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. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. PetChance — Relatively new to the scene, PetChance.org 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.

*8. 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 PetChance.org’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!

51 comments
LunaS
LunaS

I need to find a foundation or something that helps me with the health cost of my dog. Here is the story, My 5 year old daughter with (developmental delay) was asking for a pet for a long time finally one day we went to the local shelter and found this beautiful, sweet German shepherd and my daughter was in love. With only 65 lb and getting sicker at the shelter  we adopt her and took her home on antibiotic medication to treat a cold since then she had brought so much love and happiness to our home after 4 month with us and already weighting 80 lbs Luna given name is back at the vet with some rash on her skin and paws, it has cost us more than $550 to give her treatment and she does not seems to get any better so the dr is recommending biopsy and more treatments. Unfortunately we can't afford it anymore and we do not want to give her away neither a shelter it will be devastating for her and our daughter, we really want to take care of her and give her treatment PLEASE HELP. WE ARE FEELING DESPERATE BECAUSE SHE IS IN PAIN FROM HER PAWS AND SHE IS CURRENTLY IN TREATMENT AND WE DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO. PLEASE PLEASE HELP.

Cmath
Cmath

Our dog seems to be having a very difficult time during labor, puppy appears to be stuck and too large to deliver. Vet days c section can cost upwards of 1800 dollars (payment due immediately) but we cannot afford that. Is there nothing we can do?

KentClark1
KentClark1

It's important that your pet sees a vet whenever it isn't feeling well. They are a part of our families. None of us would want to see a family member in agony. In like manner, we should do what we can to make sure that our pets are happy and healthy. http://thepawfectk9.com 

jasonshwartz1224
jasonshwartz1224

I know that I'm that category of people who didn't buy pet insurance when they brought their pet home. It was a lucky situation though because my dad got me onto some pet insurance before my dog got sick. That being said, I can definitely understand that there is a lot of pressure when your animal gets sick and there is little to no chance for getting him/her treated at an animal hospital. http://www.emergencypetclinics.com 

maxwella
maxwella

My beloved family pet has a herniated disc in his back. He is now unable to walk and needs surgery. I can't afford it, does anyone now a place that helps in urgent situations? Everything is happening so fast, he is a small dog and only 4 years old, and a member of my family. Thanks!!!

JamesSimon1
JamesSimon1

It really is too bad that medical expenses for pets are so very high. I wish that everyone could give their pet the treatment they need and be able to afford it, but it just isn't possible most of the time. That being said, there are plenty of vets out there willing to see and treat pets at a reduced rate. 

http://www.ivanhoevet.com.au 

HollieTruesdale
HollieTruesdale

That makes me heart light to know that there are ways to help people that can't afford vet bills. There is a difference between someone that doesn't realize how much a pet can cost and is willfully negligent and someone that has just run out of money at the wrong time. It is really important that our pets be taken to see a vet when they're having issues and those bills can be expensive! http://www.bearssanimalclinic.com/about-us/our-veterinarians/ 

eugened314
eugened314

Did IMOM ever resume offering services? My cat was attacked by an opossum, and she needs surgery immediately. I don't have enough money to cover the costs, but I heard that this organization might be able to help. It looks like there are several other charities to try. Thank you for all the information.

http://www.currumbinvet.com.au

avalaurie86
avalaurie86

I didn't know so many things were available to me when vets are too pricey. I think I might try the red rover one that was in the article. I feel much better about the care my dog can receive now. http://parkanimalhosp.com/people/

daveyhiltz
daveyhiltz

Thank you for the tips, it's good to know that there are so many good organizations out there. We've been going through a crisis with our dog. She's been having sporadic fits and we think something's wrong. We can't afford to take her to a vet, but we were hoping to find some alternative. Thank you for the info, we'll be sure to check and see if any of these organizations will help.

