Are all vets registered?
Yes. A vet, also known as a veterinary physician, is someone who is qualified to treat unwell or injured animals. In the United Kingdom, all qualified vets are registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS).
What to look for in a vet
Veterinary practices range from small surgeries to large hospitals. If you’re in an area with several to choose from, it might be a good idea to visit a few. Most will be happy to show you around at an agreed time.
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) suggests you look for:
- A clean, well-maintained practice with good-sized consulting and waiting areas
- Approachable and friendly staff
- Signs that the practice is well organised, e.g. clearly displayed consultation times
It’s also worth exploring the practicalities of making a visit.
- How easy is it to get to the practice from your home? This is especially important for emergencies
- Is there a car park? Are there parking spaces nearby?
- Are there good bus links to the practice?
- How far away is your nearest out of hours practice?
In short, you want to feel confident that the practice team will give your pet the best level of care.
Finding a vet
Personal referrals are a good place to start when looking for a vet, so ask friends and family where they take their pets.
You can check the RCVS database to find vets all over the UK. You could also search with The Good Vet and Pet Guide or Vet Help Direct.
All registered vets are highly trained, but some also specialise in certain areas such as nutritional, dermatological and behavioural treatments. You can usually search online by specialist areas and you can also talk to any vet about their particular areas of expertise.
Most private vets won’t have a catchment area like GP surgeries do, so you can pick the one that feels right for you regardless of where they are. Veterinary hospitals run by charities usually do have a catchment area, and sometimes offer a service to help you find out if you are in their area. They include:
How to register with a vet
Once you’ve found a vet you like, the next step is to register with them. You can visit the surgery in person, or some will let you register online. To do this, you’ll need to have all the right information to hand when you register.
This includes straightforward things like your name, home address, and phone number as well as details about your pet.
The exact pet information needed will change from vet to vet, but it’s quite common to be asked for the following:
- Your pet’s name
- Your pet’s breed
- Whether your pet has been neutered
- Your pet’s age
- If your pet has insurance
- If your pet has a microchip
- When your pet was last vaccinated and given worming/flea treatments
- Your previous vet’s details
Some vets offer home visits, in case you can’t get to the surgery. There’s usually a call-out fee, so it’s worth finding out before you use this service.
Vets treat animals in lots of different ways, from performing surgery to providing pets with medication. Some of the more common services are explained below.
Other services from vets
Vets might offer a reminder scheme for booster jabs. This can take the form of leaflets, reminder cards, text messages or emails.
Your vet may also get in touch to warn you of disease risks in your area. This information is also available at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
If you think you need to see a vet urgently
- Don’t panic
- Call your vet. All vets should provide 24-hour services, so keep your vet’s emergency contact number handy.
- If you’re not registered yet or can’t get through, call one of your local animal hospitals.
Veterinary surgeries, like all businesses, charge for their services. These costs can vary depending on things like where the vet surgery is and the treatment your pet needs.
There are a few ways to help with fees. The RSPCA or SSPCA offer a low-cost vet care option. This is offered to pet owners who need help and includes services such as neutering, microchipping and vaccinations. Talk to your local centre to find out more.
Pet insurance may help with the cost of treatment – up to the limits laid out when you purchase insurance – if your pet is injured or becomes ill. Each policy will offer cover for different things, so it’s a good idea to do some research. Some providers will offer various levels of cover as well as the option for additional extras so you can choose the cover you think you’re most likely to need. Have a look at the guide to Sainsbury’s Bank vet fees cover for more information on what can be protected by insurance. This can include costs involved in physiotherapy or acupuncture if your vet recommends it.
Resolving any issues
According to the BVA, if you have any concerns about your vet or veterinary practice, you should talk to your vet to clear up any misunderstandings.
If the issue relates to your vet’s conduct, contact the RCVS.
To keep on your vet’s good side, think about:
- Notifying the practice as soon as possible if you can’t make your appointment
- Arriving for appointments in plenty of time
- Taking your pet in an appropriate carrier when necessary
Tips on looking after your pets
To help you and your pets get the best out of each other, we’ve created a series of guides packed with tips and helpful information. They cover everything from heading off on holiday with your pets to making sure they’re happy in your home.