Emergency Pet Care & After Hours Vet Bills: Why Do They Cost So Much And Will My Pet Insurance Cover These Costs?


Jade Poole from I Write Words


Any paw parent will know that pet care doesn’t come cheap, but when it comes to those emergency out-of-hours visits, we get a knot in our stomachs thinking about the bill. Which is where pet insurance comes in. We explore these costs, the reason for them and whether or not pet insurance will cover them…

As a paw parent, we will do whatever it takes to ensure the health of our furry members of the family. If something is seriously wrong with our beloved Bruno or Whiskers, then we rush him to the vet to get him the treatment and care he needs.

However, these costs can and will start to add up and what’s more, after-hours emergency vet bills are particularly expensive and can leave a big dent in our bank accounts.

Here’s what you need to know about these costs and pet insurance...

The cost of pet care

Routine care costs such as sterilisations, vaccinations and deworming can be rather pricey. A consult at your vet can set you back R300 or more, and this doesn’t include the medication.

Not to mention the high costs of emergency care. If your pet is hit by a car then this could cost R40 000 or more to save his life!

If you have pet healthcare cover, then you will know how helpful this can be for covering the costs of medical care.

But what about after hour emergencies? Why do they cost so much? And how do I know if pet insurance will cover them or not?

Here’s what you need to know…

Why do after-hour vet bills cost so much?

As a rule of thumb, emergency vet care is pricier than standard vet fees, just like an emergency doctor would be for humans.

Your vet needs time off to rest and recover

You have to take into account that vets are people too. They have friends, families and pets of their own. And they want time to relax, unwind and spend time with their loved ones.

Vets work incredibly hard and are often faced with difficult and heart-breaking situations on a daily basis. Their downtime is critical for their mental wellbeing.

After-hours assistance

If you call your vet for an emergency consultation after hours, then he or she also needs to pay to assistant staff overtime rates.

24-hour vet clinics

There are some vet clinics dedicated to staying open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. However, these clinics will also charge higher fees as their staff work nights, weekends and holidays, and will remain open whether they see 2 or 10 pets a shift.

Vet clinics want to ensure the highest quality of care is given to your precious pet, this means that their equipment, salaries and medication all need to be paid for.

How do I know whether or not my pet is facing a medical emergency?

Some situations will speak for themselves. If your pet was hit by a car or injured badly, then this is most likely an emergency situation and you should seek immediate medical care.

The best idea is to phone your vet and ask him or her what you should do to stop the bleeding. Then ask your vet if he or she is available to help or if they can recommend an emergency vet clinic nearby.

Phone your vet first

In other situations your pet might just have an upset tummy or feel unwell, if it does not seem like an emergency, then phone your vet and ask them whether they think you should bring your dog into the vet based on the symptoms.

You should then monitor your pet’s symptoms and keep a close eye on your pet before taking them to the vet in the morning.

Your pet’s health should always come first, so make sure you contact your vet for him or her to assess whether it is a medical emergency or not.

Have a look at our article on 10 warning signs you need to take your dog to the vet.

Does pet insurance cover after-hour vet bills?

This will all depend on your chosen pet insurer.

At Oneplan (that’s us), we cover the costs of emergency and after-hour pet care. Can we get a woof woof?

The nature of the claimed event will determine which benefit the claim falls under. For example, if your pet is hit by a car, then this will be classified as accident cover. If your pet is sick, then this will typically fall under illness cover.

Have a look at our blog post on what pet insurance actually covers.

To sum it up (head’s up - the cover will range depending on the plan you choose)

  1. Accident cover - Ranging from R8000 to R50 000 cover.
  2. Illness cover - R30 000 to R47 000
  3. Routine care
  4. Vet visits

Have a look at our pet plans and find out which one suits you, your pet and your wallet best.

Yours in cuddle-worthy pet insurance,


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