http://www.brookswoodvet.com/services.html 

James Lisbon
James Lisbon

I liked when the article talks about how there are options to help people afford pet care.   However, I also liked how it mentioned that someone probably has to be proactive when it comes to looking for help with pet care.   When I was growing up, I remember our dog was pretty healthy but I think we may have taken her to a vet a couple of times.  It probably depends on the circumstances and the needs of a pet. http://www.hamiltonavepethospital.com/services 

CaseyJones1
CaseyJones1

Wow, I wish I would have known about these organizations that help out with animal hospital costs for those who are unable to afford it.  My poor dog got hit by a car several weeks ago.  Unfortunately he didn't make it.  We hesitated taking him to the animal hospital because we were worried we wouldn't be able to afford it.  I wish I would have taken him anyways though.

http://www.marcumroadvet.com 

JamesClarkson
JamesClarkson

@CaseyJones1 It is so great to see that there are so many options available for those that would otherwise not have the needed funding to care for their pets. Our pet plays a vital role in our family; having access to the care our dog Rex needs is essential. An animal hospital can provide the services that your pet seriously needs to ensure that he stays healthy and happy.

http://www.mybaysidevet.com 

laura7
laura7

@JordanJohnson2 Care credit is good but you have to have a good credit rating.  i used it once it worked. I am out in California I took my pet to Uc Davis

laura7
laura7

Apply for care credit

RosieDiaz
RosieDiaz

Does anyone know what i can do to help my dog he needs surgery asap

RosieDiaz
RosieDiaz

My dog got hit by a car,his pelvise broke into four the vet is charging me 320 just for xray and test he said it will cost me about 3,000 dollars for surgery.i cant afford it i dont want to put him down please help

sfreddson2156
sfreddson2156

These all seem like great resources! I didn't even know that there were any options for people that can't afford to go to the vet. I think it's fantastic that there are so many care options—this is the way it should be. I'm glad to hear that there are so many people willing and striving to help. Thanks for sharing your tips with us. http://myuniversitypethospital.com

xyzzy
xyzzy

Thank you so much for providing this updated list!  Between it and following links at other sites, I now have a pretty decent list of places to apply for help covering the cost of my cat's surgery.  Here's the ones I've found so far that aren't on your list:


*National*

Feline Veterinary Emergency Assistance Program (FVEAP) - http://fveap.org

Onyx & Breezy Foundation - http://onyxandbreezy.org

Paws 4 a Cure - http://paws4acure.org

Frankie's Friends - http://frankiesfriends.com

Pet Assistance Inc. - http://petassistanceinc.org


*California*

Shakespeare Animal Fund - http://shakespeareanimalfund.org

6 Legs Foundation - http://sixlegsfoundation.org


Keep your fingers crossed for Azrael -- a lump appearing by the carotid & trachea of a cat that is almost 15 years old is a pretty dire threat, regardless of all else.  :-(  Here's a pic of her rearing & pawing the air (she alternates forelegs like a little pony) to grab my attention and remind me she's there when I'm trying to prepare canned food:

CaseyJones1
CaseyJones1

I am thrilled to see that there are options for people who may not be able to afford regular vet care for their pet.  I lost my job and my dog needs to see a vet.  I didn't know what to do because I can't afford the bills and don't have insurance for him.  I will check out some of these organizations and see if they can help me out.

http://www.cobleah.vetstreet.com/services.html 

KentClark1
KentClark1

I think that the last thing that you should consider is not going to the vet at all. It is important that your pet has a regular health check up. There are ways, as mentioned above, to find the money for a veterinarian visit. You just have to be willing to do the research. http://www.calgarytrailpet.com/ 

KimberlyBT
KimberlyBT

There is pet insurance!  It can be a great investment!  It covers many things, but unfortunately for our situation with Elroy, he had issues before we adopted him, so pet insurance isn't an option for us.  I've applied for Care Credit...approved, but for 1500.00 less than we need.  I've also been fundraising, and I have made up for some of the money doing that.  If anyone cares to donate, they can do so without worries.  https://www.petchance.org/chances/1607  This link goes straight to Lakeshore Vet Specialists.  All donations are greatly appreciated and go directly toward Elroy's surgery.  He's a wonderful puppy and we just want to take the best care of him that we possibly can.  His story is available on this link.  Shares and support are welcome comfort.  Thanks for listening!  

