PET owners in Helensburgh and Lomond have been assured they will be supported by local vet surgeries if they find themselves struggling to pay bills as a result of the cost-of-living crisis.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has warned that one in five pets in the UK is not getting treatment in time because of steep increases in household expenses.

The BVA says that "simple and affordable preventive steps" to keep pets healthy will reduce the risk of pets' medical problems getting more serious - and more expensive.

Veterinary surgeon Karen Robb, owner of the Lomond Veterinary Clinic in Helensburgh, told the Advertiser they have "thankfully" not seen a big increase in pet owners needing to delay treatment.

"We do understand that circumstances can change for anyone," she said.

"We would certainly recommend that anyone who has concerns about their pet should contact us as soon as possible.

"We recognise that most people want to do the very best for their pets. We will always try and work with people to find an appropriate treatment plan for their pets and circumstances.

"Delaying visits can be a false economy as many conditions, for example ear infections and dental disease, are easier and less costly to treat when seen at an early stage."

A BVA survey found 99 per cent of vets in the UK have seen pets in the past year who should have get earlier treatment.

"That is a 20 per cent increase since 2018 and works out as one in five pets not getting timely treatment, the association said.

Ms Robb continued: "At Lomond Vets we have a care plan that allows the cost of preventative and routine care, such as vaccinations and parasite treatments, to be paid monthly.

"This helps to spread the cost and ensures that pets are getting safe and effective treatment.

"We also encourage owners to think about the ongoing costs of owning a pet, and to consider pet insurance or a 'rainy day' fund for the bigger, unexpected bills."

BVA president Malcolm Morley said it was important to acknowledge many pet owners were finding it tough to meet basic costs, particularly as the annual Crufts show brought the cream of the canine world to huge TV audiences.

He said: “We urge all pet owners to talk to their vet for advice on simple and affordable steps they can take to keep their animals healthy.

"These include neutering, keeping up to date on vaccinations, daily teeth cleaning, keeping weight in check, and plenty of exercise.

“The British Veterinary Association encourages pet owners to speak to their vet sooner rather than later if you’re struggling to cover the costs.

"Vets will always prioritise the welfare of your animal and work closely with clients to make treatment plans tailored to individual circumstances.”