Free Pet Exam for Low-Income Families

In the last 5 years, more and more veterinary care providers have rolled out some form of free online veterinary support for pet owners. This service is offered in two formats:

Free Pet Exam for Low-Income Families
  • An online webchat or email form to connect with a veterinary practitioner.
  • A free 24/7 emergency helpline to speak to someone via phone.

Not all veterinary care providers offer this service, but it is becoming increasingly common as a way of providing quick and effective medical advice without the need for an in-person clinic appointment.

How much is a pet exam?

The average cost of a routine check-up is $50 in the US, but prices typically range from $35 to $60 depending on the species of the animal, individual veterinary clinic, annual fee increases and the area the clinic is located.

In the UK, routine vet exams are more expensive, with the average cost sitting at £60 as of September 2020. For clarity, $50 equates to £36 using 2021 currency conversion.

A visit price will increase if other treatments or services are added to the same appointment, such as routine bloodwork, vaccinations or flea and worming treatment.

Are animal hospitals cheaper than vets?

In the UK, animal hospitals refer to veterinary clinics managed by animal charities or veterinary care outsourced by a charity to a local veterinary clinic. Veterinary care provided by an animal charity is generally cheaper but pet owners must be in receipt of certain state benefits to qualify for free or reduced-cost veterinary care.

In the US, the terms “animal hospital” and “veterinary clinic” are used interchangeably, but it can be assumed that animal hospitals are usually larger chain clinics and veterinary clinics are smaller independent companies.

Larger animal care providers tend to be more expensive, but similarly, those clinics in rural areas and with fewer clients will have to charge a higher fee to be profitable.

Financial assistance for pet care

The cost of pet care can be a burden for low-income families. There are, however, organizations that offer pet assistance for low-income families. These organizations offer free or reduced-price veterinary services to those who need them most. You can also find organizations that supply free food and supplies through food pantries.


The ASPCA has a full list of organizations that offer pet assistance for low-income families. These organizations are nationwide and offer veterinary care, food, and supplies and even help with boarding fees. The site also allows you to search by zip code so you can find the closest organization to you.

Brown Dog Foundation

Brown Dog Foundation provides financial assistance to cover unanticipated, non-recurring medical expenses for people who are unable to afford them, as well as those who have used all other resources, including Care Credit and other payment plans.

The Pet Fund

The Pet Fund was founded in 2003 with the goal of providing financial assistance for non-basic, non-emergency veterinary care. This includes care for chronic conditions as well as treatment for injuries and illnesses that require hospitalization or major surgery. The Pet Fund is not a shelter and does not take in animals or provide permanent homes. Instead, it works with licensed veterinarians nationwide to help individuals pay for veterinary care.

Humane Society

The Humane Society is an organization that provides many services for animals in need including adoption, spaying and neutering, educational programs, and a pet food bank. Their website also provides a list of additional resources that may be helpful.

Red Rover

Red Rover offers help to owners who need assistance with vet bills for their pets. Red Rover Relief grants can help people who have temporary financial problems and need help during an emergency situation, as well as owners whose long-term finances make it difficult to afford vet care for their pets. Each grant is paid directly to the veterinarian in charge of the pet’s care, so you won’t get cash from this organization. Red Rover also has advice on how to save on veterinary care costs, how to apply for financial aid, and how to find low-cost veterinary clinics.

Payment plans

Many people don’t realize this, but the vast majority of veterinarians offer some sort of payment plan or financing option for their clients. For many practices, it’s their preferred way to work with clients who need help covering the cost of a procedure or treatment. The most common way for vets to provide payment plans is through CareCredit, a credit card specifically designed for health care costs.

Credit cards

Some credit cards offer special rewards programs (including cashback) that let you earn rewards from everyday shopping activities. You can then use those rewards to pay for pet-related expenses (including medical costs).


CareCredit is a credit card that provides financing options for veterinary services. There are no interest plans available if the balance is paid within 6, 12 or 18 months (depending on the amount financed) and low-interest plans if you need more time to pay off your balance. CareCredit is also accepted by over 190,000 healthcare providers across the US.

Conclusion of free pet exam

Vet care can be costly, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s how to get free or low-cost vet care for your pet, even if you’re on a fixed income.

  • Find a local Humane Society or animal shelter
  • Check your local SPCA
  • Search for low-cost veterinary clinics
  • Use free veterinary services at national shelters
In the Exam Room: Preventive Care Visits
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Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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