Showing posts with label veterinary services. Show all posts
Showing posts with label veterinary services. Show all posts

Saturday 6 July 2024

Woman still in debt after £8,000 vet bill for bulldog

You don't want to be in this position where you are torn between the love of your companion animal, in this case a bulldog, and the heavy price that you have to pay with almost no end to forking out money, to fix a very expensive pet medical problem. This is what happens: veterinarians know that cat and dog owners will be very likely to fork out thousands of pounds for medical issues because of their tight emotional connection with their pets. The alternative is to euthanise the companion animal which is unthinkable to many people.

Vet bills are increasing and some dog breeds are inherently prone to chronic illness due to irresponsible breeding practices. Image: MikeB

In this instance, Roy the bulldog fell ill in September. His owner, Tracey Higgins immediately took him to the vet and after several trips the final bill has come to almost £8,200. All from savings and credit cards.

She lives in East London with her husband Kevin. Roy is seven years old. He began to vomit and lost weight quickly.

Initial tests cost £180 but the bill snowballed.

The veterinarian recommended that Roy stay for three nights in an animal hospital where more tests, scans and medications were administered. He was discharged from that hospital with a £3,500 bill at which point Tracey began to panic about the escalating costs. There was no guarantee he would get better but she said that: "We couldn't not have him treated. We are responsible for him and love him."

A part of Roy's small intestine was severely inflamed and over the next three months there were further tests and medications administered costing £3500 and after that further veterinary visits and tests racked up another £995.

As I said pet owners have no choice but to go down this black hole of veterinary costs sometimes with no end in sight.

In the UK, the price of veterinary care and other pet services has jumped about 40% since 2020 according to the Office for National Statistics.

It's a huge dilemma and a great worry for many pet owners. Tracey Higgins had cancelled her pet insurance which cost £250 a month. That alone is a very heavy expense. It covered Roy and the couple's other dog Bonnie. She cancel the insurance policy six months before Roy fell ill.

The couple had regularly saved into an account for vet bills which had accrued £2,000 when Roy needed treatment. They raided other savings and used credit cards to pay the bill.

Higgins said that she was "shocked by the size of the bills and concerned by the ongoing treatment as the cost just kept building up. It was very expensive and we still have some of that debt hanging over us. But we are relieved he has come through it. In some respects it was money well spent because we still have Roy."

The Competition and Markets Authority are investigating the £2 billion vet industry because there are concerns about dramatically increased costs as mentioned and that pet owners are overpaying for medicines and being kept in the dark about the cost of treatments.

In addition, it's probably fair to say that the bulldog is an inherently unhealthy animal or perhaps I'm being unfair but the French bulldog for instance, is, in my estimation, the most unhealthy companion animal you can adopt. You can read about that by clicking on this link.

It's a double whammy effect with purebred dogs becoming less healthy because of inbreeding and veterinary bills becoming more expensive because they been bought up by big conglomerates who are trying to squeeze more profit out of what were independent veterinarians focusing on and prioritising medical health treatment rather than making a profit.

Source: The Times July 6th 2024 (main story).


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Tuesday 2 April 2024

Pet owners falling prey to extortionist corporate veterinary clinics

UK: Max Hastings a Times journalist has lambasted the veterinary profession in the UK which has deteriorated dramatically since the predatory and greedy corporate entities bought up thousands of independent veterinary in which the practices were owned by the partnership - the veterinarians working at the clinic. 

These were the charming, old-fashioned vets who more often than not focused on providing the best possible veterinary care rather than prioritising financial profit which is what vet clinics that are part of a chain now appear to do more often than not.

Max Hastings said this about a personal experience:
I heard last week of a friend's daughter who has resigned from private practice in disgust at the price gouging of its management, the relentless pursuit of financial targets and increased drug sales. This young woman now works instead for a charity, the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals. Meanwhile our local vet has just quoted us a price of £750 for removing a benign cyst from a dog's ear.
The Competition and Markets watchdog is investigating. Hastings believes that the trust of pet owners in their vets is being betrayed. He says that "we are struggling to identify a practice not owned by extortionists".

