Dogs Trust has teamed up with Vetfone to offer its members unlimited access to professional veterinary advice over the telephone.

The service has been put in place due to concerns that pet health could be put at risk as owners avoid vet visits to cut costs during the credit crunch.

As well as providing dog owners without insurance valuable support and advice, the service will also potentially save money for those dog owners who already have existing insurance in place.

Dogs Trust logo Owners are advised on those occasions when their dog needs to see the vet without delay and when perhaps a period of observation and TLC is more appropriate, so giving them peace of mind.

Michael Maltby, Director of Vetfone, said: “Four out of ten of the calls that we receive require advice and reassurance rather than advising an immediate vet visit is required. This means that by providing this additional service we give a way to reduce the burden of unnecessary work on the vet and its associated expense on the owner – a typical vet appointment will cost at least 25 even before any medication is prescribed (out of hours consultations will be considerably more).”

The Vetfone service is available to Dogs Trust members 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. All calls are answered by fully qualified RCVS registered Veterinary Nurses who will be able to give callers immediate advice on whether their pet needs to see a vet and if so how quickly, as well as answering all those many questions and worries that seem to arise when you want the best for your dog.

Clarissa Baldwin, Chief Executive of Dogs Trust, said: “We would always advise people to get pet insurance if they can, but do recognise that in these times of financial difficulty, many are finding it a struggle to make ends meet. Just 29 per cent of dog owners in theUKcurrently have insurance for their pets and we are concerned that more will cancel their policies as belts are tightened, particularly owners with more than one dog.

“The Vetfone service is the perfect solution for people in this situation. It gives them access to professional advice and can prevent unnecessary (and expensive) trips to the vet.”

For just 20 a year, or 10 if you are 60 years old or over, the Dogs Trust Membership benefits also include free third party insurance up to 1,000,000 cover if your dog causes an accident, damage or injury to another person, their property or an animal – a valuable addition for anyone having to go back to the workplace and thinking of taking their dog to the office with them.

Anyone interested in the Dogs Trust membership package, should call 020 7837 006 or further information.Calls to Vetfone, from aUKlandline, are charged at the rate of a local call. The cost of calls from a mobile will vary.There is an excess of 200 per insurance claim in the UK or 500 excess for claims in the Republic of Ireland.

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