Pets and Vets

\\\ Pets and Vets

\\\ Updated 12 October 2021

Vets and Pets

Caring for your pets + Routine pet treatments + Pet insurance + More


What Do Vets Do?

With more than an estimated 59% of UK households owning a pet, vets are kept busy, with the most popular being dogs, followed by cats. Increasingly, households are choosing more unconventional pets such as reptiles and small mammals which need specialist vet care. 

The UK had just over 4,000 veterinary practices in 2019 for pet owners to choose from and approximately 25,000 registered veterinarians. 

PET CHECK UK Cat at the vet having veterinary care

Most of the UK public know that vets care for animals and try to keep them healthy.

Most veterinarians diagnose animal health problems, vaccinate against diseases, medicate animals suffering from infections or illnesses, take blood tests, treat and dress wounds, take x-rays, read other medical scans, set fractures, perform surgery, and advise owners about animal feeding, behaviour, and breeding, educating the public in the best care of their pet. 

They sadly also attend to the end of the life of the pet with euthanasia.

Pet care insurance was first introduced in the UK in 1976 and has now grown to more than a quarter of pet owners choosing to insure their pets. Most veterinary practices will treat insured animals, but it’s best to check first before expecting treatment.

Veterinary practices are run as private enterprises and generally are either large group practices or smaller, localised practices. They do refer between practices, sharing the state of the art resources where possible.

What’s most important is to find a vet in a practice that may specialise in your pet care if it’s more of an unusual pet choice, including rabbit care. 

Veterinary Professional Associations

The UK practice of veterinary medicine is regulated by The RCVS – The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Veterinary medicine can only be performed by fully qualified and regulated professionals as subject to the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966. 

The BVA – British Veterinary Association represents its professional members’ interests. You can check if your vet is registered using the RCVS or BVA search facility.

Numerous individuals need to be DBS checked when working with animals called The UK Disclosure and Barring Service.
One of the purposes of this legal checking system is to help recruitment decisions by ensuring unsuitable people do not work with pets. There are 3 levels of checking, basic, standard, and enhanced tiers.
Vets on entry into their profession are eligible for a basic DBS check as are other animal-related jobs such as boarding kennel owners, pet sitters, dog walkers, therapy handlers who accompany animals on hospital and hospice visits.

CVS is the UK’s largest Veterinary practice group, and Vets4Pets is the largest small animal veterinary practice. Vets Now have more than 60 locations across the UK. 


More and more online veterinary advice is available which can help pet owners with many queries and questions about their pet’s care. Pet owners may still need to visit a veterinary practice for routine treatments, inoculations, and other physical problems the pet may be suffering from.

5 TIPS Finding A Local Vet

  • 1. When searching for a vet, ask other pet owners, kennel owners, pet owners which vet they use and listen to their feedback. They will be dealing with a variety of different breeds but the same name may just pop up.
  • 2. Take a look at all local vets online presence, reading customer reviews before using any services.
  • 3. Choose an accessible practice for location and clinic hours with a friendly, efficient and organised team and who support your pet insurance policy before you undertake any treatment.
  • 4. If your pet is exotic then it’s worthwhile finding the appropriate specialist vet in your area preferably before, or at the time of purchase. 
  • 5. Some vets can offer a short free consultation if new to their practice. Take advantage and see if you like the practice, how clean it is, how caring the staff are, how organised their reception area is and how thorough the vet appears to be.

Microchipping Your Pet

PET CHECK UK Dog being read by microchip reader

Microchipping was introduced in the UK, April 2016, a law for all dogs in England, Scotland, and Wales. Northern Ireland has slightly different animal laws but pets are also microchipped.

Owners of dogs and puppies over eight weeks had to have registered their pets on one of the authorised professional, private, databases detailed on the government website, which keep their owners’ details. This was necessary to help reunite the thousands of pets that go missing, are stolen, or stray each year. 

Cats can be microchipped depending on their size from about 10-12 weeks. Cats obtained from animal shelters are likely to have been chipped whilst in their care.

Only suitably trained persons can carry out microchipping which includes veterinary practices. Likewise, veterinary practices can ‘read’ the microchip located in the scruff of the neck of the pet, with a special electronic non-evasive reader that will provide the important information registered about the chipped animal.

Larger and exotic animals can be microchipped to particularly stop pilfering and theft. Microchipped animals can also be monitored by the microchip readers by establishments across Europe and other international countries, particularly useful if dogs or animals stray and are found and can be repatriated to their owners.

Owners are advised to make sure vets check the microchip reading every time owners visit their vets.

