The £2 Billion Juggernaut That Keeps Pushing Its Prices Up

Following the recent news that the CMA (Competitions and Markets Authority) is actively investigating the steep rise in veterinary fees since the advent of Brexit, many pet owners are wondering whether the veterinary industry, which is worth more than £2 billion a year in the UK alone, is overcharging its customers and their owners, or whether there are legitimate reasons why the cost of vet fees has been rising faster than that of any other goods or services during the current economic crisis.

Even the smallest increase in a veterinary bill can be a bitter financial pill to swallow, given that the PDSA estimates that it costs between £5,000 and £15,000 to care for a dog during its lifetime. And while it’s a price that every pet owner is more than happy to pay, finding the extra money to pay an unexpected vet bill can be more than a little difficult. Especially when those vet bills keep going up and up. So, why have vet fees skyrocketed since Brexit?

One of the most immediate effects of Brexit was the see-sawing value of the pound, which pushed up the price of imported goods, including medicine, drugs and the medical equipment necessary for veterinary care. This, in turn, puts pressure on vet practices, leading to cost increases that, unfortunately, have been passed on to their patients’ parents.

Leaving the EU meant that the UK had to establish its own regulations for importing and exporting animals and animal products. New regulatory hurdles and administrative requirements have added layer after layer of red tape, and cutting through it soaks up resources, time, and expertise, which means more costs for vets, owners and pets.

During lockdowns and periods of uncertainty, many people turned to pets for companionship and comfort, and ownership rose by an unprecedented level, as more than 60% of UK households now own a pet. This surge has put unprecedented demand on vet surgeries, leading to longer waiting times and a need for more staff and resources. Unfortunately, meeting this increased demand has led to bigger bills for parents.

Then there are the operational costs, including rent, utilities, insurance, and salaries for skilled staff, that vets face. They’ve been steadily rising, and practices are compelled to adjust their fees to cover these rising operational costs, making pet care more expensive for owners.

But it isn’t just Brexit that’s to blame. The rise in inflation during the last two years has pushed the cost of almost every day-to-day item to eye-watering levels, and as there isn’t an NHS for animals, there’s no free treatment for any pet in the UK. It’s an expense that owners have always had to bear, and when inflation rises, so does the cost of keeping your best furry friend safe and well. It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances that pets and their owners have been and will continue to be, forced to shoulder

While the increase in vet fees is a huge concern for pet owners, it’s essential to remember that the well-being of our beloved animals remains a top priority. Owners are encouraged to explore pet insurance options, which can help offset some of the costs associated with taking a trip to the vet and helping them weather the worst economic storm that we are currently caught up in.

David Brewer, a dedicated pawrent and the CEO and co-founder of Protect Line said: “The news that vet bills are rising faster than anything else in the UK highlights why pet insurance isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. If you want to be sure that you can afford to take your pal to the vet without worrying about whether or not you’ll be able to afford the bill at the end of the visit, then you need pet insurance. By paying a little monthly, you’ll save a lot and help your pet live a long, healthy and happy life.”