Veterinary care can get expensive. For example, the average cost of treating a torn ACL or cartilage is over $2,500, while liver cancer treatment can set you back over $8,500, according to the Veterinary Pet Insurance website. If you are faced with veterinary costs you can't cover, there are organizations and companies out there that can help with grants, special credit cards for veterinary care and low-cost options through local foundations and rescues.
Ask for Help
A number of organizations around the country offer veterinary care assistance for owners who can't afford their vet bills. However, many of these organizations are disease-specific or only serve their immediate geographical area. For example, The Riedel & Cody Fund and the Magic Bullet Fund offer assistance for pets suffering from cancer, while The Big Hearts Fund helps pets suffering with heart disease.
Other organizations focus on specific ages or on either dogs or cats only. An example is Top Dog Foundation "Bentley Grant," which offers financial assistance to senior dogs. Others offer breed-specific help. You can also try your local pet store; Petco Foundation and Petsmart Charities also offer help with low-cost neutering and vaccinations.
You might be able to work out a payment plan with your vet or get a special, lower price by contacting local veterinary school clinics instead of using an animal hospital. This works especially well for small procedures, vaccinations and spay/neuter surgeries. If nothing works, you might consider using an online platform like GoFundMe to ask for donations and raise the money you need.
Search By State
If you need help with more routine care -- such as spay/neuter, vaccines or checkups -- there a number of local organizations and foundations that might help. For example, most Humane Society and ASPCA branches offer low-cost spay/neuter and vaccinations, while some might also offer veterinary care assistance for low-income pet owners.
Many of these state and local organizations are very specific on their requirements, and you might need to apply for assistance and be accepted before help can be offered. For example, The Acme Foundation in California helps senior and disabled pet owners who can't afford veterinary care, while the Arizona Animal Welfare League & SPCA offers a low-cost veterinary clinic that includes dental procedures, small surgeries and health examinations.
Borrow the Money
CareCredit is a special credit card offered to cover health services, including veterinary care. The card offers financing options of anywhere from 6 to 60 months, with different interest rates based on how long your chosen financing period is and how much you're spending. The card can be used for both preventative care -- including vaccinations and check-ups -- and special care, such as surgeries, emergency visits and more.
To apply for CareCredit, you simply fill out a form online that is very similar to other credit card applications. You must provide basic information about yourself, including your social security number, name and address and monthly net income from all sources. You also need to provide an "estimated procedure amount." This is the amount you think you'll need to cover the cost of your pet's treatment. If your application is approved, you will receive a card in the mail that you can use immediately.
Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.