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Your pet may be young and healthy, but it’s important to be prepared should an accident happen or illness strike. All pets need to be registered with a veterinary practice, where you can take your animal for routine healthcare and advice, as well as any emergency treatment. If an animal you own or are responsible for is suffering or in pain, you are required under the Animal Welfare Act to take them to a vet.

Follow our guide to choosing a practice and paying for treatment costs...

How to choose a vet practice

There are many factors to consider but ultimately the best vets are the ones who you trust and who will offer the best treatment and care for your pet.

  • A veterinary practice that is easy to reach by foot or car is useful, if you need to get there quickly. It can be helpful if there is a car park too.
  • One of the best ways to choose a vet in your local area is if friends or relatives can recommend one. If you don’t know any pet owners, ask the people you meet at grooming parlours, catteries, kennels and dog walkers.
  • Check to see if a practice is registered with the Practice Standard Scheme (PSS), run by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons which quality assures practices and their facilities. It’s a voluntary scheme so practises that aren’t registered are not necessarily lesser quality, but it can be useful if you are looking for further assurance.
  • All vets in the UK have a duty to provide 24-hour care for their patients. Some will do this themselves while others will use a dedicated out-of-hours provider. Check to see if your practice will have staff on the premises to check on any patients kept in overnight, and ask about arrangements for out-of-hours care, so in an emergency you know who to call and where to go.
  • The staff should be professional, polite and able to answer basic questions about animal care. Always check the specific qualifications of the veterinary nurses to make sure they are able to treat and care for your pet.

Check to see if the Vet Help Direct vet practice directory compares vet practices in your area. It doesn’t list all practises, but where it does you can view images, see staff and get information about opening times, out-of-hours service provision and staff qualifications.

dog vet quote

cat vet quote

Vet costs

  • Some practices will run schemes where a monthly direct debit can be used to cover your pet’s routine veterinary care, for example vaccinations and parasite control. These often also qualify you for a discount on any other services you may need.
  • Occasionally vets bills can be large and while some practices can arrange payment plans, others will require the account to always be settled in full. Knowing which policy your surgery has is useful so you know what to expect if your pet does need extensive care.
  • Based on closed claims from one insurance provider between June 2013 and May 2014, the average cost for vet treatment for a cat ranged from £245 for an abscess up to £875 for a road traffic accident. For a dog, costs ranged from £313 for an inflamed ear canal up to £1,201 for a torn knee ligament.

Vetfoneis a 24-hour service, which works like an NHS Direct for pets, and anyone can call. It is staffed exclusively by UK-qualified veterinary nurses and you can either pay a fixed fee of £12.50 or a rate of £1.53 a minute for your call.


Pet insurance

There four main types of pet insurance, therefore selecting the right policy for you and your pet will come down to personal factors such as the age of your pet, it’s susceptibility to illness and the amount you’re willing to pay in the event your pet needs medical care.

  1. Accident only:

     This will cover your pet in the event of an accident, but not long-term illness. There may also be limits set for time and costs.
  2. Time limited: 

    This will cover illnesses as well as accidents, but only for a limited amount of time and a maximum payout amount may also apply.
  3. Maximum benefit: 

    This can be useful if your pet experiences a chronic or persistent illness. It is a ‘per condition policy’, but as the name suggests without any limit on the length of treatment.
  4. Lifetime: 

    This is the most complete type of pet insurance available, covering all accidents, injuries or illnesses for the lifetime of your pet, subject to limits as advised in the policy. These policies can even include extras such as dental cover and expenses for burial.

How a Satsuma Loan works

If you’re not covered for the costs of treatment by your pet insurance, or are struggling to find alternative ways to cover your pet’s medical expenses, you may consider applying for a Satsuma Loan to cover the costs of emergency treatment.

You could apply to borrow as much as £1,000. If your application is approved, you can pay the loan off in manageable monthly or weekly instalments over a period of 3-12 months.

We don’t charge extra fees. You only need to pay back the loan amount you borrowed along with the agreed amount of interest.


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Representative example: £480 loan repayable over 9 months. 9 monthly repayments of £106.56. Rate of interest 133.1% p.a. fixed. Representative 535% APR. Total amount payable is £959.04