For many dog owners, paying for vet bills out of pocket isn't always an option. Between the money you spend on their food and toys along with everything you have to pay for just in your own life, a big vet bill can definitely throw you for a loop.
Fortunately, if you are one of the many dog owners being faced with a looming quote or bill that you’re not sure you can afford up-front, there are many options so that you can get your pooch the care they need without having to sacrifice your own necessities.
#1 Ask for a payment plan
Vet offices realize that some costs simply aren’t easy to swallow. However, that’s the price we pay to keep our four-legged friends healthy and happy.
Most offices are definitely willing to step up to the plate and work with your budget so that they can deliver the utmost care to your pet without breaking the bank. It’s best to ask beforehand, if you can, to work out a payment plan. However, even after the fact, most offices are more than happy to work something out with you.
For those without pet insurance (and even those who have it), your office may be able to provide a payment plan. This means that, rather than paying everything up front, you’ll be able to pay the bill in weekly or monthly installments that are a bit easier to manage,
If your clinic is registered with ScratchPay or a similar service, they should be able to offer a payment plan to you.
#2 Get a line of credit
In addition to considering a payment plan through the vet office directly, you can also try out a service like carecredit.com that will provide you with financing of sorts to cover your vet bills.
Basically, the line of credit works like a credit card. You’ll be given a cap of a few hundred of few thousand dollars and then any charges deducted from your line of credit can be paid back with time.
They will approve you for up to $2,000 in instantly available funds, so it might be a fantastic thing to look into, especially if you’re being faced with an emergency vet bill that you weren’t planning on.
Keep in mind that, while you’ll have between 6 and 24 months to fully repay what you borrowed, failing to pay it back in time will incur a hefty penalty. So long as you pay it back within the promotional period, you won’t have to pay interest.
Since this is a line of credit, itwill report on your credit report so take paying it back seriously!
#3 Pet Insurance
Similarly to the health insurance that you should be carrying for yourself, there are also pet insurance plans that can cover your vet bills with only a deductible coming out of your pocket.
Some pet insurance plans actually offer coverage even if your pet has pre-existing conditions. So, if you have gotten a quote for a treatment or surgery and you know it’s going to cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, it might be worth it to go ahead and signup for insurance.
As always, be certain that you read the fine print. Some pet insurance plans will not cover pre-existing conditions and others will exclude certain things from their coverage. When in doubt, call to speak with a representative directly and tell them what situation you’re in.
Also, be certain that the clinic you will be taking your pooch to accepts your pet insurance. You can confirm this with a quick phone call.
#4 Charitable Organizations
Were you just hit with a big vet bill that you’re not so sure you’ll be able to cover on your own? If the above options won’t cut it, you might consider reaching out to a chariable organization or even setting up your own fundraising campaign.
GoFundMe is among the most popular platforms to raise money for causes, whether it’s the much-needed surgery for your dog or some other treatment that they desperately need, but you can’t afford on your own.
Some organizations will also be willing to give donations to cover emergency surgeries and vet bills. A few animal shelters have funds for just this purpose, although not all of them will be in a position to help since they have so many animals to care for on their own.
If you are reaching out to a foundation, consider the Brown Dog Foundation and the Pet Fund because they were specifically established to help people in your type of situation.
As a last resort, it never hurts to ask for family members and friends to pitch in. Explain to them what has happened, how much you need, and how soon you would ideally need it.
Bringing your dog along as you ask never hurts either, because who can say no to those puppy dog eyes?
#5 Create a pet bill fund
While this may not be of immediate assistance to you, using your recent vet bill as a lesson to build up a cushion for any similar future instances can prevent you from finding yourself in the same predicament again.
If you don’t want to pay a monthly fee for pet insurance that you don’t foresee using again, you can put some money directly into a high-interest savings account every month in case your dog ever has another surprise vet visit pop up.
How much you put away will depend on your budget, but it could truly make a lifesaving difference next time your dog needs a treatment or surgery that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to pay on your own.