Did you know that a pet owner can spend an average of anywhere between $700 to over $1,500 for veterinary care? If your pet faces a condition such as cancer, you can face unexpected bills of $10,000 or more.
Whether you just need to take your cat for an exam or need to get surgery for your dog, vet bills can easily make your financial situation tighter. Having pet insurance can help, but waiting periods and coinsurance can still burden you.
Thankfully, you have many options to get your pet the care it needs. Read on to learn six ways to get help with vet bills.
1. Ask About In-House Payment Arrangements
If your pet has an emergency medical condition or you have significant financial hardship, some veterinary clinics have their own in-house financing arrangements. These involve a personalized agreement between you and the clinic to pay the fee back in set payments over an extended period.
Getting in-house financing often doesn’t require a credit check. You can also avoid paying interest as long as you stick to paying as agreed. However, your vet clinic may charge a small fee to set up the arrangement.
While less common, your vet clinic may allow you to make an alternative payment arrangement. For example, you might do work for the office in exchange for forgiving some of what you owe.
2. Explore Third-Party Veterinary Financing Programs
Even if they don’t offer payment plans directly, the best veterinarian will still inform you about third-party financing options. Two of the most popular ones for veterinary expenses include CareCredit and Scratchpay.
CareCredit works like a credit card that you use for your vet bills. However, it often comes with the perk of promotional financing offers where you pay a fixed payment over a period of six to 60 months. Shorter terms up to 24 months may even allow you to avoid paying interest at all!
You can apply for CareCredit through its website or by phone. Note that you’ll need to undergo a credit check to get CareCredit.
Scratchpay allows you to get financing plans for vet expenses and comes with the option not to have a credit check done. It has a five-payment plan so that you can spread your vet expenses over five two-week periods with no interest. You can get a loan for 12 to 24 months if you’re willing to pay interest and do a credit check.
You can explore your custom payment plan options on Scratchpay’s website. You don’t need to worry about a credit check for this step either.
3. Look for Help Through Animal Welfare Organizations
Charities that focus on animals often offer programs that help individuals whose pets face a health emergency or need spayed or neutered. These programs usually offer grants for part or all of the cost. But some require waiting for approval before getting care.
Some organizations focus on chronic conditions such as animal cancer or diabetes. Others don’t require any specific diagnosis and focus on your financial need.
Some options to check out include Paws 4 A Cure, the Joshua Louis Animal Cancer Foundation, the Magic Bullet Fund, and RedRover Relief Grants.
4. Consider Lower Cost Options for Services
If your vet told you that your pet needs expensive treatment, consider getting a second opinion. Another vet clinic might have lower prices, suggest a different remedy, or offer better payment terms. For example, you might find that a vet in a small town can do the needed surgery cheaper than one in the big city.
Animal shelters and rescues might offer certain treatments free or for a lower cost than a regular veterinary clinic. For example, you can often get cheap vaccinations and basic exams through these venues. You might also find affordable neutering and spaying services through special programs.
If you live near one, a veterinary school can help you save money. You’d have supervised students who provide your pet’s care. It may take longer to get an appointment and do the procedure, but you might find the savings worth it.
5. Ask for Donations
You can also ask generous friends and family members for help with vet bills. In addition to telling people in person, you can post about your pet’s needs on social media. Facebook offers a fundraising tool you can use exactly for this purpose.
You can also consider using crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe and Indiegogo. You can set a goal, share the links to social media, and receive donations from people around the world. When using such services, do check about the fees so that you end up with the money needed for your vet bills.
6. Consider Using a Credit Card or Personal Loan
If you have enough funds on your credit card, you could use it to pay your vet bills. However, you’ll want to consider the interest charges and make sure you can afford the monthly payment. If you qualify, it can be worth applying for a new card with a no-interest period if you think you can pay off the vet bill amount before the promotion ends.
Getting a personal loan through your bank, credit union, or online can also work. This can allow you to get a better interest rate than you would with a credit card. These kinds of loans can come with terms that extend a few years past those offered with options like CareCredit too.
Find Help With Vet Bills Today
Whether you’ve already gotten the bill or need to figure out how to pay for future care, getting help with vet bills doesn’t have to be difficult. Along with using these tips, don’t hesitate to talk to your vet to learn about any other options available for your situation.
If you don’t have pet insurance yet, consider looking into it since it can help provide some relief in the future. These policies tend to have low premiums and deductibles, and they most often cover cats and dogs.
Now that you’ve explored how to pay for vet bills, be sure to check out our other posts about pet care.