The government website currently provides three charities that can microchip pets for free, so that any dog owner can comply with the Act.

The image above shows a dog being ‘read’ by a microchip reader.

Pet Poisoning

It’s frightening how easily pets can become poisoned around the home, garden, and open spaces, 24/7. 
If you know what your pet has just eaten then a quick check online can often identify the toxicity symptoms they will be showing signs of, or shortly. This can be where a pet insurance plan really helps and a visit is needed to your vet urgently, taking the substance with you. 

Treatments are diverse according to what your pet has swallowed, whether it may be a foreign object, toxic and caustic substances, or poisons such as chocolate, raisins, or human pills.

There are several vets up and down the country, offering emergency video chats as part of their practice services, linking up with insurance firms, as part of pet insurance policies. Vets can advise short-term best practices but a speedy emergency trip to the vet is inevitable. 

If you think your dog has been eating snails, slugs or even frogs, visit the vet immediately. 

Cat wearing veterinary protective collar

Travelling Abroad

After leaving the EU, the block requires pet owners to comply with the EU and specific country Rules allowing pets and animals to travel to their countries. Travelling abroad requires owners to prepare well in advance, visiting their veterinary surgery, having the correct paperwork completed for that specific country(s) of travel, and that your pet is jabbed correctly.

Likewise, the UK has entry Rules for owners, pets, and animals to follow, allowing entry into the UK, and producing documents by devolved powers such as the Welsh and Scottish guideline requirements. If it’s your first time of travel, then prepare well in advance seeking advice from your vet to avoid the disappointment of turning up at the animal cargo airport or port and being turned away, unable to travel.


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Free Weigh-Ins

Most vets offer free pet weighing services helping to keep pets healthy fit and positively encourage frequent weigh-ins.


Rabbits can catch fleas from other pets such as dogs and cats in the family and all pets should be treated at the same time together.


Routine Treatments – Pet Dental Care
Dog teeth being examined

Just like humans, pets need dental care especially with help particularly preventing plaque building up.

Brushing a pet’s teeth is essential, with a toothbrush every day but NOT with human toothpaste. Replace the brush every month for six weeks. 

Providing your pet with a regular dental routine can make real differences to their long-term oral health. Dog dental toys, chews, and sticks are available in a wide range of sizes and flavours. from pet stores. 

Dry dental health foods include hard food particles that clean pet’s teeth as they chew, which help prevent plaque build-up. 

Vets are always happy to help with advice and care to prevent later problems in life.

Cat having veterinary treatment
Routine Care – Insurers

It’s essential to keep routine jabs for your pets up to date as insurers may not insure your pet if they lapse. Vets recommend dogs, cats, and rabbits are protected against diseases at annual appointments.  

Routine Treatments – Fleas

Routine treatments are those generally that can be provided regularly by the pet owner including flea treatments, worming treatments, lice, ticks, and dental care.

Dog having routine treatments at vet

Insurance does not cover pets suffering from preventable illnesses caused by failure to keep up routine treatments such as flea treatments.

Fleas are living parasites and can cause much discomfort and other health conditions to pets including dogs, cats, rabbits, and small pets.

Fleas can easily be found living in pet coats and affect the whole household very quickly. The first signs are generally a pet scratching itself continuously particularly around the scruff, head neck and ears, and back end and as an owner, you may have also been bitten. 

Flea treatments need to be applied immediately, and regularly. There are many available on the marketplace for puppies, dogs, kittens, and cats. 

As well as flea infestations, worming treatments for dogs and cats is also highly recommended by vets at the same time as applying flea treatments. 

Routine Care and Insurers

Most pet insurers – but not all – expect pet owners to pay for routine, preventative and elective care of the pet, which includes neutering and microchipping, also regular flea treatment, annual vaccinations, and other treatments. Likewise, kennels and catteries will ask to see proof of these when booking your pet using their services.

Routine Treatments – Worming Pets
Dog being treated for fleas

Worming puppies at five weeks, eight weeks, and twelve weeks is recommended and thereafter, at least every 3 months, as responsible pet ownership.  

Two main UK worm types are roundworm and tapeworm, which are parasites and can cause harm to your pet and ultimately humans. 

Puppies are more commonly affected than dogs. Puppies and dogs can show signs of eating more, or by loss of weight, Diarrhoea or vomiting, scooting and dragging their bottom along the ground, swollen tummy, and visible worms or eggs in their faeces (or fur) around their bottoms.  

Ringworm caused by a fungus is not an internal parasite and is not prevented by using worming treatments.  

