A woman with her dog, talking to the vet.

How to Pay for Emergency Pet Care When You’re Short on Cash

Owning a pet is a huge responsibility. On average, a pet owner spends around a thousand dollars on pet expenses in the first year alone. This includes food, annual medical examinations, toys and treats, spaying or neutering, training, and health insurance, to name a few.

Unexpected trips to the vet can cause a significant drain on your finances, not to mention the anxiety, dread, and worry that come with it. In a 2016 report, it was found that pet parents from California spent the most on unexpected visits to the vet, with an average annual expenditure of $1,521.18. According to Petfinder, a pet adoption site, dog owners should be prepared to pay up to $2,000 or more for emergency veterinary care. 

How much is an average vet visit?

The most basic visit would take around $50 on average, but expect to shell out anywhere north of a hundred dollars for a more extensive check-up. Preventative medicine — for fleas, ticks, and heartworm — costs around $140 to $185. Then, there are allergy tests, blood tests, spay/neuter, vaccination, and so on. 

Now, emergency pet services are a different story altogether. For a broken bone, you have to pay at least $2,000. Bladder or urinary tract infection treatments cost about $400 to $1000. If your pet accidentally swallowed a foreign object, you will pay about $3000. 

How do you prepare for these expenses?

One important thing to do to prepare for such inopportune events is to get pet insurance. Pet insurance policies vary in cost, just like human insurance. The price depends on your pet’s age, breed, and medical history. Take due diligence in researching and evaluating your options.

If you haven’t signed up for pet insurance by the time your pet needs immediate care, it is probably too late to get an insurance policy. This doesn’t mean that your pet must skip the treatment, though. There are still a few options that you can consider — an emergency vet loan or a personal loan, credit card, and nonprofit aid, to name a few.

How do you pay for emergency pet care when you’re short on cash?

Try negotiating a payment plan

Don’t be shy or embarrassed to ask your veterinarian if they will work with you on an installment plan. Some veterinarians offer interest-free repayment, while others require external financing. Unfortunately, it may not be standard for all veterinary clinics to provide such deals. Still, your veterinarian might consider it, primarily if they’ve known you and your pet for a while. Either way, this option is worth looking into. 

Explore nonprofit aid

Not being able to pay for emergency pet care is a common problem. Some nonprofit organizations, animal welfare groups, and charities are willing to lend a helping hand to pet parents who struggle financially. There are animal shelters that offer veterinary loans and grants. There are also veterinary schools that run low-cost clinics. The Humane Society of the United States maintains a database of national and regional nonprofit groups that offer financial assistance to pet owners. Here are other charities that help pet owners pay vet bills.

  • The Pet Fund. They assist pet owners with bills related to non-urgent, non-basic medical care for heart disease, cancer, and other chronic conditions.
  • Bow Wow Buddies Foundation. They help those caring for injured and sick dogs pay for urgent care and vet bills for life-threatening diseases. 
  • Diabetes Cats In Need. They offer financial assistance for insulin, assist in finding homes for abandoned diabetic cats, and launch rescue programs for unwanted cats.
  • Magic Bullet Fund. They help bridge the gap for those unable to complete payments for their dog’s cancer treatment. They don’t give grants per se but rather help raise funds for the pet owners.

Borrow from family and friends

Not everyone is comfortable asking for financial assistance from friends and family. However, this could be the cheapest way to borrow money. Keep in mind that there is a possibility that you will need more money in the long run — in case you can’t keep up with the payments and end up paying late fees and penalties. Nevertheless, give this option a try, and you might be surprised at how willing your friends and family would be to help you keep your pet safe and healthy. 

Try crowdsourcing

Another option would be to fundraise, so you don’t have to put much pressure on just one individual. Some platforms allow you to reach more people and spread the word. You can get help from good samaritans, but it would also be helpful to share it with your network so your contacts can help you get the word out. 

Use a credit card

Putting the debt on a credit card is a viable option. If you must go this route, set a deadline to repay the debt and stick to it. Work out a repayment plan and determine how much you will pay monthly, and pay your bills on time. Remember that putting large bills on your credit card can negatively impact your credit score.

Get an emergency vet loan

If using a credit card is not a good option, consider taking an emergency vet loan, which basically works the same way as a personal loan, to pay for emergency pet care. Depending on your credit score and standing, getting approved for an emergency vet loan with lower interest rates than your credit cards is possible. Some lenders offer rates as low as 4.99%. Loan periods typically range from two to five years, with payments staying the same every month. Since a personal loan spreads the payment period over several years, it could be your most affordable option.

Final Thoughts

Caring for a pet is a serious financial responsibility. And being short on cash while your pet needs medical care can be stressful. The list above contains some ways you might consider in coming up with funds to pay for veterinary bills. 

Payment1’s expert lending team can help you go through your options if a personal loan is a route you are taking. Our payment plans are tailored to your budget and capabilities to ensure that you repay your loan comfortably. Contact us today!