Soaring vet bills 'forcing owners to have pets put down'

Animal lovers are being forced to have their pets put down because of rising veterinary bills, new research claims.

The study found that 56% of vets have had to euthanise cats or dogs during the last five years when owners were unable to afford treatment.

And 88% of vets questioned said they had experienced animal owners rejecting a course of treatment or operation because they could not pay for it.

Fifty-one vets were interviewed in September 2009 for the study by Sainsbury's Finance.

Pollsters said vets reported increases in the cost of treatment for a number of conditions including dental trauma, gastroenteritis, lameness and diabetes.

Joanne Mallon, Sainsbury's Pet Insurance manager said: "Advances in veterinary science mean that our pets can get the best treatment possible these days, but these improvements, including everything from more sophisticated scans to cancer treatments, come at higher costs and the financial burden is being felt by pet owners.

"Despite this, the vast majority of our pets are not insured so their owners have no protection against large veterinary bills.

"Vet fees are increasing by around 12% a year, and as a result of this we may see more animals needlessly being put down because their owners cannot afford it."