There is chain vets near me. A friend of mine asked me to take a guinea pig to a local Goddard vets. They are one of these corporate vets - a chain of outlets. And the vet there used four capsules of insecticide to treat a parasitic infection that appeared to have cleared up when probably one capsule would have done. And he smeared half of it in the fur and not on the skin. That looked like price gouging to me.

Two more case studies

My thanks to Bing's Co-pilot for researching these case studies.

Pet owners across the UK are grappling with staggering vet bills, leaving them feeling cornered and financially strained. The veterinary industry, valued at £2 billion, has come under scrutiny due to exorbitant costs and questionable value for money. Let’s delve into some real-life experiences shared by pet owners who have faced eye-watering expenses and unexpected financial burdens.

Case Studies:

  1. Dave Bicker’s Parson Russell Terrier, Rufus:

    • Rufus developed glaucoma, necessitating eye removal surgery.
    • The initial cost for tests and eye drops was £300.
    • The vet offered two options: an immediate operation for £800 or a £200 cheaper alternative in Derby.
    • Bicker’s colleagues generously pooled funds to cover the bill.
    • When Rufus needed a second enucleation, the cost had skyrocketed to £1,750 within just two-and-a-half years.
    • Bicker laments the lack of affordable vets and suspects price adjustments to match industry standards.
  2. Laura’s Experience with Dental Plaque Removal:

    • Laura’s rescue cat, Bella, required plaque removal from her teeth.
    • A London vet chain quoted an astonishing £900 for the procedure, insisting Bella be anesthetized.
    • While vacationing in France, Laura sought a local vet’s opinion.
    • The French vet charged a mere €33 (approximately £28) for the same procedure, completed in five minutes without anesthesia.
    • Laura was astounded by the stark contrast in costs between the UK and France.

Industry Investigation:

The UK’s competition watchdog has launched an investigation into the veterinary services industry, aiming to address concerns of potential overcharging and lack of transparency1.

Pet owners find themselves caught in a delicate balance between their beloved companions’ health and financial strain. As the debate continues, it’s clear that affordable and accessible veterinary care remains a pressing issue for many.

Published on September 8, 2023

Read the full article on The Guardian

P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Wednesday 27 December 2023

American families dump pets as costs surge

NEWS AND COMMENT: Although some shelters have quite definitely gone against the grain in terms of having too many cats and dogs to rehome [check out the empty shelter], in general, The Times reports that US families are dumping pets as the cost to keep them has become untenable. This is mainly due to inflation and lack of proper long-term budgeting, I believe.

The Times reports that American animal shelters are at their most overcrowded in years. The reason? Fears over the economy. And the end of boom times when many dogs and cats were adopted during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

I feel (I hope not harshly) that many people adopted dogs and cats who shouldn't have. This was impulse adoption without really doing due diligence to figure out the costs and even more importantly to check out the health of the animal that they were adopted. 

That last point particularly applies to the French Bulldog which is one breed which is being dumped on shelters faster than many other breeds. Clearly the owners have found out how expensive they can be to take care of.

However, many adoptions were carried out responsibly. Many people relinquishing their companion animals have lived with them for a long time. It's be tough for some to consider relinquishing their pets.

However, according to the Shelter Animals Count, there are an estimated 250,000 more companion animals in shelters this Christmas then there were over the same period last year.

And it appears that many if not most kennel operators say that they are in crisis. Their facilities were already overcrowded before the Christmas festivities.

As mentioned there was a sharp rise in pet ownership during the pandemic. One in five households in America had a companion animal according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

There are fears over the economy in America and the rising cost of living. The cost of owning a pet is out of reach for many. They decided to abandon their animals.

Kim Alboum, of the Bissell Pet Foundation, an animal welfare organisation, said that "The economy right now is really challenging for a lot of families. And with the housing crisis, people are losing their homes and our having to downsize or move in with others. And this is a recipe for disaster for people that have larger dogs."

The Times reports that shelters are experiencing a big influx of puppies in particular including those of the French Bulldog breed as mentioned. There's been a period of inflation recently in America resulting in vets and pet product businesses raising their prices making it even more expensive to be a pet owner.

I'm told that veterinary prices jumped by 9% from November 2022-November 2023 according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics. Pet food costs rose by 5.6% over the same period.

