So many pet parents end up in a situation, where they can’t afford their dog’s veterinary bill. Yet, they want to provide the best care for their dog. But what can you do, when you simply can’t afford your dog’s bill?
Carol, from Fidose of Reality and myself, would like to provide you with some options for what to do when you can’t afford your pet’s medical bill.
Discuss with Your Vet
First things first, if you have a good relationship with your veterinarian and their office, ask them if they allow, or offer payment plans. Most of the offices that I worked for did not. For a variety of reasons, it wasn’t fiscally feasible for us to offer payment plans for clients because we were unaware of their credit information and often, their ability to pay us back. You can imagine that a few people might take the treatment and then we would never hear from them again.
However, I do know that on occasion, veterinarians offer payment plans, and it might be your best bet for affording your dog’s treatment.
If your veterinarian doesn’t offer payment plans, Care Credit does. I have Care Credit, which works not just for veterinary bills, but dental and medical bills as well. Care Credit allows you to borrow money for 6 months interest-free. Often, you can get approved right there in the vet hospital.
Of course, the downside is that you have to get approved and you may not be approved for the amount that you owe the vet hospital. However, it certainly allows you some temporary, interest-free, financial flexibility.
We used Care Credit to pay for Rooney’s treatment when he slipped a disc in 2014. Of course, we have Trupanion pet insurance, but at the time they didn’t offer express payments like they do now (or at least we didn’t know that was available). So we originally had to pay up front and then were reimbursed later. Care Credit gave us the flexibility and saved us from having to put the payment on our credit card and having to pay a month’s interest.
Ask about a Good Samaritan Account
On occasion, veterinary hospitals will have what’s called a Good Samaritan account, sometimes known as a “Good Sam” account. These accounts are comprised of donations made by other pet parents, clients, and people from the community, for pet parents who struggle to pay their bill.
I am unfamiliar with the distribution for these accounts. However, I think the hospital managers and owners decide who gets the fund from the Good Samaritan account. When you are backed into a financial corner, every little bit helps, so always be sure to ask if this is an option.
More often than not, you see people using this option these days. Sites like GoFundMe, LoveAnimals.org, YouCaring.com, provide individuals and organizations the opportunity to raise funds to cover the cost of major medical treatments. You may remember in December; we raised $2,495 for Finn the Border Collie who needed surgery on GoFundMe. We also used LoveAnimals.org to raise $910 for kittens burned in the Northern California fires in 2015 and $1,790 for Bentley the Bulldog who was surrendered by his owners with a myriad of health issues and in desperate need of an eye surgery.
To succeed on these sites, I highly recommend the following:
- Share the full story and be honest: These sites are proof that people are really kind and generous. However, people also don’t want other people to take advantage of them. Sharing your story and predicament is key to being honest and upfront.
- Share photos and videos: It is crucial to include photos and videos for your campaign to maintain legitimacy. The media updates also help people connect to their donation. I know when I make donations, I like seeing progress updates. It makes me feel like my donation is actually helping and making improvements.
Breed Specific Rescues & Organizations
Because breed specific rescues are non-profits, they often receive donations to help pets with their veterinary bills. If you have a good relationship with your local rescue, reach out and see if they have the capacity to help you. Most people in the animal community work hard to make sure that pets have homes. Therefore, when people can still give their pet a home and just need a little financial help, most organizations are looking to help where they can.
For example, Corgi owners can reach out to CorgiAid to see if they can help with a medical grant or wheelchair donation.
Iheartdog.com, recommends reaching out to disease-specific organizations to help you and your family recover from a sudden diagnosis or treatment. A few of the examples they included were Canine Cancer Awareness and The Magic Bullet Fund. I don’t actually know of anyone who used these sites to help pay veterinary bills, but they might be an option worth considering for a major diagnosis.
Pet parents might not be able to pay for their pet’s bill due to a variety of reasons. When I worked in Davis, we had a lot of clients who were seniors and were on a fixed income. They simply couldn’t afford surprises. Not to mention, during the recession, so many pet parents were unable to afford surprises. Therefore, organizations have formed to help pet parents make it through difficult financial times.
RedRover.org– “The RedRover Relief program provides financial assistance, resources and emotional support to pet guardians struggling with economic hardship when pets are in need of urgent and emergency veterinary care, as well as support and resources to help victims of domestic violence escape abusive environments with their pets.”
Harley’s Hope Foundation – “Please note that in veterinary cases, HHF funds are for treatment only. We do not cover the cost of diagnosing medical issues, so candidates must have already received a diagnosis, treatment plan, and survival prognosis of fair or better to qualify. This program is offered nationwide as resources allow.”
Some organizations are location specific, like FACE Foundation, based in San Diego. Therefore, ask your veterinarian or other local rescue and shelter organizations if they know of any groups willing to help pet parents in your local area.
Plan for the Future
If you are reading this post and you haven’t yet been surprised by an emergency vet bill, I highly urge you to plan ahead!
Most pets need some form of major treatment at some point in their life. Many breeds suffer from issues that are expensive, but not all at once like allergies, hip dysplasia, or arthritis. So preparation is a given for pet parenthood. But how can you get started planning?
Pet Insurance – We have Trupanion pet insurance for Rooney and highly recommend it to any pet parent. In the 5 years that we have had Rooney, his monthly pet insurance bills have paid for themselves. Not to mention, pet insurance has provided us with the opportunity to give Rooney the best care possible even when we didn’t have the extra cash.
Pet Savings Accounts – If pet insurance isn’t your first choice, pet savings accounts might be the next best thing. Based on this article from NerdWallet, it seems like a lot of local credit unions and small banks offer pet savings accounts to their clients that help them save money and provide other community perks.
Pay it Forward
You never know when you will need to ask others around you for help. Therefore, I firmly believe in paying it forward today. Here are a few things you can do to help other pet parents who might be struggling to pay their veterinary bill:
- Share on Social Media: Social media is a very powerful tool. If you have a friend or family member who is running a crowdfunding campaign, share the link with your Facebook friends!
- Donate to Crowdfunding Campaigns: When you can, take the time to donate to a crowdfunding campaign.
- Donate to a Good Samaritan Account: If your veterinary hospital has a Good Samaritan account, consider donating if you have the extra cash today.
Carol has put together an amazing list of resources so hop on over to Fidose of Reality to learn more about what you can do to pay your veterinary bill!