Dachshund dog with two vets

An emergency vet will usually cost more.

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What is a 24-hour vet?

By Dr Hester Mulhall MA, VetMB, MRCVS Veterinarian

Updated on the

If your animal is sick and it's happened out of hours, this is when the 24-hour vet can come to your rescue.

Vet practices have a responsibility to provide a 24-hour emergency service to their patients. Some vet practices offer their own out-of-hours service and will either have staff who are on call or will have staff who work the night shift. Other practices will arrange for a 24-hour emergency vet nearby to provide this cover on their behalf.

To contact the emergency team, you should dial the practice number. This will either divert you automatically or will let you know what number to contact.

Are emergency vets more expensive?

An emergency refers to a patient that is seen as soon as possible. This might occur outside of normal consulting hours, or during opening hours if the appointment slots were already fully booked. Emergency vet care will cost more than a routine appointment. Pets seen as an emergency are much more likely to be really unwell and require diagnostics, treatment and hospitalisation. All of these incur costs and add to your vet bill. If you are concerned about the cost of emergency treatment, you can ask the vet for an estimate. It is also recommended to take out pet insurance and to speak to your policy provider about what is included.

Do vets do walk-ins?

Most vets do not offer walk-in appointments, so it is better to call in advance. This is because they cannot guarantee you will be able to be seen without an appointment, as the vet might already be fully booked. The vets will also have other jobs to do that day, such as performing surgery and diagnostics, so booking in advance enables the practice to plan a schedule.

If your pet needs to be seen as an emergency, it is always worth contacting them ahead so that the practice can aim to see you as soon as possible on arrival.

Can a vet treat a human in an emergency?

This is a complicated topic. Vets cannot prescribe drugs to a human, as this would most likely be in breach of the Veterinary Medicines Regulations (2013). They are also unlikely to treat humans because they would not be licensed to do so, which would mean a breach of the veterinary Code of Conduct. It is also not legal for an individual to practice medicine in the UK unless they hold the correct licence as covered by the Medical Act 1983. That said, in an emergency each individual vet would assess whether they felt it was appropriate to provide first aid and essential care until a doctor or paramedic are in attendance.

Can a vet refuse to give me a prescription?

Yes, a vet can refuse to give you a written prescription. This would be the case if the vet is not recommending that medication for your pet. But if the treatment is something that they have prescribed themselves, they would have to write you a prescription for you to source the drugs elsewhere, if you preferred. Vets are allowed to charge for this service, as it takes their time away from veterinary consults.

Do vets get paid more than doctors?

No, they don’t. You can search for average salaries on the National Careers Service government website in the UK. At present, the starting salary for doctors is more than that of vets, and the increase in salary is greater in doctors.

Are vets more qualified than doctors?

Vets and doctors are both working in medical professions, but there are lots of differences between the work that they do. They are trained in different skills and to treat different species.

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