My Dog Needs Surgery But I Can’t Afford It

Many pet owners refrain from having surgery or other medical procedures done because of expenses, rather than choosing to forego treatment altogether. No one can afford a $10,000 surgery for their dog, but the ways to fund the cost are numerous.

How do I pay for an expensive dog surgery?

1. Reach out to your veterinarian

Reaching out to your veterinarian is the first step to getting your animal the care he or she needs. Tell her about your financial situation and whatever you have already tried to obtain the needed funds. Your vet should be able to offer you valuable advice on how best to proceed.

However, if you do not have the money to pay for treatment, your veterinarian might be willing to work with you on payment arrangements. Ask about their payment plans and set up a consultation with them to discuss how you can afford treatment for your beloved pet.

2. Look for charities and organizations that help pay vet bills

For low-income families or single people claiming state benefits, most animal charities and nonprofit organizations will offer some form of financial support.

Look for local veterinary clinics that offer low-cost, means-tested treatments. If you are on a low income or receiving state support, you will most likely qualify for subsidized or even free treatment

Charities may offer help with funding for emergency care or reduced treatment costs if your dog is registered at one of their clinics.

3. Start a Go-Fund-Me page

You can also set up a free fundraising page with sites like Go Fund Me or Free Funder. You simply create a page with your information and write a short explanation of your situation and the treatment your dog needs. Anyone who donates will be able to keep updated with the progress of your page.

4. Ask your friends and family for help

Speak to friends and family if you end up in a situation where money is tight. Most people are happy to help with vet bills, even if it is just the offer of a loan.

5. Consider saving up or earning extra money

It may seem simple, but even cutting down on the number of coffees you purchase will help. Start by putting $10 per week into a piggy bank or savings account with your bank. When you have a little extra, you can add more.

Having that safety net means you do not need to worry if your dog gets injured or falls sick unexpectedly. Pet insurance is expensive and it is a fairly unregulated industry, so prices tend not to be competitive.

Monthly premiums also increase as your dog gets older. This is because older dogs are more likely to suffer with ill health, so insurance companies increase your premium to cover the money they may need to pay out in the event of a claim.

$10 per week adds up to $520 in a year. That covers flea and worm treatments and several basic care medications for mild conditions such as infections or stomach upsets. Even if your dog’s condition is more serious, you still have a lump sum that you can pay your vet immediately. Most clinics will allow a grace period or some kind of payment plan for trusted clients who have always paid on time in the past.

6. Talk to local pet shelters about assistance, they might be able to help out

Help might be available from a source you didn’t even think about — your local animal shelter. Shelters work with veterinarians who donate their time for regular spay/neuter appointments and surgical procedures.

Some shelters also offer assistance for emergency care, such as broken bones or serious injuries, but eligibility varies from shelter to shelter, so it’s best to call ahead before bringing the animal in for treatment.

Shelters are often willing to help owners who can’t afford expensive treatments or surgeries for their pets due to economic hardship. If you need assistance with veterinary bills, it’s worth calling around to local shelters to see if they can help you out.

Can I put my dog down if I can’t afford surgery?

If you have the financial resources to care for your dog, then you have absolutely no reason to put her down. The veterinary fees for treatment are minor compared to the true cost of losing your dog.

But if you have serious debts or problems paying your bills on time, it’s understandable that you wouldn’t want to spend any money on her. And, unfortunately, that’s often where people think they should draw the line.

But the bottom line is this: The commitment of ownership is unconditional. That means no matter how bad things get, your dog is your responsibility, and it’s up to you to take those responsibilities seriously.

When it comes to finances, that means paying bills on time, even if it means delaying your credit card payments. It means taking care of your dog, even if it means delaying some bills. If you’re already struggling, taking your dog to the vet isn’t something that you can put off.

We understand that sometimes, circumstances are beyond your control. Your dog might be injured or sick, or you might have a new job that suddenly requires you to make a much higher salary.

But if your dog’s condition is the result of neglect, and you have no means of caring for her, then there’s no excuse other than poor judgment. And there’s no reason to assume you’ll end up in a bad light.

The sad fact is that you’ll face charges if you put her down. But if you’re truly unable to care for your pet, then that’s OK.

What happens if you can’t afford a vet bill?

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing that you’d rather wait to pay for medical treatment for your pet than have to put him or her down.

Some veterinary offices are flexible with payment plans, especially if you’re about to lose your pet, but it’s not always possible. Most veterinary offices require payment before they perform any treatment.

But there’s something you should know: Collection agencies will report the bill back to the pet clinic, so if your account is sent to collections, it can negatively impact your animal clinic relationship.


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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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