March 6, 2013
Having Trouble Affording Veterinary Care?
Help is out there
You've always managed to give your pet the medical care she deserves, but due to unexpected circumstances, you're faced with vet expenses that are far beyond your ability to afford them.
No owner wants a pet to suffer because medical care is out of reach. Financial aid is out there, and there are steps you can take to cover an emergency vet bill.
Please remember that, depending on the severity of your pet's illness or injury, you may still lose your pet even after great expense. Discuss the prognosis and treatment options with your veterinarian, including whether surgery or treatment would just cause your companion discomfort without preserving a life of good quality.
Pet health insurance
It may not help in the current crisis, but you should consider purchasing pet health insurance for future medical needs. We recommend PetPlan, gopetplan.com.
Check your own state first
Check our list of groups nationwide that are offering veterinary care assistance.
Work with veterinarians
- Negotiate a payment plan with your vet. If you're a client in good standing, she may be happy to work out a weekly or monthly payment plan so that you don't have to pay the entire cost of veterinary care up front. However, don't expect a vet you've never been to before to agree to such a plan; she doesn't know you and understandably doesn't want to get stuck with an unpaid bill.
- Offer to perform a service for your vet like cleaning kennels, answering phones or other work in lieu of actual cash.
- Get a second opinion. You'll pay a consultation fee, but another vet may have other, less expensive ways to treat your pet.
- Use a vet in a less expensive area. Vets in smaller towns tend to charge lower fees.
- Check out local veterinary schools. Many run low-cost clinics for limited income clients. The American Veterinary Medical Association's website and Veterinaryschools.com have lists of veterinary schools by state.
Explore ways to bring in some extra cash.
- Have a yard sale. One's man's trash is another man's treasure.
- If your birthday or a holiday is near, ask for cash in lieu of a present.
- Sell things on an online auction site such as eBay.
- Consider getting a second or part-time job or working for a temp agency.
- Ask your employer for a salary advance.
Raise your own funds or get temporary credit
If you don't qualify for a credit card or bank loan that can help you through your pet's crisis, you may still be able to get an account with Care Credit, a credit card that's specifically for health expenses, including your pet's. Care Credit offers no interest or low interest plans with fixed monthly payments that allow you to budget your money. It's accepted by many veterinarians (and people doctors). Groups like IMOM and RedRover also allow you to apply for financial aid if you can't afford veterinary care for your pet.
Or, raise your own funds! GiveForward enables you to create a personal fundraising page to raise funds for pet medical care. They charge a small percentage of funds raised.
There are many animal welfare organizations that can help out with vet bills, either with low-cost care, loans, or grants. Here are a few:
Dog breed-specific veterinary care assistance programs
Special Needs Dobermans: doberman911.org
Dougal's Helping Paw (Scottish Terriers, West Highland White Terriers and other small, short-legged terriers): http://www.welcome.to/dougalsfund
Labrador Harbor: labradorharbor.org/
Labrador Lifeline: labradorlifeline.org
Westimed (West Highland White Terriers): westiemed.org
Pyramedic Trust (Great Pyrenees): http://www.angelfire.com/bc2/pyramedic/summary.html
Veterinary care assistance for working/service dogs
Still looking for help?
- Contact your local animal shelter. Some shelters have onsite low-cost veterinary clinics or work with local vets who are willing to reduce their charges. Some also have veterinary loan or grant programs.
- There are some organizations that may offer assistance locally (by state or community). See our state-by-state (including Canada) listing. »
- Your vet can submit an assistance request to the American Animal Hospital Association's "Helping Pets Fund." In order to qualify, your animal hospital must be AAHA accredited. To learn more about the program visit the AAHA website. » Find an AAHA accredited hospital in your area. »
- If you purchased your dog from a responsible breeder, check your contract to see if there is a health guarantee that covers your pet's ailment.