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Owning a pet can be expensive. While you can budget for many expenses, sometimes pets can end up at the emergency vet’s office, and an emergency vet visit can cost thousands of dollars. In these cases, emergency vet bill assistance can help to cover those bills. Other options like creating a savings fund and investing in pet insurance can help you to prepare for the future.
Highlights/ Key Takeaways
- A consultation at an emergency vet can cost up to $250, but depending on your pet's treatment, the final bill can be even more.
- Financing options and charitable organizations can help to cover emergency vet bills.
- Investing in pet insurance can help you to cover the cost of unexpected emergency vet visits and follow-up treatments that your pet might need.
Getting Help with Emergency Vet Bills
It’s common for pet owners to face unexpected vet bills. Getting these bills can add stress and frustration to a time when you need to focus on your pet, and most vets will require at least a deposit before they treat your pet. Fortunately, there are several ways that you can get emergency vet bill assistance.
Financing your vet bills means your vet will get paid immediately, so your pet will get the necessary treatment. You will be able to gradually pay the bill, rather than having to pay the lump sum. If you’re considering financing, it’s important to understand the terms and conditions of the credit card you’re using:
- CareCredit: Many vet offices offer CareCredit’s credit card as a solution for owners who cannot pay their pet’s bills upfront. Depending on your vet’s agreement with CareCredit, as a new cardholder you will have 6, 12, 18, or 24 months to repay your bill. As long as you make your required minimum monthly payments and pay off the balance in full, you won’t be charged interest during that promotional period.
- Scratchpay: Scratchpay is a payment plan option for vet bills that your vet’s office may offer. Plans are available with biweekly, 12-month, and 24-month options. Down payments and interest rates vary depending on the plan.
You may be able to pay some or all of your pet’s vet bills with crowdfunding. When you create a crowdfunding campaign, your friends, family, and even strangers can contribute toward your pet’s bills. There are several crowdfunding platforms that you can use to create your campaign, share it through email and social media, and collect your donations.
- GoFundMe is a highly popular crowdfunding platform. With GoFundMe, there are no hard deadlines for your campaign, so you can leave it live until you decide to withdraw your funds using an electronic funds transfer.
- Waggle is a crowdfunding platform specifically for pet owners who need to fundraise to pay for their pet’s vet bills. Waggle works with your vet to certify a treatment cost estimate that’s included on your fundraising page, and then pays your vet directly once funds are raised.
- CoFund My Pet is a platform to raise money for your pet’s veterinary expenses. You can create a free campaign to share with friends and family. As your campaign raises money, you can use a CoFund My Pet debit card to pay for your pet’s vet bills at any veterinary office in the United States.
There are many national and local organizations that help to support pet owners in need. Pet owners typically need to apply for assistance and then be approved. Since it can take time to be approved, you may need another method of paying for immediate bills, like a credit card, until you receive this additional funding.
- RedRover Relief provides urgent care grants to help pet owners pay for emergency vet bills.
- The Brown Dog Foundation provides funding to help bridge the gap when paying for emergency vet bills. The foundation makes payments directly to veterinarians.
- Frankie’s Friends provides financial support to help pets who need emergency and specialty vet care, including to treat cancer and other life-threatening conditions.
There may also be local organizations that can help you. Your local animal shelter may be able to connect you with resources in your community. You can also contact nearby veterinary schools to ask about any available discounted care.
You can also apply for a personal loan to help cover vet bills. Keep in mind that personal loans can come with high interest, especially if you have a low credit score. Missed loan payments can negatively impact your credit score. When shopping for a personal loan for your pet, carefully review the loan terms to find the best option for you.
- Compare the loan amounts and only take out as much money as you need to pay for the vet bills.
- Review the repayment terms, which often range from 12 to 60 months or more, and whether you can afford the monthly payments.
- Consider the interest rates and how much you will have paid when you pay off your loan balance.