Sarah Barnett runs an animal shelter in Philadelphia. She says that she has seen hard economic times which has challenged pet owners financially.

She said that people are losing their jobs have to decide between putting food on their table or feeding their companion animal. They've been left with few options.

Obviously, many people giving up their companion animals have had a very long term and good relationships with them. And I agree with Sarah Barnett in that not all people self-indulgently adopted cats and dogs during the pandemic. 


The story really highlights a very valuable point namely that looking after a companion animal properly is expensive. You can't do it properly on a shoestring. Perhaps the first stage in the adoption process is to check your budget, work out the maths, and make sure you maximise the chances that you can and will be able to afford to look after your new friend to a good standard for the remainder of their lives.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Friday 6 May 2022

UK: number of neutered cats fell from 91 to 86% in 2020 due to Covid

NEWS AND COMMENT - UK: The legacy of Covid is with us in the world of cats because it is reported that the pandemic has caused the number of neutered cats in the UK to fall from 91 to 86% in 2020. The reason: cat owners were frightened to go to a veterinary clinic because of the fear of getting Covid.

Cat at a veterinary clinic in the UK
Cat at a veterinary clinic in the UK. Photograph: Getty images

The problem is compounded by the fact that more people than usual adopted cats and dogs during the Covid pandemic as company at home during lockdowns. The two changes in human behaviour combined resulted in more than the usual number of unsterilised domestic cats. This in turn produced more unwanted litters which further in turn has put rescue charities under increased pressure as the number of unwanted cats has increased at their rescue centres.

One veterinary clinic is offering low-cost neutering and spaying for eligible cat owners on low incomes in the Bristol area: Bristol Animal Rescue Centre. The cost of neutering a male cat at this centre is £30. Spaying of female cats costs £45 to eligible pet owners across Bristol. I am sure that there are many more clinics offering the same service to try and rectify what is a problem caused by Covid.

The RSPCA report that over 1 million cats remain unneutered in the UK resulting in an unprecedented increase in cat breeding.

The Independent newspaper reported that the RSPCA had warned that these conditions might lead to hordes of cats roaming the streets. I think that was an exaggeration. A bit of good news according to Cats Protection is that the number of cats neutered under four months of age rose from 22% in 2020 to 24% in 2021. This was a welcome increase in the uptake of pre-pubertal neutering by the veterinary profession.

Saturday 4 December 2021

Microchip your cat or face £500 fine cat owners are warned (UK)

Compulsory dog micro-chipping has been in place since 2016 in the UK. It's now the turn of cats. In England, from 2023, all cat owners will be required to have their feline companions microchip or face a fine of up to £500. It's finally coming about. There's been a discussion for a long time about compulsory micro-chipping in the UK. However, it is not as simple as simply enacting a law because with respect to dog micro-chipping the law is marginally workable as there are too many microchip databases.

Lost cats can be reunited with microchips
You don't have to rely on a veterinary clinic to scan for a chip. You can do it. If you find a lost cat you can reunite that cat with their owner. You can purchase a scanner on Amazon for about £50. The scanner will tell you the chip number. You can then find out online which chip company has that number and contact the chip company.

There has been a delay in introducing mandated cat micro-chipping due to a review taking place into the regulations on micro-chipping of dogs. Veterinarians have raised concerns that the system which requires registering the microchip on about 15 separate databases can cause problems when trying to reunite dogs with their owners.

Microchip. Pic in public domain.

Defra plans to improve the database system before introducing mandated micro-chipping to cats.

There are over 10.8 million cat companions in the UK. I'm told by The Times newspaper that as many as 2.8 million are un-chipped. And 80% of stray cats brought to Cats Protection are not microchip.

Under the new law, can owners will have to ensure that their pet is microchipped before they reach the age of 20 weeks. Further, the contact details will need to be kept up-to-date on the database. Failure to comply with the law could result in a £500 fine if they do not rectify the problem within 21 days.

Lord Goldsmith, an animal lover and a friend of Carrie Johnson, who I suspect is pushing for these changes to animal welfare laws, said:

"Cats are much-loved parts of our families and making sure they're microchipped is the best way of making sure that you are reunited with them if they are ever lost or stolen."