Lungworms live in a dog’s respiratory system. Dogs acquire lungworm-eating grass where snails or snail trails are attached, as well as playing with toys that have been left outside where snails can contact. 

A course of worming tablets, liquid, or paste will ease any discomfort, available from pet stores. Several companies offer a handy monthly bundle treatment subscription package service delivered to your door. Handy, where you’ll never forget. 

Kittens require similar worming treatments from 12 weeks onwards, as do cats about every three months throughout their life.   

Itchpet offers a routine treatment subscription service for cats and dogs. Find out more today. #Ad.

What Do I Do If My Pet Goes Missing?

It’s heartbreaking when a much-loved pet disappears. 10 TIPS helping to find missing pets
  • Contact the pet microchip company to see if the pet has been handed in and your details recorded are up-to-date.
  • It is essential to quickly retrace your pet’s last steps and then make contact with local animal welfare organisations. Check all your rooms and cupboards, garages, sheds, vehicles, behind appliances, and ask your neighbours to do the same.
  • If you are the pet owner, report a missing dog to the local council warden via the council’s website. Likewise, strays can be reported when found. 
  • Putting up local signs with a recent picture of your pet and a contact detail can help, sometimes offering a reward an added incentive. 
  • It’s worth checking with local vets if any similar animal has recently been treated. 
  • Check you are local ‘lost and found’ columns in papers and magazines.
  • Put information online for a wider local social media audience on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram 
  • Contact the local Cats Protection on 03000 121212 to report your cat lost.  
  • Contact pet rescue and other animal charities to register your loss.
  • Check your insurance policy as costs may be covered for rewards, and advertising the loss.
  • Check Pet Check blog feature for more information about missing pets
  • Contact the premier reunification service Dog Lost co uk

Pet Theft Reform

The Proposal standing before Parliament is to amend the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to make pet theft a specific offence, distinct from that of inanimate objects; and in sentencing, the courts must consider the fear, alarm or distress to the pet and owners and not monetary value.

The Petition ran for 6 months and closed with 117,453 signatures where the UK Parliament is obliged to consider for debate all petitions that get more than 100,000 signatures. You can read more about the proposals for pet theft on our blog Pet Theft Reform.

Pet Theft Awareness supporting the Pet Theft Reform advise that 50% of dogs go missing from gardens and thefts also occur on walks when pets get snatched from their owners.

Dog in garden


Like most professions, there are times when things can go wrong, and vets are no different.  

Vets must adhere to a Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons RCVS professional code of conduct. Practices must adhere to all relevant veterinary and business legislation. 

Most matters can be dealt with in-house, either by the vet or by raising a complaint using the vet’s practice complaints procedure, which should be available for you to read at the practice, or online on their website.  

The Vet Mediation Service can help to settle any disputes should internal procedures fail and provide a useful FAQ resource to questions typically asked by pet owners.

The CAB – Citizen’s Advice Bureau has a concise guide available about making a complaint andWHICH? – The Consumer Rights subscription magazine and website provide further information. 

The government website covers comprehensively the organisations that are responsible for the various UK Veterinary Medicines Directorates services.

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Pet owners dread the traditional times of the year when bonfire parties take place during November.

Firework displays
Fireworks cause pets great distress. Read more in our blog about how to help them with their anxiety.

Dogs and cats hate the bangs, whistles, and swizzling sounds and can become extremely anxious, sometimes trying to escape the home to get away from the noise.

Make sure your cats and dogs are at home during the late afternoon and tucked up cosily and relaxed.

Move rabbit hutches into a garage to help them not to be so afraid and distressed. If this isn’t possible, cover the hutch with a blanket so they can’t see all the bright lights and lessen bangs.

If you are unsure you can always check with your vet what to do.

Vets may suggest taking herbal remedies to calm pets that are freely available on large pet websites.

Cat model

Is your pet ready for Stardom?

Pets have never been in so much demand for TV, theatre, media, and advertising work. All kinds of pets can be offered work including dogs, cats, horses, birds, reptiles, or other exotic creatures.

There are a number of reputable model agencies which actively seek new pets for their agency books. Pet model agencies require pet owners to have their pets fully up-to-date with all their vaccinations and routine treatments and to have their ID pet cards available for inspection when undertaking any photoshoot, film, TV, theatre, or promotional job their pet may be hired for.   

Agencies must be regulated with the government as an ‘Employment agency’ and have standards of care and welfare to follow ensuring your pet is well looked after when in their care, including the presence at all times of a trained veterinarian.

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