Visiting the vet is one of the many responsibilities that comes with owning a pet. It may not be fun, but it's important for your pets health. Challenging economic times couple with the rising cost of quality vet care means that more people than ever are struggling to pay their pets expensive vet bills. Pet ownership isn't something that should be entered into lightly, and you should always make sure you are financially able to care for an animal before bringing it into your home. However, even for the most prepared owners, sometimes things happen that are out of our control.
If you need help paying for non-emergency vet bills, you can consider having a yard sale, bake sale, or selling things online to help raise money. Let people know why you are trying to raise money. Some people may be more willing to buy from you if they know that their money will be going to help your pet.
Try to keep a working relationship with your vet. If your veterinarian knows you well, and knows you are a caring owner, they may be more likely to work with you during a financial hardship.
If they aren't, call around and talk to other vets. Some of them may be willing to set up some kind of a payment plan, so you can pay your bill over time instead of all at once. Call your local shelters and ask if they know of any low cost vets. Some shelters have their own vet clinics and may be able to treat your pet at a lower cost, or set up a payment plan.
If those options don't work out, you can consider using credit to pay for vet bills. Either a regular credit card, or you can apply for care credit. Care credit works like a credit card, but can only be used at certain medical establishments (including some veterinary offices). http://www.carecredit.com/
If for some reason you can't use credit, or you don't have enough credit to cover your bill, there are some organizations out there that may be able to help you if you are stuck in an emergency situation. Below are a few organizations who, if you meet their requirements, may be able to help cover emergency vet bills.
The pet fund - http://thepetfund.com/
Red Rover - http://www.uan.org/
The Mosby Foundation - http://www.themosbyfoundation.org/index.html
Our list of organizations has drastically decreased since we first posted this back in 2010. Many of the organizations we originally had listed have since closed. The Best Friends website has a more extensive list that includes a number of organizations who only work with owners within certain locations, or with pets who have specific conditions.
If you are reading this and not currently experiencing a pet medical emergency, start planning now! It's never too late to start saving extra money for an emergency pet care fund. Even if you set aside just a small amount at a time, it's better than nothing and, overtime, can add up.
Original article posted 11/1/2010, last updated 1/23/2017