There is no such thing as free emergency vet care. However, there are several organizations that do offer financial assistance in emergencies. If you cannot afford a pet emergency, you may qualify for these programs, but be sure to find one located close to you so you can get your pet the help they need quickly.
Emergency vets that take payment plans
If your pet needs emergency veterinary care, you may be able to find clinics that will accept payment plans or offer discounts for people who cannot pay upfront. Check out this list of emergency vets that take payment plans.
1. PetSmart vet clinic
PetSmart offers low-cost veterinary services to pets and their owners through its in-store veterinary clinics. This is a good place to go if you need an urgent care appointment or your pet needs vaccinations.
The company also has a special payment plan for those who can’t afford the full cost of their pet’s care at once. The vet clinic at PetSmart accepts all major credit cards, as well as CareCredit and Scratchpay.
The staff at this veterinary clinic includes board-certified veterinary professionals with experience working with all types of animals, including dogs, cats, birds and other exotic pets. They offer a wide range of services from routine vaccinations and checkups to emergency surgeries and dental procedures.
You can call ahead to check whether the location has an emergency veterinarian on staff; if not, they will refer you to another clinic in the area.
2. Vetco Total Care at Petco
Vetco Total Care at Petco offers several different payment plans that are designed to help you afford the cost of your pet’s medical care. The key is finding a plan that fits your budget and allows you to make payments over time. The plan is available to both new and existing customers and allows you to pay for your pet’s procedure in monthly installments over a period of up to 12 months (there are no interest charges).
3. VIP Petcare at Pet Supplies Plus
VIP Petcare at Pet Supplies Plus is a full-service veterinary hospital that provides emergency care, surgery and dental services. The staff at this hospital are trained to treat dogs, cats, birds and other exotic pets. The hospital is open seven days a week and has an emergency room available during normal business hours.
VIP Petcare offers pet owners an affordable payment plan so they can receive the quality care their pet deserves without breaking their budget. They also accept most forms of insurance and provide low-cost vaccines for dogs and cats.
VIP Petcare’s goal is to provide compassionate, quality medical care for all pets in need of medical attention. The staff at VIP Petcare will work with you to develop a treatment plan that best meets your pet’s needs and your budget.
4. Banfield Pet Hospital
Banfield is a national chain of veterinary clinics that offers emergency care. Banfield Pet Hospital has over 1,000 locations across the United States and Canada.
They have an annual membership fee, but it also covers routine visits, vaccinations and other services. You’ll have to pay for some services up front, but Banfield has several payment plans for those with limited incomes.
The Banfield payment plan is designed to work with any type of credit card, including Amex, Visa, MasterCard and Discover. The program allows you to pay off your bill through Care Credit and Scratchpay in simple installments over a period of 12 months without interest charges.
Banfield Pet Hospital offers a variety of services including preventive care, wellness care, diagnostic testing and treatment for common illnesses like heartworm disease and diabetes.
The Banfield website contains several pages on its emergency care policies, including what to expect when you bring your pet in for treatment. According to the site, all services at its clinics are performed by licensed veterinarians and technicians who have completed specialized training in emergency medicine. The clinic’s staff also includes specialists in cardiology, surgery and internal medicine who can assist with complicated procedures like CPR or other procedures that require extensive training to perform.
If your pet needs immediate attention due to an injury or illness, you can call your local Banfield hospital directly or go online to book an appointment using their online scheduling tool.
5. VCA Animal Hospitals
The VCA Animal Hospital chain is one of the largest in the country with more than 1000 veterinary hospitals. VCA accepts CareCredit and offers several financing options for pet owners who need help paying for treatment. VCA also has an online store where you can purchase pet supplies at discounted prices.
The VCA does offer a variety of payment options for both people with and without insurance. For people without insurance coverage, VCA offers medical financing plans through CareCredit and Scratchpay that can be used to pay for veterinary services up to 18 months after they’re incurred.
The VCA website includes a list of its participating veterinary hospitals by state and city so customers can find one nearby that offers the services they need.
6. BluePearl Pet Hospital
BluePearl is a veterinary emergency and specialty hospital. They can help you with your pet’s urgent care needs, including everything from physical exams to advanced diagnostics and surgical procedures. BluePearl has locations across the country, so there’s likely one near you.
BluePearl accepts CareCredit and other financing options to help pet owners pay for veterinary care, including emergency treatment. You can enroll in their Care Credit program by applying online or over the phone. The plan offers low monthly payments and no annual fees.
If you need help paying for your pet’s emergency treatment, contact BluePearl Pet Hospital today!
Emergency vet bill assistance
Here are organizations that offer financial assistance for emergency vet bills.
1. The Pet Fund
The Pet Fund is a registered 501(c) 3 nonprofit that provides financial assistance to owners of domestic animals who need urgent veterinary care. The organization can help with cases of chronic conditions, such as diabetes or cancer, and acute conditions requiring surgery or hospitalization. Those who contribute to the fund receive monthly updates on the pets they’ve helped.
2. The Mosby Foundation
The Mosby Foundation is a registered 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance for emergency veterinary care for dogs. The foundation also operates a hospice program for terminally ill dogs and funds research into diseases affecting dogs.
3. Red Rover
The two largest organizations offering this kind of help are Red Rover and the Pet Fund. Each has its own application process and criteria for who gets the money. In general, you need to demonstrate that you’ve explored other options and can’t afford what your vet is charging — or that you’re on a fixed income or otherwise unable to pay for unexpected expenses like this. You will also need to be able to show proof of ownership (registration papers or vet records).