Mstar58
Mstar58

 I was not aware that pet insurance was a thing. My parents never had it as far as I know. It makes sense because some animals can have a lot of medical problems. My childhood pets were fairly health and didn't have to visit the vet at all.

 http://www.belmontavevet.com.au

KimberlyBT
KimberlyBT

I am hoping for some help or advice for our rescue puppy Elroy.  I set up a gofundme account connected to Facebook, but have since found out his surgery will be more complicated than first expected.  I know that my family doesn't have the means to contribute what we will need, and while we may have a little time to save - I will find out for sure on Monday - we will never be able to come up with the complete cost.  I feel terrible posting over and over again on Facebook, and the first comment I received on his page was cruel, telling me to take the $100 dollars I earned and put him to sleep.  I hope I am not out of line posting the link to another fundraising site I set up.  Please read Elroy's story and share if you are able.  Thank you.  


https://www.youcaring.com/pet-expenses/give-elroy-a-leg-to-stand-on/286092

heidi03
heidi03

My cat, Mocha, is 8. He is a part of the family. We love him so much. On Christmas Eve,  I took him to the vet. There was an infected scratch under his one leg. The vet gave him an antibiotic shot. Mocha has not eaten or drank on his own for about a week now. We have been trying to feed him with a syringe, but he is not getting enough. At first he fought, but now he is too weak. I am a single mother to 2 boys and a teacher. Money is tight. I work an extra job, but it is not enough. Mocha is not getting any better. The vet said we could try bringing him to the pet hospital and maybe if they feed him via tube, he might get better. I cannot afford that. The other option is to have him euthanized, which I cannot afford either. I feel awful. I don't want Mochie to suffer. We want him to get better. I have googled and tried to find some grants, but everything I have found is not taking applications at this time or not available in Maryland. I don't know what to do. If anyone has any suggestions, that would be great. I cannot set up a gofundme. I really do not have friends and family to contribute to it. It is really just me, the boys, our dog, and Mochie.  I would love for donations to be mailed or given by phone to our vet under the name of Mocha Kelly c/o Banfield 2601 Housley Road, Annapolis, MD 21401

(410) 266-7170

laura7
laura7

Hello,


We have a 9 year old German Shepard mix and he has been diagnosed as a ACL tear in his knee.  We adopted him 2 years ago. Unfortunately, we are bound with bills mortgage and Irs bills.  We would like to fund his surgery after calling around the cheapest was $3,500.00.  We still keeping our options open but unfortunately trying to find a vet at a reasonable price.  We can't apply for additional credit our credit is below 580  So credit cards are not going to work for us.  Any help or suggestions would be appreciated 

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@laura7 I suggest crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe (dot com). I suggest you get help from friends and family and ask them to use their FB and other social media friends to help raise funds on your page there. 

I would also pick a vet to do the work, and put their name, address and telephone number on your site if people want to check that you're being truthful.They may also wish to make a direct contribution to the vet through their credit card, rather than on the crowdfunding site. 

You can check what other sites are available through Google. Good luck!

PaulWarshawsky
PaulWarshawsky

Posting this for my friend Jarad. His dog, "Boots" could really use some assistance. Please read.


