When your pet gets sick you want to do everything you can to care for them and restore their health.
But vet care can be very costly, and if you’re unemployed, living on a low income, or just going through a tough phase financially, affording it can be difficult, if not impossible.
Sure, there are ways you can save money on vet bills, but there are also many wonderful organizations and charities that offer low cost and even no-cost veterinary services for dogs, cats and other pets.
Getting completely free veterinary care for your pet can be tough, but there are a few organizations out there that offer financial assistance, including:
PAWS is an organization that helps people to pay for vet care.
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It also offers a variety of no-cost veterinary services, like vaccinations and microchipping. PAWS offers this free veterinary care to pet owners that are living on a low income.
If you want to get help from PAWs, visit the link below.
- More info at: https://www.paws.org/about/contact/
2. AVMF’s Veterinary Care Charitable Fund
The American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) offers a program called the Veterinary Care Charitable Fund.
It helps veterinarians to provide low cost and free veterinary care for low-income pet owners, disabled veterans, and victims of domestic violence.
You can learn more about the fund on their site.
The program is open to current clients of AVMA member veterinarians who are enrolled with the AVMF.
Ask your personal veterinarian if they are enrolled. If not, your veterinarian can contact AVMF for more information on participating in the program.
The Prince Chunk Emergency Veterinary Care Assistance Program provides free emergency vet care to pet owners that are struggling financially.
What’s great about this program is that you can pre-apply for it. So, even if your pet is healthy now, you can apply for funding for future emergency care, should your pet need it.
Then, if an emergency does occur, the program will pre-approve your application and keep it on file, and then your pet can get care as quickly as possible.
So, whether you’re living on a low income or are looking for free vet care for unemployed pet owners, you should definitely take a look at the Emergency Veterinary Care Assistance Program
You can find out if you are eligible for the program, by reading the “Maximum Family Income Eligibility” Document. All the documents you need, contact numbers and more information about the program can all be found on the page below.
4. First Coast No More Homeless Pets (FCNMHP)
FCNMHP is an organization that offers free, discounted and low-cost veterinary services. It offers free services in certain areas, like spaying/neutering. If you want to learn about which free vet services are available, then visit the “Free, Discounted, and Low-Cost Veterinary Services” (link below) page of the FCNMHP website.
The organization also provides a plethora of low-cost vet services. Since 2009, the FCNMHP has provided more than 60,000 pets with state-of-the-art medical care at 40 percent less than the cost of most veterinary clinics.
5. Local clinics near you
A lot of local clinics offer free veterinary care. At these clinics, you can get treatments and medical care for your pet.
These clinics generally provide free or low-cost spaying/neutering, but sometimes they offer other basic services.
If you’re wondering “how can I find free vet clinics near me?”, then you should check out the links below.
On the pages linked below, you can search for clinics in your area:
How to Find Low Cost Vet Care Near Me!
Unfortunately, there aren’t that many organizations and animal hospitals out there that provide completely free veterinary care, but there are many that offer low-cost vet care.
This can be really helpful if you’re struggling financially.
Here are a few organizations and resources you should check out.
The aim of SpayUSA is to provide low-cost spaying and neutering services to pet owners. It acts as a referral service that connects pet owners in need of financial assistance to over 1,500 low-cost clinics and sterilization programs.
For more information on the program, visit SpayUSA.org.
7. Shakespeare Animal Fund
The Shakespeare Animal Fund provides financial assistance to pet owners who can’t afford to pay for veterinary care.
It assists pet owners who have a fixed income or earn below $35,000 per year. The organization offers one-time grants.
You can learn more about eligibility requirements and how the organization can help you by visiting ShakespeareAnimalFund.org.
8. Visit a veterinary school or college near you
Many veterinary schools offer the same services that veterinary clinics do, but at a much lower cost.
All of the procedures and treatments performed by students are supervised by a vet too.
If you want to find an accredited veterinary college near you, then check out the Accredited Veterinary Colleges list from the American Veterinary Medical Association.
9. Local animal welfare groups and charities
A lot of local animal shelters, animal welfare organizations and rescue groups provide low cost vet care. They usually offer routine care and services like spaying/neutering.
