The Emergency Veterinary Clinic is a small, private practice that specializes in treating pets with emergencies. They have a full-time staff of veterinarians and technicians who are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They also have an on-call veterinarian who is available to treat your pet if they are not able to see him or her immediately.
Do emergency vets cost more?
In most cases, yes. Emergency or out-of-hours veterinary services are more expensive than traditional vets. The reason for this is simple costing practices. Here is an estimated breakdown of the costs related to out-of-hours veterinary care.
Of the total price you are charged for emergency medical treatment, around 65% goes towards clinic staff costs, 6-8% to cover drugs and other consumable equipment, 10% clinical running costs, 13-15% for office costs and a miniscule 5% is profit.
Should I go to the emergency vet?
Approximately 90% of all domestic pets will require some form of emergency or out-of-hours treatment in their lifetime, but when should you use an emergency vet?
If you are unsure whether your pet needs urgent treatment, you should telephone your local emergency vet. A telephone call costs nothing and simply explaining your pet’s symptoms will enable the veterinarian to determine if the situation is urgent.
If your pet displays any of the following symptoms you should seek urgent veterinary care immediately:
- Loss of consciousness
- Breathing difficulties
- Broken, or suspected broken bones
- Significant or prolonged bleeding
- Swelling around the head and/or neck
- Heatstroke symptoms
- Frothing around the mouth
- Chronic vomiting
- Ingestion of toxic substances ie medicine, pesticides, chocolate
- Snakebite (rare)
Listen carefully to any advice the vet gives you over the phone. Be clear if you are unable to get to a vet clinic and give your address so the veterinarian can come to you as quickly as possible.
Do you have to pay emergency vet bills right away?
Ideally, you will want to pay your bill right away, but in reality, this may not be possible. Often, life gets in the way and you may not have the money available.
If you have pet insurance, you should be able to make a claim to cover the cost of the emergency treatment, provided your policy covers the type of care your pet has received.
If you do not have pet insurance or your policy does not cover the treatment, there are other options. Many vets will agree to a payment plan, especially if you have always paid on time for previous visits. This typically involves making a regular monthly payment until the bill is paid.
Can you negotiate vet bills?
Negotiating your vet bills can be tricky. The important thing to remember here is that most of the costs go towards covering clinic fees, medication and staff wages, so very little is profit for the clinic.
Your veterinary clinic may not agree to reduce the fees on your bill, but they may agree to a payment plan instead.
When negotiating your vet bill, be sure to acknowledge the staff staying late to help your pet and that they are giving up precious hours at home with their families.