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Emergency Financial Help with Veterinarian Care

Updated on April 16, 2012

Pets can be expensive - Especially during an emergency!

Let's face it, proper vet care for our pets is important, but it can also be very expensive! Especially when a situation calls for an owner to go above and beyond the normal routine preventative care. In the event of an emergency, veterinarian costs can get very high very fast. Especially in these tough economic times, many owners may not be prepared to deal with an overly expensive vet bill. But being able to provide vet care for our pets during emergencies can often times mean the difference between life and death. Dealing with a sick or injured pet is very stressful, especially so if, for whatever reason, an owner cannot afford expensive vet care. Luckily, there are some options out there. If you are currently dealing with a pet related emergency, keep reading. If you are not, but stumbled onto this hub anyway, remember that it's never too early to start preparing for an emergency. Hopefully you'll never experience an emergency life or death situation with your pet, but if you do, knowing this information ahead of time can save you valuable time in case of an emergency.

Why it's important to establish a good relationship with your vet

Sometimes, some veterinarians may be willing to work around your financial difficulties. Most often this will mean setting up some form of a payment plan where you will be allowed to pay your pet's vet expenses over time instead of in one large lump sum. However, it seems that these days, most vets will no longer accept these types of payments. Perhaps too many of them had bad experiences with owners who didn't make payments as promised?

This is where having a good established relationship with your pet's veterinarian can really come in handy. Most vets will be more likely to work with someone who is a long time established customer than a random Joe off the street. If you take your pet to the vet regularly, prove that you are a good owner and make payments on time, your vet will most likely be more willing to trust you and so more willing to set up a payment plan in the event of an emergency.

If you and your pet are not established customers at any specific vet office, you can still try calling around to different vets in your area to see if any of them will work with you financially. You never know, you may luck out and find a local office that does accept payment plans.

Using credit to cover vet bills

If you can't find a vet who's willing to work with your financial situation, another option is to use credit cards. For people who don't have a significant amount of savings, a low interest credit care can be a life saver. Yes, paying interest sucks, but isn't it worth it if it means you can afford to pay for your pet's life saving treatment?

For those of you who may not be familiar with it, Care credit is a type of credit option that is beginning to be accepted by more and more vets. Basically, a Care Credit card is a credit card that can only be used to pay for medical costs. They can be used to pay doctor and dentist bills, and many veterinarians accept them as well. For most charges, Care Credit will offer a certain number of months interest free. To avoid interest fees, all you have to do is pay off your balance before your interest free time is up. Care Credit can be a good option for owners who like the idea of having a line of credit in case of an emergency, but don't like the idea of having a normal credit card. The Care Credit company is usually able to tell you right away whether or not you are approved for a card, and if you are dealing with an emergency they can provide you with a temporary card number to use even before you receive your card in the mail. If you think Care Credit is something you might like to take advantage of in the future, it doesn't hurt to apply early. The card has no annual fees, so if you apply now you can keep your Care Credit card around just in case you ever need it in an emergency.

Other options...

If you don't qualify for a credit card, and cannot find a vet who offers payment plans, there are still more options out there. First of all, consider asking family members or friends for a loan. Look for low cost vet clinics in your area. Sometimes local animal shelters will run vet clinics that offer lower cost services. These clinics usually aren't completely free, but they can be much cheaper than normal vets.

Worst case scenario, there are some foundations (links below) that exist to help owners in tough financial times deal with pet emergencies. Keep in mind that many of these foundations operate from donations alone, so may at any one time have limited funds. Also, some of them have rigorous acceptance procedures that you will need to go through before being being accepted to receive funds. If you are considering asking for the help of one of the foundations below, make sure to read their website carefully to make sure that you and your pet meet their requirements to qualify for assistance.

Bookmark these links!

AHAA Helping Pets Fund - Fund to help those in need access quality veterinary care for sick or injured pets.

IMOM - Financial assistance for pets in need, helps sick, injured or abused companion animals regardless of species or breed.

Cats in Crisis -Dedicated to helping cats and kittens with special medical needs.

Feline Veterinary Emergency Assistance - Dedicated to helping the owners of cats and kittens who are unable to afford veterinary services during times of life threatening illness or injury.

The Pet Fund -Fund that provides financial assistance to owners of domestic animals.

Red Rover -Provides relief programs to help fund animal rescuers, good Samaritans, and pet owners in need of financial help to care for animals in life threatening situations.

Help-a-Pet -Provides financial assistance nationwide to pet owners who are unable to afford the medical costs of their pets.

Brown Dog Foundation - "Bridging the gap between the cost of medical care and saving the family pet"

The Mosby Foundation -Help with pet medical costs in non-emergency situations.

Tails of Hope Foundation -Helps with the cost of veterinary care for companion animals suffering from cancer or other life-threatening diseases.

Good luck!

If you are currently experiencing a pet emergency, good luck! I wish you and your pet all the best. Remember that it's never to late to start saving for the future care of your pets. Most companion animals, at one time or another, will need to see a vet for something other than just routine care. Part of our job as responsible pet owners is to make sure we can somehow provide for the health care of our pets when they need it.


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    • Dragonrain profile image

      Dragonrain 5 years ago

      Thanks for reading :)

      Here in the US we do have some low cost vet clinics, but not all of them are equipped to deal with serious injuries or illness. A lot of them seem to only handle routine, basic care like vaccinations and spay/neuters.

      Laurel Lee that was nice of you to help the poor rabbit! You're right, I'm not sure many vets these days would do something like that free of charge. I guess the tough economic times are impacting everyone these days, even vet clinics.

    • jacqui2011 profile image

      jacqui2011 5 years ago from Norfolk, UK

      I live in the UK and our local animal shelter holds vet days once a week where animals can be given treatment for a fraction of the cost. We also have a People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (P.D.S.A.) who will treat animals for a small donation. When an animal gets sick, the costs seem to soar. Useful hub and well written. Voted up.

    • Laurel Lee profile image

      Laurel Lee 5 years ago

      Sadly, the economy has affected humanity, perhaps as a matter of necessity. Years ago, I took a wild rabbit that had been caught by someone's dog to a nearby animal hospital, knowing it would have to be euthanized. I really couldn't afford the fee, but felt I had no choice. When I pulled out my checkbook, they refused to let me pay. Recent financial struggles with animal hospitals have made me question whether such compassionate generosity would exist today. Thank you for the links.

    • Dragonrain profile image

      Dragonrain 5 years ago

      Yeah, it's not easy. Most vets these days don't seem all that willing to work with customers financially. Especially if it's someone who's not one of their regular clients.

      That's why I offered other ideas other than just finding a vet that will work with you. Even then, most of the foundations I linked to have limited funds and a pretty intense application process. Times are tough economically, and foundations like the ones above are not getting in as many donations as they used too. I'm sure they'd love it if they could help every animal in need, but that just unfortunately isn't possible.

      I think the best options for pet owners still are to try to prepare for emergencies the best you can. Save money, even if it's just a little at a time, or take out a credit card that you said aside and use only for emergencies.

      For someone in your situation, where it wasn't your dog, I think you did the best you could. At least the dog was off the streets.

    • SandyMcCollum profile image

      SandyMcCollum 5 years ago

      I wish it was really as easy as it sounds. We tried an entire day looking for a vet who would help this stray dog without a big bill. Nobody would do it. It wasn't our dog, and we didn't have the money, so we gave it to the Humane Society, and they acted like they hated taking her.