If you want to find a welfare group, charity or organization in your area, then check out this list from Petfinder.com or this list from The Humane Society.
10. Compare prices for prescriptions
Pet medication can be pricey. And as far as I know, there aren’t any prescription discount cards or programs like there are for humans, for animal prescriptions. That said, if you do a little research, you might be able to find it at a lower cost.
Take the time to compare the prices of medication from places like:
You might find that the prices at your vet’s are cheaper or more expensive, but it’s always good to do a bit of comparison shopping.
Always be careful when you’re buying medications for your pet. Only buy from reputable, well-reviewed sites. You don’t want to put your pet’s health at risk.
There’s a useful guide from the USFDA that offers advice and safety tips for buying pet meds online. Check it out here.
11. Check out our list of organizations that help with vet bills
We recently published an in-depth post that lists more than20 organizations that help with vet bills.
You should definitely check it out for more resources.
How to Save Money on Veterinary Bills (Without Compromising Your Pet’s Health)
If you’re wondering how to save money on vet bills, check out our handy guide. It will help you to lessen the financial impact of being a pet owner.
1. Keep your pet at a healthy weight
If you want to lower vet bills, then make sure to maintain a healthy lifestyle for your pet. Many of the health problems that affect pets, like cats and dogs, are caused by them being overweight or even obese.
Dogs, cats, and other pets that are on the heavier side are at a higher risk of issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis.
So, make sure that you don’t overfeed your pet and that they get plenty of exercise – this will not only save you money on vet bills, but also on food!
Ask your vet for advice on how much your pet should be eating.
You can also find a lot of info online about how much to feed certain pets.
Here are a few great resources:
- Are You Feeding Your Dog the Right Amount? – Pet MD
- Feeding Tips for Big, Little, and Middle-Sized Dogs – Web MD
- Cat Nutrition Tips – ASPCA
- How Much Should I Feed My Cat? – Pet MD
2. Take your pet for checkups regularly
While it might seem pricey up front to take your pet for regular checkups, it can actually save you money in the long run.
When you take your pet for a physical examination, the vet can detect issues early on, before they turn into a more complicated and expensive problem – essentially, you can save yourself a ton on medical bills just by taking your pet for checkups.
Dogs and cats, depending on their age and breed, require a checkup once to twice per year – ask your vet how often your pet requires a checkup.
3. Use the right supplements
Using nutritional supplements can have a really positive impact on your furry friends’ health.
Many of them can help boost your pet’s immune system, and improve their overall health. But, be careful not to get caught up in the marketing hype when choosing supplements – many supplements are unnecessary.
Instead, ask your vet about which ones your pet would actually benefit from.
When you give your pet supplements, itkeeps them healthy and prevents future trips to the vet.
Here are a few resources for you to check out:
- The Top Ten Pet Supplements: Do They Work? – Science Based Medicine
- The Importance of Supplements for Your Pets – Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences
4. Look around for the best deal
Did you know that fees for treatments and procedures can vary significantly from one vet to the next?
One vet might charge significantly less than another for checkups.
Or you might find that one facility charges much more for an ultrasound than another one does.
So, take the time to shop around for services and call to get a few quotes – when you do this, you can often save yourself a lot of money on vet bills.
5. Consider veterinary colleges
Veterinary colleges are one of the best places to find cheap pet care services.
At vet colleges, students looking for practical experience offer services like checkups and vaccinations. Some also offer basic procedures too.
And, most of these services and procedures are overseen by an experienced vet.
So, if you’re really struggling, then it’s definitely worth contacting a local vet college.
Check out this page to find accredited veterinary colleges.
6. Pick up medications and treatments elsewhere
Some vets markup treatments and medications they prescribe, meaning you can end up paying more than you really need to.
So, if your pet is prescribed a particular medication, then don’t automatically buy it from your vet.
Instead, ask for a written prescription and then call and ask around for the price of that medication at other vet facilities – you might find that you can get the prescription filled for less elsewhere or you’ll find that your vet does, in fact, offer the best price.
