CMA Review – our position

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There has been a lot of press coverage of the review of the Veterinary ‘market’ by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). They have highlighted multiple concerns including:

  • Consumers may not be given enough information to enable them to choose the best veterinary practice or the right treatment for their needs.
  • Concentrated local markets, in part driven by sector consolidation, may be leading to weak competition in some areas.
  • Large corporate groups may have incentives to act in ways which reduce choice and weaken competition.
  • Pet owners might be overpaying for medicines or prescriptions.
  • The regulatory framework is outdated and may no longer be fit for purpose.

We wanted to address each of these concerns so that our clients know where we stand.

1. Our prices for the most common things we are asked about are on our website. We are very happy to tell you the price for anything else. Just ask!

2. We try to keep people informed of costs of treatment. Not everyone wants us to constantly mention cost, but again, if you want to know, just ask!

3. We are a single INDEPENDENT practice. That’s not ‘we have independent in the name of our corporate group, but really we are part of a chain’. It’s not ‘we have a bit of independence but we’re owned by a bunch of shareholders who barely know how to spell the word ‘vet’ but are good with the word ‘money’. What it means is that the practice was started by Stephanie and Steven – a married couple (one vet and one non vet) – over 15 years ago and is still owned by exactly the same couple, both of whom now look slightly (ahem) older. The only groups we are part of are the Federation of Independent Veterinary Practices – who try and represent practices like us on committees and things – and our buying group – who help us get cheaper prices on drugs etc than we could negotiate for ourselves.

4. We don’t have a set of protocols which say that every sick animal has to follow a certain path involving the most expensive diagnostics and treatments. We don’t hide behind ‘gold standard’ as a way to guilt our clients into spending more than they need to. We will ALWAYS discuss your options with you, and try to give you choices which suit your preference and budget. If that means throwing the book at a problem then fine. If you prefer a less full on approach then that is perfectly OK also. We don’t have ties to any particular referral centre, so if referral is warranted, you can choose where suits you best. We do use particular providers for out of hours care, lab services and crematorium. We have selected those suppliers to try and get the best service. But if any client wants to use someone different then fine with us.

5. We charge for our time. Veterinary/veterinary nursing expertise is what our staff trained to acquire, and it is why you are coming to us. We also have toys like lab machines and xray and ultrasound scanners. We charge for using those toys because they cost us quite a lot of money to buy, and it requires a fair bit of expertise to use them effectively. We believe that our pricing for these things is fair. And we set them out on our bills as clearly as we can so that everything is as transparent as we can make it. That includes charging for prescriptions. Not because we want to punish you for using them. But because it takes our vets time to issue each one.

6. We also supply medicines and other products like food. We charge for those medicines because it costs us to buy them, and it helps us pay to keep the lights on and to heat the place. So it is true that we would prefer you to buy from us rather than someone else. HOWEVER – we absolutely recognise that everyone wants to get the best price for the goods they are buying in the most convenient way. We use Amazon for our own shopping just like you do. We can’t compete on price with the internet suppliers. Their buying power and costs are just on a different scale to ours. And we don’t want to. So almost anything we supply can be found cheaper on the internet. We are absolutely open about that and we are more than happy to provide prescriptions for any medicines which we would otherwise supply ourselves. PLEASE JUST ASK!

7. We are heavily regulated by the RCVS. Because we are owned by a individuals (one a vet) rather than a non veterinary corporate entity, all the RCVS regs apply to us directly. And we are Practice Standards Scheme accredited. We don’t have to be because it isn’t mandatory, but we wanted to show people that we are doing things the right way.


XL Bully dogs

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This is obviously a really worrying time for people who own large “Bully type” dogs, especially given an XL Bully is a “type” not a registered breed, so has very broad guidelines in terms of what physical characteristics/measurements will define a dog as an XL Bully.

Our staff have all been horrified at this breed-specific legislation becoming law. We are well aware that not all XL Bullies (or dogs that fit this description) have behavioural concerns, or are any risk to the public. In fact, the overwhelming majority of these dogs are loving family members.

Although none of our staff believe that a ban of XL Bullies, and in particular the euthanasia of a healthy dog, is the most appropriate way to go about reducing aggressive dogs attacking humans, ultimately we must operate within the law. So whether these legal requirements are imposed on us by the law of the land, or by our governing body, we have to act within them, regardless of what our personal views are.

Here are the guidelines the government are using to define an XL bully:

If your dog meets the height requirements and many of the characteristics of these guidelines (note, they do not need to have all of the stated characteristics), and is not a purebred of a Kennel Club recognised breed, unfortunately, it likely they will be caught up in this situation.

The first stage of the law comes into place from 31 December 2023. It will then be against the law to:

  1. Have a XL Bully in public without a lead and muzzle
  2. Allow one to stray (this means you MUST have a secure garden so there is no risk of your dog escaping, and be super vigilant that they don’t wander out of an open door/window etc)
  3. Sell, breed from, give away or abandon one. This means that even a litter that has been conceived prior to 31 December 2023 will not be able to be sold or rehomed.

Until 31 December 2023, we are offering a free nurse appointment to advise on positive ways to train your dog to wear a muzzle; and advise on appropriate types of muzzle and how to fit one.

Here is a good link about muzzle training dogs in a positive way:

Note, this video includes peanut butter as a reward- if you are using peanut butter, please check it does not contain a particular sweetener called XYLITOL, as this ingredient is toxic to dogs.

The next stage of the law comes into force from 1 February 2024. It will then be against the law to own a XL Bully unless you have a Certificate of Exemption (which you must have by 31 January 2024)

To get a Certificate of Exemption you must:

  1. Have your dog microchipped and registered on a database (this is already a legal requirement for all dog breeds)
  2. Have third party public liability cover for your dog, this policy must renew annually for the life of your dog. The most straightforward way to do this is through a Dogs Trust membership.
  3. Neuter your dog permanently if it is not already neutered (male dogs castrated, or female dogs speyed). If your dog is older 1 year old by 31 January 2024, they must be neutered by 30 June 2024. If your dog is under 1 year old by 31 Jan 2024, they must be neutered by 31 December 2024. If your dog has already been neutered, a vet must certify this. If we have neutered your dog here, we can certify this, but would need to get your dog in to check their microchip details If they have been neutered at a different vet clinic, you can ask this vet to certify this. Neutering an XL Bully
  4. Apply online at, and pay the application fee.

The government have provided general guidance on how to prepare and are also running a scheme for dogs without an exemption certificate to be euthanased

If you have any questions or concerns please contact us on 01442 833 198 or by email to


Compulsory cat microchipping

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The legislation has now been laid in Parliament to make cat microchipping compulsory.

The new rules mean cats must be implanted with a microchip before they reach the age of 20 weeks and their contact details stored and kept up to date in a pet microchipping database. All owners must have their cat microchipped by 10 June 2024 and owners found not to have microchipped their cat will have 21 days to have one implanted, or may face a fine of up to £500.


Tarmac is here!

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Have you experienced our new lane? The access lane to the practice has now been covered in tarmac and is running smoothly. The only advantage of the old potholes was that they acted as natural speed restrictions, so in their absence, please don’t drive too fast!