The cost of visiting the vet increased by 12 per cent in 2014, figures from the biggest Australian pet insurer reveal.

Petsure, which underwrites insurance for three-quarters of the Australian pet insurance market, said the growth of complex procedures, as well as growing demand for medical services typically associated with humans - such as CAT scans and MRIs- have driven up the average price of a trip to the vet to $270.

Ligament and knee surgery were the two most common procedures claimed on pet insurance, with a snake bite being the most costly; the severest bites costing up to $10,000 to treat.

With big differences in prices between vets, consumer group Choice said it is worth shopping around before taking your animal for treatment.

Spokesman Tom Godfrey said  it is worth getting an idea of costs for standard procedures, as well as knowing that services such as chiropractic treatment for dogs are probably notnecessary.

"Visiting a vet is a good thing but as consumers we need to be armed with more information about standard pet care costs to be able to make informed decisions," he said.

"Vet visits often occur in times of stress for families and a great vet is worth the expense but always use your common sense when assessing veterinary services."

He said when it comes to treatment such as acupuncture, chiropractic services or buying premium pet food it was worth stepping back and asking yourself if it's worth the money.

Some pet owners have questioned why such large discrepancies exist between vets for identical services.

Australian Veterinary Associations vice president David Neck says fees are reflective of the services offered, and also pointed out the high cost of equipment.

"Regulating fees might mean a practice cannot justify certain equipment, resulting in compromised patient healthcare," he said.

He advocates the uptake of pet insurance to help offset the costs.

Michelle Brien from Newcastle paid $5000  after her puppy suffered a brain infection.

On another occasion, she paid $2500 for an emergency Caesarean section that she believes would have cost $800-$1000 at her regular vet.

"Some vets are just rip-offs. I understand with emergency vets because they're working after hours and all night, they have to charge more for costs," she said.

She doesn't have pet insurance for her dogs because it does not typically cover routine medical procedures such as vaccinations.

"I think it is a waste of money, she said. "I find it cheaper to have a special dog bank account which I just save the money into and use that when I have got to pay vet bills. I put as much in it as people would pay for pet insurance, yet it is all my money and it's not going to another company."