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Home > Statistics > 11 Interesting UK Vet Statistics & Facts to Know in 2024

11 Interesting UK Vet Statistics & Facts to Know in 2024

Veterinarian Statistics UK

Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.

Brits love their pets. It is estimated that there are more than 12 million households with approximately 50 million pets in total. Dogs remain the most popular pets, with cats the second most popular, while 2% of the population owns a rabbit.

Ideally, pet owners would only need to visit a veterinarian for annual checkups and vaccinations, but vets are also used to treat emergencies and carry out surgery and other procedures on animals. Here are 11 interesting facts about veterinarians in the UK, including statistics about the education required to become a professional vet and the career itself.

divider-multipetTop 11 UK Veterinarian Statistics

  1. It takes 5 years of formal schooling to become a vet.
  2. There are 29,000 vets in the UK.
  3. There are 10 recognized veterinary schools in the UK.
  4. Veterinary surgeons earn an average of £42,500.
  5. Experienced professionals can earn more than £90,000.
  6. Newly qualified vets earn between £30,000 and £35,000 per annum.
  7. Full-time vets work an average of 42 hours per week.
  8. More than 50% of UK vets work in small animal practices.
  9. UK pet owners spend nearly £5 billion a year on vet services.
  10. The average pet insurance claim is valued at £817.
  11. UK vets have seen more than 40% more patients since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020.
UK_Veterinarian_Statistics
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Veterinary Education Statistics

1. It takes 5 years of formal schooling to become a vet.

(Study Medicine Europe)

A typical veterinary student will need:
  • Five GCSEs from grades 9 to 7, including English, maths, chemistry, and biology
  • Three A levels, including chemistry and biology, with good grades
  • Work experience caring for animals (voluntary or paid)

The candidate will then go to one of the 10 recognized veterinary schools in the UK to study for their degree. The 5-year course will include academic work, as well as 38 weeks of practical experience working within an appropriate environment.

ferret in a vet clinic
Image Credit: Irina Vasilevskaia, Shutterstock

2. There are 29,000 vets in the UK.

(Statista)

Although a combination of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a shortage of vets in the UK, there are 29,000 still registered, with the majority working in full-time employment. More than 4,000 enterprises are listed as veterinarian practices in the UK, though professional vets can also find employment in clinical settings, as well as working for educational institutions and even the government. Opportunities may also be found overseas.


3. There are 10 recognized veterinary schools in the UK.

(BVA)

There are 10 registered veterinary schools in the UK, and each offers its own course with its own requirements. Although students do typically need high A-level grades, they do not need to have all A star, or 9, grades. Some schools have accepted students with 6s and 7s in their A-level courses. This is where practical work experience can make a big difference to the chances of being accepted. There are vet schools in London, Cambridge, Liverpool, Edinburgh, and Glasgow, as well as other parts of the UK.

pitbull dog check by vet
Image Credit: Andy Gin, Shutterstock

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Veterinary Employment Statistics

4. Veterinary surgeons earn an average of £42,500.

(Jobted)

There are lots of reasons people choose to become a vet, and a love of animals should be considered essential, but it can be heartening for students that the average salary for a veterinary surgeon, one of the highest paying veterinary specialties, is £42,500 and this includes those who are newly qualified. Surgeon salaries rise to and beyond £90,000 a year once a candidate has gained several years’ experience in the field.


5. Experienced professionals can earn more than £90,000.

(Prospects)

Of course, not all vets go on to work as surgeons. They can specialize in small animals, exotic animals, or livestock, to name a few. Potential employers include private veterinary surgeries, the military, and even government agencies. Experienced vets with decades of experience can expect to earn an average salary of £90,000 a year, though the highest salaries tend to be reserved for vets in London and other big cities.

close up of veterinarian holding rooster
Image Credit: Dusan Petkovic, Shutterstock

6. Newly qualified vets earn between £30,000 and £35,000 per annum.

(Prospects)

A newly qualified vet can earn more than £30,000 a year and as much as £50,000. After several years and with continued training, this can rise 50% or to as much as £70,000 per annum. The actual salary of a vet is dependent on their area of specialization, the employer they work for, and their experience. The average salary for all people in the UK is just over £25,000.


7. Full-time vets work an average of 42 hours per week.

(RCVS)

Most veterinary practices in the UK are open around a standard working week, though they may open earlier in the mornings, later in the evenings, and on Saturdays. Some vets work emergency hours, so they are on call if an animal has a medical emergency. On average, though, a full-time and fully employed vet in the UK will work 42 hours a week to earn their salary.


8. More than 50% of UK vets work in small animal practices.

(RCVS)

There are a lot of different settings where vets are employed. As well as vet surgeries, professionals are required in zoos and animal parks. They might be employed for laboratory or clinical work, and the military services require vets to care for their animals. More than 50% of UK vets work in small animal practices, which are those that will see cats, dogs, and other domestic pets.

cat at vet with owner and veternarian
Image By: 4 PM production, Shutterstock

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Veterinary Use Statistics

9. UK pet owners spend nearly £5 billion a year on vet services.

(Statista)

The cost of buying a pet is just a fraction of what it will cost to own a pet. Estimates suggest that ownership averages around £1,000 per annum for a dog. A dog that lives to be 12 years old will cost their owner more than £10,000 over their life. Most owners would agree that the cost is worth it, but some bills come as more of a surprise than others. UK pet owners spend around £5 billion a year on vet services. Some of these costs will be covered by pet insurance, and the figure also includes annual check-ups and follow-ups, but it still represents a lot of money.


10. The average pet insurance claim is valued at £817.

(ABI)

Pet insurance policies pay out for unexpected vet bills in most cases, and some policies allow for wellness care, which includes annual vaccination costs, though this isn’t the case with all policies. They also cover costs associated with lost pets, including the printing of posters and advertising on lost-and-found sites and boards.

Dog dental
Image By: Zivica Kerkez, Shutterstock

11. UK vets have seen more than 40% more patients since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020.

(Vetspanel)

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on everybody’s lives, including pet owners and potential pet owners. Groups like the RSPCA and vets themselves have commented that there has been a huge spike in people buying and adopting dogs to accompany them. In fact, UK vets have seen an increase of more than 40% in the number of visits during and since the start of the pandemic.

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Frequently Asked Questions About UK Vets

How Many Veterinarians Are There in the UK?

Although it is difficult to say exactly how many veterinarians there are in the UK, there are believed to be around 27,000 registered vets in total.

How Many Animals Do Veterinarians Save a Year?

It is impossible to say how many animals are saved by vets because there is no register of these figures, and in some cases, it would be impossible to determine whether an animal was saved by the vet or would have survived, anyway.

doberman puppy getting veterinary treatment
Image By: DuxX, Shutterstock

How Many Veterinarians Are Employed by the Government?

Around 5% or approximately 1,500 vets are employed by the government in some capacity. They work in fields such as environmental science, the promotion of animal welfare, and even public health. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) are the two biggest government employers of vets. (University of Nottingham)

divider-multipetConclusion

Vets provide an invaluable service, not only to pet owners but also in government, laboratory, and educational settings. They are essential to animal welfare, and the most common employers of this profession are vet practices, zoos, and agencies like DEFRA and APHA.

Average salaries range from a starting salary of £30,000 to £50,000, reserved for those with the most experience and in the busiest practices. Studying takes 5 to 6 years and requires good GCSE and A-level results to gain a place in one of the 11 recognized vet schools in the UK.


Featured Image Credit: Syda Productions, Shutterstock

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