7. Stay up to date with vaccinations and treatments
Staying up to date with vaccinations and treatments can save you a lot of money on vet bills in the long run.
When you stay up to date with your pet’s treatments and vaccinations, it prevents them from developing health issues that are more expensive to treat.
For example, treating heartworms is much more expensive, than simply preventing them.
So, ask your vet for advice on what vaccines and treatments your pet needs.
8. Reach out to organizations that help with vet bills
There are many organizations out there, like the ASPCA and The Humane Society, that want to ensure that low-cost pet care is available to everyone. So, these organizations often provide discounted services.
They often hold events throughout the year where they provide vaccinations, spay/neuter procedures and other treatments and services. So, contact them and ask about any discounted services and other resources in your area.
Also, if you’re really struggling, as your pet needs a treatment that you can’t afford, then consider contacting an animal welfare charity.
Take a look at this page for animal charities.
9. Ask about a payment plan
Did you know that some vets give you the option to set up a payment plan, rather than paying for treatments and procedures upfront?
If there’s a particularly expensive treatment or procedure that your pet needs, then ask your vet if you can set up a payment plan and pay it off slowly over time.
10. Consider Pet Insurance
Getting pet insurance can be a good option financially – particularly when it comes to expensive or unexpected treatments and procedures.
It can save you thousands on vet bills.
So, it’s definitely worth considering. Just make sure that you shop around to get the best deal.
To get a quick estimate on how much ensuring your pet will cost, use ASPCA’s Pet Insurance quote tool.
If you don’t want to get pet insurance, then consider setting up a savings account for your pet – each month you can deposit money into the account. Then, if your pet ever does need an expensive procedure, then you’ll have the money there.
The Bottom Line
Paying for your pet’s care can be tough when you’re already struggling financially. Whether you’re unemployed, living on a low income or are just going through a tough financial phase right now, these free and/or low cost vet care services can be tremendously helpful.
Check for state-specific financial assistance programs for pet healthcare. If there's no fund designed for your specific situation, RedRover's Urgent Care Grants might help. RedRover provides almost 700 grants every year for pets whose owners can't afford treatment, with an average grant amount of $200.What can I do for a sick dog with no money? ›
- Ask for a payment plan. Talk with your vet frankly about your economic situation. ...
- Find a free or low-cost clinic. ...
- Look for a veterinary teaching college. ...
- Financial and natural disaster assistance. ...
- Cancer assistance.
- Choose pet insurance. ...
- Get a Credit Line. ...
- Ask for payment options. ...
- Consider crowdfunding. ...
- Host a group yard sale. ...
- Use free or low cost clinics. ...
- Ask friends or family. ...
- Start a pet savings account.
- Look for low-cost alternatives. ...
- Try a veterinary school. ...
- Shop around. ...
- Ask your vet for help. ...
- Find a charity. ...
- Look for cheaper prescriptions. ...
- Keep an eye out for specials. ...
- Be proactive to protect your pet's health.
- Watch their figure. ...
- Regularly check and clear their ears. ...
- Good Oral Hygiene = better breath and overall health. ...
- Package the necessary vaccinations. ...
- Purchase pet insurance.
Fortunately, there are dozens of free and low-cost options for veterinary care throughout the United States. Many charitable organizations offer reduced or free care for basic services and vaccinations. Additionally, it's always worth a shot to ask your local veterinary clinic about any promotions they're running.What is the cheapest way to feed dogs? ›
Dry diets are by far the most economical and healthy way of feeding your doggo and saving some coin.Can I get help with vet bills if I'm on benefits? ›
Several animal charities offer help with vet bills to pet owners who receive benefits. Among the best known are PDSA and Blue Cross, which both run a number of pet hospitals around the country.What do you need to qualify for free PDSA treatment? ›
To qualify for free treatments and medications, you must live within the postcode catchment area of one of our Pet Hospitals and be receiving at least one of the following benefits: Housing benefit (means tested) Council tax support (means tested) Universal credit with housing element.Can the vet keep my cat if I can't pay? ›
IF THE AMOUNT DUE FOR VETERINARY SERVICES HAS NOT BEEN PAID WITHIN 10 DAYS AFTER THE PAYMENT HAS BECOME DUE, A VETERINARIAN MAY KEEP AN ANIMAL AFTER TREATMENT AND THE ANIMAL IS THEN CONSIDERED LIENED. A LIEN IS THE RIGHT TO HOLD ANOTHER'S PROPERTY UNTIL THE DEBT ON IT IS PAID.
