Pet Owners Warned of Potential Overpayment for Veterinary Medicine


by Barbara Csernai



A recent investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has raised concerns about transparency in pricing within the veterinary sector. The CMA’s analysis of thousands of veterinary practice websites revealed that over 80% lacked basic pricing information, potentially leaving pet owners unaware of the true costs of treatment.

According to the CMA, this lack of transparency could result in pet owners overpaying for medicines or prescriptions. The watchdog’s CEO, Sarah Cardell, highlighted “multiple concerns” within the industry, prompting the decision to initiate a formal market investigation.

The veterinary industry, valued at £2 billion, has experienced significant growth, with pet ownership soaring during the pandemic. However, despite this expansion, the CMA has cited worries over the accessibility of information for the 16 million pet owners in the UK.

The investigation analyzed websites from both corporate and independent veterinary practices, revealing a widespread absence of pricing details. This lack of transparency extends to essential services, with 83% of websites failing to provide basic pricing information.

The CMA’s findings suggest that pet owners may not receive adequate information to make informed decisions about their pet’s care, potentially leading to overpayment. Furthermore, concentrated local markets and the dominance of large corporate groups raise concerns about competition and consumer choice.

In response to the investigation, the CMA received thousands of submissions from pet owners, veterinary professionals, and industry stakeholders. Among the concerns raised were issues surrounding affordability and accessibility of veterinary care.

For pet owners like Caitlin Dolan and Dominic Bonini, the financial burden of veterinary treatment can be overwhelming. Dolan recounted the heartbreaking experience of being unable to afford treatment for her cat, Precious, while Bonini faced significant expenses for his dog, Shambu.

The CMA’s proposed market investigation aims to address these issues and ensure greater transparency and affordability within the veterinary sector. As the consultation period commences, pet owners are encouraged to explore options for financial support, including monthly plans offered by vets and pet insurance policies.

Source: BBC