and it can be difficult to understand why. Read on to learn more about why vets are expensive and how you can minimise costs. 

dr leigh in surgery why is vet care expensive

Last week I posted a question on Facebook asking quite a sensitive question comparing the cost of vet care with the cost of human health care.

The question I asked was why vets and doctors weren’t held to the same standards when it came to saving a life?

For example, it is quite common to read of families raising funds to pay for specialised surgery or care of a loved one.

It is also common to read of vets who are abused and chastised when they will not go out of their way to save an animal until they are paid.

Why is there this double standard?

Pets Are Good For General Health










One of the most challenging, yet rewarding experiences of being a veterinarian is treating an animal when owner finances are restricted.

Caring for our pets and horses doesn’t necessarily have to mean the most expensive treatment is the best. Relief of pain and suffering is always the aim. One thing is important though, please get advice from a veterinarian so that you know that what you are doing is best.

Many of the challenges that vets face aren’t always about how we will treat your animal, but the relationship with you, the owner.

Times are tough for many of us, yet animal ownership is encouraged, particularly to aid mental health.

Often those that can least afford a pet, are those that own a pet and when the animal becomes sick there might be no funds for treatment.

For some people, this is when they take out their frustrations on the veterinarian. This can have devastating consequences, the worst being veterinary suicide.


There Are No Healthcare Benefits For Pets

Unlike human healthcare (particularly in Australia and New Zealand), there is no free healthcare for our pets.


All treatments must be paid for by the owner at the time of treatment. Many practices now ask for payment in full or 50% prior to starting treatment.

For many people, this comes as a huge shock, especially when the cost of treatment can be high (i.e. spinal surgery can cost ~$10k).

In the past some clinics may have offered payment plans, however many vets have been caught out by doing this, with some people never paying their bill. This leaves veterinary practice owners struggling to pay rent, amenities, wages etc.


How Can I Make Sure I Can Afford A Veterinary Emergency?

Emergencies happen when we least expect it, often at night or at times when our regular vet isn’t available.

There are a number of ways you can be prepared:

  • Know the phone number and address of your emergency clinic
  • Consider purchasing Pet Insurance. For some breeds this nearly could be compulsory! ie. brachycephalics
  • Use payment plans like Zip Money, After Money, Vet Pay. Some require a good credit history.
  • Set up a savings account for your pet/horse.
  • Utilise the Your Vet Online service to speak to a vet and determine if you need further treatment, when you need to go to a vet clinic and what you can do yourself.


There is no denying that health care for your pet is expensive.

Responsible ownership means that you need to have the means to pay for healthcare when your animal needs it most.

Utilise pet insurance, savings plans, payment schemes and telehealth via online vets.

Please consider how you talk to your veterinarian. We want the very best for you and your animals. We don’t want to be treated badly because you are unprepared.