How to Pay for Emergency Pet Care
- October 9, 2018
- Posted by: Ashley Sutphin Watkins
- Category: Pet Insurance
At a Glance:
There are a number of payment options available for consumers who need to pay for emergency pet care. Consumers may consider using pet insurance, credit cards, personal loans, welfare organizations, and veterinary schools.
Most pets are like members of people’s families, and as with humans, when they become sick or unwell, they may need emergency medical treatment. There are costs associated with routine vet care, but the very significant expenses usually come when emergency care is required.
The average cost for an emergency visit to a vet clinic can be as much as $120, additionally diagnostics can cost about $200 to $250 for each test. Outpatient treatment usually begins at around $200, and then for just 24 hours of hospitalization, the starting costs can be as much as $1,200. Treatment for large dogs is often times more expensive. Lastly, for anesthesia and surgery, the costs typically range from $3,000 to $4,000.
Most people don’t necessarily have this kind of spare cash lying around, and they may wonder what their options are if they need to pay for emergency pet expenses. The following are some options to cover these costs if they do arise.
Buy Pet Insurance in Advance
Pet insurance is one option for pet owners. The level of coverage depends on the policy and the company, so it’s important to read the fine print before deciding on an option. Most pet insurance policies will cover accidents, injuries, imaging, diagnostic treatment, and in most cases things like surgeries and cancer treatment as well.
According to our research, the monthly cost of pet insurance for dogs is as low as $17 a month, and for cats, as low as $9 per month. There are policies covering both accidents and injuries.
Use a Credit Card or Personal Loan
There are options to pay for emergency pet expenses even without pet insurance. Two options are a credit card and a personal loan. Credit cards tend to have higher interest rates, however, so they might not be the best option for all consumers.
A personal loan is likely going to have a lower interest rate, and you may be able to qualify and receive funding online. However, not all personal loans have lower interest rates than credit cards. Personal loans are typically unsecured, and the interest rate you receive will be based on your credit score and income.
If you are going to use a credit card, if possible, use one that it is a low interest card. If you have a strong credit score, you might consider looking for a card that has a 0% interest introductory period. This will allow you to pay off your vet bills within a period of time and pay no interest.
A program like CareCredit is a way to finance veterinary care. CareCredit offers all kinds of medical care financing, including for pets. These programs let users use a credit card with flexible repayment and use options.
Contact an Animal Welfare Organization
There are a variety of nonprofit organizations that provide some level of funding or repayment plans for veterinary care to people who don’t have the financial means to pay for these things up front. Some of the many national organizations a person might want to consider include The Big Hearts Fund, the Joshua Louis Animal Cancer Foundation, and The Pet Fund. The Humane Society maintains a list of federal and state organizations that provide funding for pet care.
Contact a Veterinarian School
If your pet needs costly care, you may live close enough to a veterinary school to go there for treatment. Many vet schools do offer reduced-cost clinics for limited or low-income pet owners. The American Veterinary Medical Association’s website offers a list of these clinics.
While people feel anxious to find that their pet needs expensive care, there are many financing and payment options available. They can work on negotiating a payment plan with their vet. This is something many veterinarians will do as long as the client is in good standing otherwise. However, if you’re visiting a new vet, this may not be an option. If your vet is suggesting something expensive, always get a second opinion because another care provider may have less expensive alternative options. Vets in smaller towns also tend to be less expensive than metropolitan-area vets.
Other options include pet insurance and personal loans. For people who are low-income or who can’t afford the cost of a particular treatment, there are financial assistance programs from private and non-profit organizations around the nation. There are also specific options based on certain types of dog breeds and for service dogs.
There are always options if your pet is in need of care, and there’s no reason to feel as if you’re not going to be able to provide your pet with the treatment it needs because of financial limitations. It can just take research to find the right payment option.