Ask Your Vet
Your vet may be willing to work with you on a payment plan, or may be willing to reduce the final amount of your bill. Help from your vet’s office isn’t guaranteed, but asking is always an option.
- A vet is more likely to offer a payment plan to a pet owner they have an established relationship with, than to a pet owner who’s new to the practice.
- Even with a payment plan, most vets will require you to pay a significant deposit before they start to treat your dog.
- Some vets don’t offer payment plans at all, so if your vet declines, don’t take it as an insult.
Reasons to Visit the Emergency Vet
Even if you carefully supervise your pet, accidents happen and a trip to the emergency vet might save your pet’s life. Dogs and cats might experience many different life-threatening health issues that result in emergency vet bills.
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Urinary problems
- Trauma, like a car accident or bite wound
- Allergic reactions
- Difficulty breathing
- Labor problems
- Toxin ingestion
- Difficulty walking
Emergency Vet Visit Costs
It can be difficult to plan ahead for emergency vet bills since prices can vary significantly depending on your location, the vet office that you visit, your pet, and the care your pet needs. Understanding some common emergency vet visit costs can give you a general idea of what to expect.
Emergency Consultation Costs
According to CareCredit, an emergency consultation can cost from $150 to $200. The emergency consultation is the initial evaluation that your pet receives during a vet appointment. During the consultation, your vet might do several things:
- Perform a physical evaluation of your pet
- Assess any injuries or problems that need immediate attention
- Stabilize your pet in preparation for additional diagnostics or treatment
- Recommend appropriate diagnostic tests to understand your pet’s injury or illness better
Veterinary Diagnostics Costs
Your vet may need to run diagnostic tests to determine what is wrong with your pet, or to determine the extent of an injury. According to Finimpact research, these are average costs for common tests:
- Lab tests: $200 to $300
- X-rays: $75 to $400
- Ultrasounds: $300 to $600
- MRIs: $1,500 to $2,500
Pet Medication Costs
Your pet may need medication as part of their treatment plan. Medication costs will vary depending on the type of medication needed. Larger pets require more medication, so costs will be higher. According to Preventive Vet, these are average costs for common medications for dogs and cats:
- Pain medication: $40 to $80
- IV fluids: $60 to $95
Pet Surgery Costs
Your pet may need emergency surgery, which can quickly become very expensive. Pet surgery costs include anesthesia, the procedure, and often an overnight stay so your pet can be monitored as they recover. Surgery costs for cats tend to be less expensive than surgeries for dogs.
According to Finimpact research, these are the average costs for common surgeries for cats:
- Mass removal: $500 to $2,500
- Orthopedic surgery: $2,00 to $5,000
According tothe , these are average costs for common surgeries for dogs:
- Mass removal: $500 to $5,000
- ACL repair: $4,000 to $6,000
Learn more about Dog Surgery Costs
How Pet Insurance Can Help With Emergency Vet Bills
Pet insurance can help you to pay for unexpected vet bills. Most pet insurance policies cover injuries and emergencies, surgeries, and hospitalization, but every plan varies so it’s important to review the coverage that you’re buying. Knowing that pet insurance will cover at least part of your pet’s bills can offer peace-of-mind during a stressful trip to the emergency vet. There are a few things to consider when shopping for pet insurance:
- Research different insurance carriers and check reviews to see the experiences that other pet owners have had with each company.
- Carefully read policy coverage explanations and make sure you understand what’s included and what isn’t.
- Get quotes from the companies you’re interested in and consider how the premiums compare.
- Pay attention to each policy’s deductible and ensure you’re prepared to pay that deductible in an emergency. Starting a savings account with enough money to cover the deductible is a great idea.
Emergency vet bills can be expensive, but you don’t have to choose between your pet’s life and financial security. There are many ways to get emergency vet bill assistance, including contacting nonprofits for help, crowdfunding, financing your bill, and taking out a loan. The right choice will depend on your unique situation.