The new rules will help protect millions of cats across the country. They are part of the government's Action Plan for Animal Welfare according to Lord Goldsmith.

Jacqui Cuff, the head of advocacy at Cats Protection said:

"Every day, we see how important micro-chipping is for cats and for people who love them - whether it's reuniting a loss cat with their owner, identifying an injured cat, or helping to ensure an owner can be informed in the said event that their cat has been hit and killed by a car."

The BVA (British Veterinary Association) are very much behind the new law but they are adamant that the database issue is dealt with in order to make the law effective.

P.S. In 2016, the Daily Record reported that at that time there were up to 6 firms operating separate databases in the UK which, it is claimed, made it almost impossible to operate. Some veterinarians said that the compulsory micro-chipping of dogs was unworkable as a result. There are other databases in Europe, the US and Canada. These databases are meant to be part of a network so they are cross-referenced but apparently this is not always the case. On occasions it seems that you can key in the microchip number for a dog that you know is micro-chipped and registered but the database comes up with a "no registration found" warning. This is the problem referred to by Lord Goldsmith.

Comment: one problem I foresee is enforcing the law. How does an official know whether a cat is micro-chipped or not? I suspect that the only time it will become apparent is when a lost cat is found and scanned by a veterinarian. If that cat is not microchipped and the owner can be found then they will be in line for a fine, potentially.

Monday 22 November 2021

21 points about the alleged scam to get people to donate to treat a sick rescue cat

This is a compressed summary in bullet fashion of an alleged scam concerning a community cat who needed expensive med treatment to be paid for via online donations. Scroll down for the bones of the story.

Gogi - alleged but not true
Gogi - alleged but not true. Pic: FB

Alleged fake vet bill
Alleged fake vet bill. Pic: FB.

  1. This is a story about an alleged scam by a 20-year-old woman who gave the impression she lived in Singapore;
  2. She called herself Nora Nur;
  3. She said that she had rescued a community cat from Punggol, Singapore. She claimed the cat had been abandoned;
  4. She had called the cat Gogi;
  5. On the Facebook group Sayang Our Singapore's Community Cats she asked for donations, small amounts like $5.10 dollars;
  6. She uploaded pictures of the cat and a veterinarian's bill from a real veterinary surgery: Frankel Veterinary Centre;
  7. She said the cat needed expensive treatment: 6,000 Singapore dollars for feline infectious peritonitis treatment and 800 Singapore dollars for a hysterectomy;
  8. It is quite common for cat rescuers to seek donations on Facebook for veterinary treatment;
  9. Allegedly, she was using this fact to get donations from people who are sympathetic towards rescue cat;
  10. A member of the above Facebook group, Lee Siew Yian, did some research and decided that her appeal for donations was a scam;
  11. They decided that the vet bill was a fake and the photographs of the cat were also faked. The pictures of the cat were taken from other pages on social media and there was no such cat called Gogi in need of expensive veterinary surgery and treatment;
  12. The veterinary clinic concerned confirmed that they did not issued the aforesaid bill and neither had they treated a cat with that name;
  13. This got back to the police and they investigated;
  14. Police officers from Bedok Police Division establish the identity of the 20-year-old woman and arrested her;
  15. 60 people had donated to her alleged fake cause;
  16. A 25 year-old man is assisting police investigations;
  17. Nora Nur changed her story said that the cat and her diseases were real but that the cat lived in Vietnam and not Singapore. She had tried to raise money in Vietnam without success. She therefore had sought funding through the Internet on a Singapore community cat Facebook webpage instead of in Vietnam;
  18. Nur has been criticised by people for using animals as part of a scam to get money off people;
  19. Nur apologised for what she's done and said that she will give the money back to the people who donated. She insisted that the fundraising operation had indeed occurred in Vietnam and that she had never tried to scam money. She sincerely apologised.
  20. Nur and her mother decided to sponsor all of Gogi's medical bills. I take this to mean that between them they will pay the bills;
  21. Can anybody trust her bearing in mind what she has done? Is she now telling the truth?

Hi everyone, after talking & talking, I have made a decision. All donors that transferred money to Davis Account...