4. FACE Foundation for Animals
The FACE Foundation provides financial assistance to pet owners and good Samaritans who need help paying for emergency or critical veterinary care. The organization accepts donations via PayPal and has distributed more than $4 million in grants since 2003.
5. Brown Dog Foundation
The Brown Dog Foundation was created to help families pay for emergency or critical care veterinary services in cases where the family is unable to afford the full amount of treatment necessary to save their pet’s life. Funds are available on a case-by-case basis. Applications must be made prior to treatment and the foundation requires an application fee and proof of financial hardship.
6. Magic Bullet Fund
The Magic Bullet Fund was established by the boxer owner community to help other dogs with cancer. It is a great place to start if your dog has cancer. It doesn’t pay the whole bill, but it will pay up to $3,000, which is usually enough to get the treatment started and then you can take time to raise more money for future treatments or end-of-life care.
7. Rescue Groups and Shelters
Many local rescue groups also have their own programs dedicated to helping animals in need of medical care. Some may even have full-time veterinarians on staff who volunteer their services to help injured pets get back on their feet! Check with your local organization to see what types of services they offer and how you can apply for them.
8. Veterinary Care Charitable Fund (VCCF)
The VCCF offers grants to pet owners who need financial assistance for their animals’ veterinary care. The grant amount varies depending on the case. The application process requires a detailed letter explaining why you need help, as well as supporting documents such as medical records and estimates from your veterinarian. You’ll also have to submit proof of ownership and a letter from your veterinarian regarding the condition of your animal.
9. American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)
AAHA maintains a list of organizations that provide financial aid to pet owners who need help paying their vet bills. You’ll find organizations that support specific diseases or conditions (cancer or heartworm disease, for example) or those that offer services in certain areas or cater to specific types of pets (senior dogs, for example).
This organization offers a payment plan for veterinary bills with interest rates ranging from 0% to 24%. The site does not require credit checks, and payments can be spread out over six months to five years. To apply, visit VetBilling.com and complete the online application form. Once approved, you will receive an email with a link to complete the process.
11. Crowdfunding Sites
If you’re looking for more immediate assistance, a crowdfunding site like GoFundMe may be able to help. You can create an account and tell your story about why you need help with veterinary costs. Friends, family or even strangers may be able to help by donating funds directly to your account.
CareCredit is a credit card for medical expenses. It offers no-interest financing if you pay the balance in full within six to 12 months (depending on the amount), and longer-term financing plans with interest. A CareCredit card can be used at any veterinary hospital that accepts credit cards, including Banfield Pet Hospitals, Blue Pearl Vet Specialists, and VCA Animal Hospitals.
In addition to vets, CareCredit can also be used for cosmetic surgery and dental work, so it’s also worth considering if you’re planning a larger procedure like breast augmentation or dental implants.
You can apply online at carecredit.com or over the phone at (800) 677-0718.
How much does emergency vet care cost?
Pet owners don’t always know what to expect when it comes to emergency veterinary care. It’s important to be prepared for the cost of a vet visit in case your pet needs immediate treatment.
Some people think that emergency veterinary care costs thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars, but this isn’t always the case. The average cost of an emergency vet visit is between $800 and $1500, according to CareCredit. However, this amount can vary depending on where you live and where you take your pet for treatment. In some areas, it might even be more expensive than that average price tag because of high demand and limited supply in certain areas.
Some factors that affect the price:
- Quality of care. A low-quality clinic may charge less than a high-quality one, but you’ll get what you pay for. Treatment from a good clinic is more likely to be successful and less likely to result in complications, which could lead to additional treatment or surgery.
- Size of the clinic. Smaller clinics often have lower overhead costs and pass those savings on to their clients by charging lower rates than larger clinics do.
- Geographic location. A large city will have many veterinary facilities, some offering high-quality care at lower prices than others do. If you live somewhere where there aren’t many options for emergency care, then you may have no choice but to pay whatever price your veterinarian charges — even if it seems high compared with what you would pay at another facility in another state or city.
- Insurance coverage: If your pet has an insurance plan through an employer or through a private company like Petplan or Trupanion, then any out-of-pocket expenses may be covered by the policy. However, many policies don’t cover everything, so be sure to read through it carefully before signing up so that you know what services are covered and by how much they’re reimbursed.
Can you negotiate vet bills?
Negotiating vet bills is a sensitive matter. You may feel that it’s inappropriate to bring up money at a time when your pet is in pain and you’re worried. But it is a business, and you are the customer. Keeping these things in mind will ease the way:
Be prepared to negotiate. As soon as you realize that your pet needs immediate medical attention, start looking for programs that can help lower the cost of care.
Take your time choosing a clinic. If possible, call several clinics and ask about their payment plans, costs of typical procedures, and other payment options before choosing the one you’ll use.
Ask questions. When the vet brings up treatment options, ask about the price ranges for each option rather than just accepting whatever she suggests. Also, ask about less-expensive alternatives.
Pay what you can upfront. A large upfront payment will make it easier to negotiate lower monthly payments later on — so pay as much as you can upfront and agree to pay the rest in installments over several months or an extended period of time (such as two years).
Conclusion of emergency vet care
If you find yourself in a situation where you need emergency vet care but can’t afford it, please call or visit one of the organizations listed above. If you know of any other programs or resources that might be helpful to pet owners, please let me know so I can add them to this list.
I hope you never find yourself in the position of needing financial help for your pet’s emergency care, but if you do, it’s great to have some options available.
We are not affiliated with any of these organizations and this information is provided for informational purposes only. We cannot guarantee their accuracy and cannot be responsible for the outcome of your interactions with them.