On December 7th our family dog, Boots, starting vomiting and was unable to keep food or fluids down. On December 10th we took him for X-rays that found he had a bowel obstruction. While we and the doctor hope it will pass the doctor told us it is a slim chance and that surgery is the option to save our 1 and a 1/2 year old English Bulldog.


read more at http://www.gofundme.com/inqiqw

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@PaulWarshawsky It's often a good idea to add the name and phone number of the veterinary clinic that will be doing the work. People are sensitive to being scammed and transparency in this area is helpful to those who might want to use a credit card to donate directly to the vet. But you had a big donor and have exceeded your donation target already! Congratulations =)

KentClark1
KentClark1

It's important to have a good vet. I wouldn't allow my dog to see anybody unless I trusted them. If you don't think that you can afford a vet, then you should try to figure out a way to afford a good vet. You can afford it if you budget properly and do your research. http://www.applevalleyanimalhospital.com 

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@KentClark1 It is important to have a good vet, but actually Kent, not everyone can afford it if they" budget properly". I'm sure you realize some people lose everything. No job, no budget which means no money for vet visits.Having help available is a wonderful thing for those pets whose human parents are in a serious financial bind. At least some won't suffer the consequences of that. Thanks for stopping by.

TaraTompson
TaraTompson

It's a good thing there is help for pets when you can't afford it. I personally think you should account for these expenses before you even get a new pet. It really is like having a child because you care for them until they pass away. Sometimes people lose their job or something happens like that. I'm glad there are options for those situations. http://www.metzgeranimal.com

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@TaraTompson Hi Tara, and welcome! It's true and I don't think anyone would disagree that it's ideal to be prepared for vet bills either through a health policy or health savings account. Of course given this nearly 8-year-long struggle in the economy, too many impacts can decimate the best laid plans.I'm always happy to see new possible solutions for people with pets who need help.

I was over the moon to hear about the Partners for Healthy Pets client credit program for Vets by Vets. It has reportedly worked well for vets who've tried it.Thanks for checking out this post and I was impressed to see your practice is AAHA Accredited -- way to go!!

Tpasco
Tpasco

My 9 year old Pomeranian ,Libby is in need of an MRI and I'm a single mom and can't afford it. I've already spent $500+ trying to find out what's wrong with her. She is like my child and I'm desperate to help her. The vet says that they believe Libby has a disc that's compressing her spinal cord and causing her to wobble when she walks, shake her head and scream in pain when moved in a certain position. They can't be positive that it's not a tumor without doing the MRI and the symptoms are very similar. Except that Libby hasn't been having seizures and some of the symptoms that go along with a brain tumor. We have done X-rays that show the vertebrae in her neck are fused which makes us think it's the disc that's the problem. I have cried and prayed and cried some more and prayed some more. I can't even think of putting my precious Libby to sleep simply because I can't afford to do what's needed to fix her. My heart is breaking and the guilt is killing me. She was a bouncy happy girl until one day she completely changed. Is there anyone anywhere that knows what I could do to possibly get any financial assistance to help my sweet Libby? I would really appreciate any information you can give.

HeidiCaleb
HeidiCaleb

December they found chyle fluid in my cat's abdomen; unable to determine the cause. More recently the same fluid has begun building up around his lungs making it difficult to breath. I've had to take him in 2x the past 2 wks to have 250ml of it drained from around his lungs to ease his breathing, with probably another trip this week b/c his breathing has intensified again. They keep running tests to try & determine the cause of this.  They *think* it's something to do with his heart (maybe cancer, not heartworms) but still don't know.

The care credit I've opened is nearly tapped out & now he may need surgery to determine the cause & stop the fluid build up.

I'm at a loss of what to do next and how I am going to pay for it.  Giving up and putting him down is NOT an option b/c aside from this I'm told he's healty and he truly is.  Still eating, drinking, using the litter box, even playing.  It just gets uncomfortable at times for him to lay down and sleep b/c of the fluid building up around his lungs.

I don't know where to start considering he'll probably need the surgery soon.

Kati
Kati

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

 

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

 

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

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

Brit
Brit

This is great information.  Thanks for posting!  

Suzy
Suzy

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. 

 

Suzy

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