It could happen to anyone with a pet: You've always managed to give your pet the medical care they deserve, but because of 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.
Finding available aid
In your state
Check our list of groups nationwide that are offering veterinary care assistance.
Working with veterinarians
- Negotiate a payment plan with your vet. If you're a client in good standing, they may be happy to work out a weekly or monthly payment plan. However, a vet you've never been to may not agree to such a plan.
- Offer to perform a service for your vet like cleaning kennels, answering phones or other work in lieu of 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.
There are many animal welfare organizations that can help out with vet bills, either with low-cost care, loans, or grants.
Dog breed-specific veterinary care assistance programs:
- Labrador Lifeline
- Pyramedic Trust (Great Pyrenees)
- Special Needs Dobermans
- WestieMed (West Highland White Terriers)
Veterinary care assistance for working/service dogs:
Fundraising and temporary credit
If you have a credit card, ask for a limit increase or talk with your bank about loan options. Many veterinarians accept Care Credit, which is a credit card specifically for health care expenses, including your pet's. Care Credit offers multiple payment options that may help you through your pet's crisis. You can find out more information about Care Credit and fill out an application on their website. Consumers should take care to understand the terms of any credit they accept.
Groups like RedRover allow you to apply for financial aid if you can't afford veterinary care for your pet.
Try can also try a fundraising platform such as YouCaring, which enables you to create a personal fundraising page to raise funds for pet medical care. They charge a small percentage of funds raised. Additionally, selling items on sites like eBay or hosting a yard sale can be effective ways of raising money for pet care.
Or consider the crowdfunding solution Waggle, a pet-dedicated crowdfunding solution that channels funds directly to verified veterinary providers to ensure the money goes only to the pet's care.
It may not help in the current crisis, but you should consider purchasing pet health insurance for future medical needs. We recommend PetPlan.
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) listings.
- 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.