Being in a financial situation that makes it difficult to take care of an animal can be overwhelming, especially when you love that pet like family. If you’re looking for a way to help your pet but are concerned about the costs of veterinary care, there are ways to make it more affordable.
Financial assistance for veterinary care
There are many organizations that offer financial assistance for vet bills, including some that will even help you pay for pet food and other necessities.
RedRover Relief provides financial assistance grants to pet owners who need help paying their pets’ emergency vet bills. This organization has been known to offer grants for up to $500, but the amount varies depending on your situation and how much money is in their fund at any given time. They also have an emergency shelter program for those who need it.
2. Frankie’s Friends
Frankie’s Friends is another source of funding for pets in need. They provide grants toward lifesaving treatments for dogs and cats whose owners can’t afford them. They also provide some free services for pets in need in certain areas. You can find out if Frankie’s Friends serves your area by checking their website.
3. Veterinary Care Foundation
The Veterinary Care Foundation offers funds for veterinary patients in need, but it varies by location. If you live in one of the areas served by the VCF, you may be able to receive financial assistance with veterinary expenses for your beloved pet.
4. The American Humane Society
The other option is to find a charity that will cover the cost of your pet’s care. The American Humane Society has a page on their website where you can search by state for charities in your area that specialize in financial aid for veterinary care. Most of these organizations require you to fill out an application and provide proof of income and residency before they will consider your situation. However, if you qualify, it could save you thousands of dollars on vet bills.
5. The ASPCA
The ASPCA has a great list of resources for finding financial assistance for vet bills. This page also includes a state-by-state list of welfare groups that may be able to help in an emergency situation. You can also use the Pet Fund as a resource for finding local animal welfare groups that may offer aid for vet bills.
6. Affordable animal hospitals and clinics
There are affordable animal hospitals and clinics that offer quality care at a lower cost than the more well-known vet offices. These places often receive funding from a number of sources, so the prices are kept low. If you’re not sure where to look, try calling around to some of these types of places and ask if they can point you in the direction of other organizations in your area that might be able to help you out. You may also want to contact your state representative or local animal advocacy groups—they’ll probably have information that can get you started.
7. Animal welfare groups
Many animal welfare groups offer assistance for sick pets. Ask at the animal shelter if they know of any local organizations that offer financial aid for vet bills. Some organizations are specific to certain types of animals (such as cats), while others may only assist with certain treatments (such as emergency surgery). Nevertheless, it never hurts to ask if there is assistance available.
8. Credit card
If you have enough credit available, a credit card maybe your best option to pay for immediate vet care. Just make sure that you can pay it back within a reasonable amount of time so you don’t get hit with high-interest rates.
CareCredit is a credit card company for health care, including veterinary care. It offers a range of plans depending on how much money you need to finance and for how long. Some plans also offer promotional financing, such as interest-free financing for up to 12 months. Their website offers a zip code search function so you can look up veterinarians in your area who accept CareCredit cards.
10. Scratch Pay
An additional option is through an online service called Scratch Pay. Their website provides a fast and easy way to find out if you qualify for financing options ranging from 0% interest to 36% interest. It only takes a few minutes to apply and your approval can come within seconds because they use a soft inquiry that doesn’t affect your credit score.
VetBilling is another resource that some veterinarians use to help clients finance their pet’s medical bills. VetBilling offers financing options for non-emergency and emergency vet care with low monthly payments, flexible terms, and instant approval. There are no hidden fees or prepayment penalties.
12. Payment plans
Many vets will allow you to set up payment plans so that you don’t have to pay all of the costs upfront. This allows you to afford care for your pet while not having to dislocate other parts of your budget. Note that some vets may charge interest on these plans, so make sure that you understand all of the conditions before signing up for one.
13. Crowdfunding campaign
You can also try setting up a crowdfunding campaign through websites like GoFundMe or YouCaring. Just be sure that your campaign includes all of the details about what you need and why you need it, and always be honest! Remember, people want to give but they don’t want to be misled—and if they think your campaign is fraudulent, no one will donate.
What happens if you can’t pay the vet?
If you are in a situation where you cannot afford to take your pet to the vet, you have a few options.
Veterinarians will not allow an animal to leave their office without being paid in full. They have rent, payroll, supplies, and other expenses to pay just like everyone else. You can try asking for an estimate upfront, so you know how much money to bring with you when you go to the office. Make sure you call them beforehand so they are expecting you and let them know if there is an emergency (although they normally do not do emergency care).
If you cannot afford a visit at all and it is not an emergency, many veterinarians will work out a payment plan with you. You can also try looking into low-cost vet clinics in your area. Many people use these clinics if they cannot afford the normal price of an animal’s surgery at a regular veterinary clinic.
You can also try and ask around and see if there is anyone who may be able to help. Maybe someone in your family has a friend who has a pet and maybe they could ask them if they could get the care for their pet for free because they know how desperate you are – this could be worth a shot.
You can use personal credit cards or loans, keep in mind that interest charges applied by lenders may end up costing more than the original veterinary bill did, and that can damage your finances in the long term. If you’re thinking of using a loan, it’s best to pay off the loan with your regular monthly income after you get back on your feet, rather than paying it off over time with interest charges accruing on top of the principal amount.
Conclusion of financial assistance for paying vet bills
It can be heartbreaking to have a pet in need of veterinary care but not have the funds to pay for it. Before you give up and surrender your pet to a shelter, or worse, euthanize your animal yourself, you may want to consider some other options.
There are a variety of ways you can get help paying for vet bills, from emergency credit cards and low-interest loans to special payment plans or nonprofit organizations that provide financial assistance to pet owners in need.
Many vets offer discounted rates to low-income families. If you cannot afford the full-service price, ask your vet if they have a plan in place to help those who are unable to pay. If they do, be prepared with proof of income and expenses so that payment options can be discussed.
If the cost of care is still too much for you at the end of the day, another option is to find a nonprofit rescue organization that can take your animal in. While surrendering your pet may feel like giving up, it’s preferable to euthanize him yourself or abandon him on the streets where he could face starvation and injury.
Unfortunately, no matter how prepared you are for potential vet bills, emergencies can happen. That’s why it’s important to have an emergency fund set up for these types of situations. And remember: You should never put off taking your pet to the vet because of financial concerns. Any problem may be caught early if you take them in as soon as possible.