Pet Health Care — What To Do When You Can’t Afford Vet Care

by Mary Haight on April 3, 2013

pet health carePet health care is one thing pet parents want to get right.  We know it’s our job to see to it that health needs are met, yet with the advent of more and more human technologies being applied to dog and cat diseases, the cost of treatment can easily outpace ability to pay. I first posted links to sources for help with vet bills in 2009. Things have changed, money ran out for some, but other organizations have come to the forefront.

If you did not have the foresight to buy insurance when you first brought your pet home — and according to reports, many of us can’t afford health insurance for ourselves let alone our pets — when a disease like cancer or an accident occurs that requires expensive surgery, costs can become an impossible financial obstacle to overcome. Where do you turn for help when vets will not structure a payment plan you can reliably meet, and you have no alternatives to help your pet get treatment?

1. AAHA – AAHA Helping Pets Fund works with affiliated veterinary practices to help owners facing financial hardship.  If your vet is at one of their approved hospitals, s/he can recommend you to their program, and you may receive assistance from their emergency and non-elective fund programs if you qualify.

2. Red Rover – Relief Grants available to veterinarians to fund urgent, life-saving vet care nationwide. The typical grant is very small – $100 to $200 dollars per case. However, they also offer fundraising ideas and advice, and have also compiled a listing of other services.

3. Brown Dog Foundation — Founded to” bridge the gap between the cost of  medical care and saving the family pet”, BDF offers grants to veterinarians usually in excess of $1,000. There are many applications, and while many grants go to in-State cases (TN), they collect funds nationally and do make some outside grants to a limited number of States.

4. IMOM –  Formed “to insure that no companion animal has to be euthanized simply because their caretaker is financially challenged.” Working off donations, IMOM has paid out nearly $1.5 million since they opened in 1998 through 2010. They are temporarily closed but expect to open again April 15.

5. Buddy Care Foundation — Grants to help cover the costs of life-saving medical care. The owner must be able to pay 25% of the costs at minimum and it is advised they apply to Care Credit. There are many other qualifications to meet, as the others listed here also require.

6. Care Credit — Readily available and easiest to obtain of all the financing options for CCL repair surgery. They offer a full range of payment plans with low/no interest for a set period, which depends on the agreement CareCredit has with your veterinarian’s office.

7. Pet Fund — Grants to “help companion animal owners avoid the difficult decision to put an animal down or neglect medical needs because of the costs involved.” They do not fund emergencies.

8. PetChance — Relatively new to the scene, is not designed for emergency medical needs, but is a crowd-funding site like Kickstarter, exclusively for pets. You register, create a “chance” for your pet with the details of what is needed, spread the news on your social media sites (they have a blog post to give you guidance) so they and others can come and donate. Money collected is paid to the veterinarian.

*9. Update: The Dog & Cat Cancer Fund — Offering grants to help for payment of treatment expenses related to canine or feline malignant cancer.

 I spoke with’s Peter Alberti about the problem of getting people to ask for help: “People want to help – it can be daunting to ask anyone for help. Be it friends and family or people you’ve never met, you sometimes have to wonder, ‘why would anyone give me money for my pet?’  The truth is, people donate to causes all day long – because they feel good about it!  So you need to give them the opportunity to do this for you, and make sure they hear/learn about it so they can seize the opportunity.  It may sound strange, but giving people the opportunity to be helpful is actually unselfish.”

What I noticed on most of these sites was that you must get involved with raising funds in some way, whether it’s online or getting a second job – to make sure your bill gets paid in full. Some require that you contribute a percentage of costs.

Be sure to check out these links – they often lead to still more links that will give you ideas on how to raise more pet health care funding, and also information about breed grants available, grants limited to a particular State, for senior dogs, even for specific illnesses. Good luck in your search!




Feel free to add us to your list.  The Dog & Cat Cancer Fund -


We offer grants to help for payment of treatment expenses related to canine or feline malignant cancer.  Thanks!  



This is great information.  Thanks for posting!  


This is a great post about a real problem.  How many times do we see neglected animals show up in our Facebook feeds, with comments that are so judgemental?  I think, if we only knew the circumstances, or if we could meet the people who have surrendered their animals, we might think differently.  I sometimes see animals surrendered at the pound that turn out to be riddled with cancer, or deeply injured, and in many cases I believe the people surrendering them actually think, this is their pet's best hope to get vet care.  It's sad and a little misguided, but it's a tough economy out there, and circumstances change.  A pet owner who could once afford adequate health care may be living under much different circumstances when they surrender.


Thanks for this compassionate post. 



MaryEHaight moderator

Thank you so much, Kati! Happy to do that , and thanks for the good work you are doing =)

MaryEHaight moderator

Glad you liked it! May you never need to use it, but at least now you know where it

is =)

MaryEHaight moderator

Thanks so much for voicing your thoughts on this subject. People do judge at the snap of fingers...we never know if people giving up their dogs are down to their last dime with no prospects for change on the horizon, or soon to be kicked out of their home. The middle class has been badly damaged in this last corporate folly. I agree there re many who could once afford everything their pets needed, and now can't.


Thanks for reminding people to be kind =)


  1. [...] Pet Health Care — What To Do When You Can't Afford Vet Care says: April 3, 2013 at 8:32 am [...]

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