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 for pet expenses on 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 big drain to 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 the 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.

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 is dependent on your pet’s age, breed, and medical history. Take due diligence in researching and evaluating your options.

If, however, you haven’t signed up for pet insurance by the time your pet needed 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.

Try negotiating a payment plan

Don’t be shy or embarrassed to ask your veterinarian if they are willing to work with you on an installment plan. There are veterinarians who offer interest-free repayment, while others require external financing. Either way, this option is worth looking into.

Explore nonprofit aid

Not being able to pay for emergency pet care is a common problem, and there are nonprofit organizations, animal welfare groups, and charities that 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 non-profit groups that offer financial assistance to pet owners.

Use a credit card

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

Get a personal loan

If using a credit card is not a good option for you, you can consider taking a personal loan to pay for emergency pet care. Depending on your credit score and standing, it is possible to get approved of a personal loan with lower interest rates than your credit cards. 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.