5 ways to save on your pet’s health care

A sad dog lying on a bed and wearing a cone.

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Part of loving a pet is paying for their care when they need it.


Key points

  • There are organizations dedicated to making pet care affordable.
  • The best time to make a plan for your pet’s health care is now.

Most of us consider our pets like family, and there are few things worse than not being able to afford care when those furry (or feathered, or scaly) members of the family need it. Here, we present some of the ways you can provide medical care for your pet without draining your bank account.

You may find some of these methods a bit “out there”, but hopefully one or two will work for you.

1. Online consultation

This suggestion may sound insultingly simple, but when my husband and I were young, in college, and broke, we looked for places that offered low-cost vaccinations for our dog. Fortunately, a pet store not far from our apartment provided that service. We regularly lined up with other pet owners to have our dog checked out by a vet and given the proper shots. We kept his shot record like a passport and made sure it was up to date. He lived a long and healthy life.

To make sure it’s still “a thing”, I just did a quick search online. Our local animal shelter offers low-cost spay and neuter services, as well as free rabies shots. There is also an organization that offers discounted vaccination packages for pets of all ages. SNAP recipients get an even bigger discount.

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Don’t be discouraged if you don’t find something right away. Expand your search parameter to include the entire county or call your local humane society to inquire about programs not listed online.

2. Secure a line of credit

No one likes to go into debt, but if your pet is sick or injured, applying for a line of credit through a company like Scratchpay or CareCredit can help cover an emergency situation.

3. Collective Fund

Let’s say your pet has a serious condition. Co-finance my pet allows you to upload a photo of your pet and explain why it needs veterinary care. When people make a donation, they know that all funds raised through this crowdfunding site can only be spent on veterinary clinics and will not go to any other cause.

4. Sell something

It is very likely that you have something sitting around your house that you no longer need. Or clean out your basement or attic and sell a bunch of stuff. Whether you’re hosting a virtual online garage sale or an old-school tag sale in your front yard, all those things you no longer need or use are sure to come in handy for someone else. And the money can go toward vet bills or a savings account for future care.

5. Consider pet insurance

I suspect the last thing you want to hear right now is, “You must have pet insurance,” especially if your pet is in immediate need. However, as someone who has had pets with and without insurance, I need you to know how much you can help. Let’s say you have a cat that you adore. For less than $10 a month, you can buy a policy that will help you pay for what might go wrong. He won’t cover the entire bill, but he will pay 70% to 90% of the medical care, depending on the policy you choose.

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I have two middle-aged dogs and pay less than $52 a month to cover them both ($26 each). You could easily find a less expensive monthly premium, but this policy pays for everything from surgery to chemotherapy to stem cell replacement. If that sounds excessive, that’s because I made a medical decision on behalf of a dog based, in part, on how much the treatment was going to cost, and I promised myself (and that dog) that I would never do it again.

No matter what happens, if your pet is suffering, don’t give up. If you can’t find help locally, contact an organization that specializes in this area. Some examples include:

Veterinary care is expensive. Fortunately, there are many good people in this world willing to help cover the costs.

If you don’t currently have a plan to pay for your pet’s medical care, today is the day to decide what you will do if your pet is sick or injured. Waiting until your pet is in pain will only add to his stress.