Posted by Nora Nur on Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Tuesday 16 February 2021

Picture of overweight, startled gray cat tells a story

You know the saying 'a picture is worth a thousand words' well this picture of a badly overweight gray, startled cat being carried by a smiling woman got me thinking about the backstory. Is the young woman the cat's owner? Is the room a kitchen in a residential home or is the woman a veterinarian or vet tech and is the room a part of a veterinary clinic? Or, an animal shelter - my preferred choice. You can see how pictures can also mislead. They don't always tell the truth even if they are worth a thousand words. Fake news comes to mind.

Obese large gray cat with smiling woman who carries the cat
Is this a vet clinic or a kitchen in a residential home? Pic:

Looking at what is on the counter (medical stuff?) and the general layout and functionality of the place, this looks like an animal shelter of veterinary clinic. The cat might have been brought into the clinic for a health check and to start a diet which is sorely needed. The diet should be immediate, gradual and permanent to avoid hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease being started). But he is probably an abandoned cat at a cat shelter or the owner has died leaving behind this chonky feline.

Putting aside the cat's obesity, which is unpleasant to see, the cats' face is cute. Startled and bemused. Domestic cats do pull some funny faces but they are fleeting moments captured by the camera.

Someone commented that the cat could be pregnant too. I think this is just good old, plain obesity. Killing by kidness. It is ironic that some cat owners give their cats treats because they feel it is the kind thing to do, as it pleases their pleading cat, but in truth it is a silent form of cat abuse.

Feline obesity causes real harm to health over time. Type II diabetes immediately comes to mind as a consequence of obesity just as it is for humans. There is an epidemic of obese domestic cats just as there is an epidemic of obese humans in the greedy (metaphorically and actually) West. Obesity has become somewhat normalised. People can no longer tell what it is to be overweight and they pass this failing onto their poor cat who loves those threats.

Perhaps the obese cat owner wants to be loved but is deprived of it because they are obese. They make up for this hole in their lives by seeking the love and approval of their cat companion. Result? Too many treats and feline obesity.

I'd bet that almost all obese cats live with obese cat owners.

P.S. The fact that domestic cats can overeat is interesting. You would have thought that they would self-regulate better. In the wild, the wild cat species don't become overweight even if there is an abundance of prey animals to kill and eat. They self-regulate. I can only conclude that the reason why domestic cats do not sometimes successfully self-regulate their diet is because they are bored. They eat for pleasure when offered a treat. They enjoy treats so they ask for more and the owner gives it to them. It's a sort of toxic partnership.

Sunday 29 June 2014

Cats Donating Blood: Receiving Veterinary Services without Payment

The conditions are strict if your cat is to receive some veterinary services without monetary payment but veterinary schools and large veterinary clinics, in the USA, will probably provide services in exchange for a blood donation from your cat. Such services may include:

  • pet food
  • routine physical examinations
  • blood work
  • potentially heartworm preventative action
  • screening for numerous infectious diseases (I presume this is part of the actual blood donation process)
  • haemoglobin level testing
  • metabolic screens

The value of this services amounts to something in the order of $700-$1000. Not to be sniffed at...but of course you are agreeing that your cat will donate his or her blood and that is the responsibility of a cat guardian. It requires responsible decision making otherwise it could be deemed to be immoral.

There are some strict requirements, however, regarding the sort of cat that they will accept as a blood donor.

The ideal cat blood donor meets the following requirements:

  • aged between 2 to 7
  • healthy
  • more than 10 pounds in lean body weight
  • currently not on medication other than flea treatments, heartworm treatments or preventative tick treatments
  • the cat has to be a full-time indoor cat which I find surprising
  • the cat must have tested negative for feline leukaemia and feline immunodeficiency virus
  • the cat is not a breeding cat
  • the cat has never previously been transfused.  I presume that this means the cat has not received blood in the past.

Cat guardians who wish to nominate that their cat participates in this process need to realise that he/she will be sedated.  Sedation carries risks. I would certainly think carefully about the risks associated with sedating a cat. I'd ask the vet but he may underplay it. Full anaesthetics carry more risk.

Another upside is of course that your cat will be helping to save the lives of other cats.

As at 29th June 2014 the Southern Arizona Veterinary Specialty and ER is seeking donors. Details: For more information or to set up a screening, call (520) 888-3177 or email


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