If your pet needs services that are beyond your financial means and you have exhausted all options, speak with your veterinarian. They may have a pet fund available. Hospitals have created these funds to help owners experiencing financial difficulty.How can I get free food for my cat? ›
Check for surplus cat food at your local animal shelter or even at a food bank or food pantry. Some animal shelters also have animal food banks. See our state-by-state list of animal food banks.What states have the cheapest vets? ›
North Dakota and Arkansas have average vet costs of $769 each and are tied in Petplan's ranking for the least expensive states. Around 1 percent of pet owners have insurance on their four-legged companions.Why are vets allowed to charge so much? ›
They need to pay their vets –– who are highly qualified and in demand–– as well as other staff members, such as nurses, receptionists, practice managers and so on. All these costs quickly add up, meaning practices need to find ways to recoup this money. The veterinary equipment is also expensive to buy and maintain.Do you have to pay vet bills straight away? ›
Most pet insurance companies will require you to pay for your entire veterinary bill upfront, first of all; and then claim the money back from your pet insurance company.How long should I keep vet bills? ›
The following is a compilation of state laws that AVMA research has identified governing the retention of veterinary records. Typically states require veterinarians to keep records anywhere from 3-5 years after the last patient exam or treatment.How much should I save for vet bills? ›
If you have a pet, you'll want to save an additional $1,000 to $2,000. Even with pet insurance, a catastrophic accident or illness could cost a couple thousand dollars in co-pays and deductibles.Is it abuse to not take a dog to the vet? ›
State animal cruelty laws punish a wide range of behavior, from torturing animals to not providing proper shelter or veterinary care. It's against the law in every U.S. state to treat animals cruelly.What happens if you leave your dog at the vet? ›
Leaving your dog overnight at the vet can be very dangerous and sometimes deadly. I used to believe my dog was being cared for by dedicated staff or at least a veterinary technician or nurse. Many veterinary practices do not have the staff nor budget to have someone present around the clock.What is the first signs of parvo in a dog? ›
Some of the signs of parvovirus include lethargy; loss of appetite; abdominal pain and bloating; fever or low body temperature (hypothermia); vomiting; and severe, often bloody, diarrhea. Persistent vomiting and diarrhea can cause rapid dehydration, and damage to the intestines and immune system can cause septic shock.
Pork is pretty affordable (it's usually somewhere between the cost of chicken and beef), and most dogs appear to appreciate its density, texture, and flavor. Pork has much more fat than beef or chicken, and it has about the same amount of protein as beef.What is free choice feeding for dogs? ›
Free-Choice Feeding. Free-choice feeding involves having a surplus amount of food available at all times. The pet is able to consume as much food as is desired at any time of the day. This type of feeding relies on the animal's ability to self-regulate food intake so that energy and nutrient needs are met.How much can a dog live without food? ›
How Long Can a Dog Go Without Food? Dogs can usually go three to five days without food, however, this is not ideal. If your dog has gone two days without food, it is highly recommended you call a veterinarian if you haven't already. More important than your dog eating is their water intake.Is PDSA completely free? ›
PDSA provides free and reduced cost veterinary services to the pets of people in need. To access these services pet owners need to meet our eligible criteria which can be found here. Are there any restrictions to PDSA Veterinary Services?What benefits do I need to qualify for PDSA? ›
- Universal credit (without housing element)
- Child tax and working tax credits.
- Pension credit.
- Income support.
- Job seekers allowance.
- ESA – (Income Based Only) Employment Support Allowance.
- Disability living allowance/personal independence payment (PIP)
PDSA offers free and low cost veterinary care to poorly pets in need. Find out what help is available.How much do you pay at PDSA? ›
How much does PDSA Pet Care cost? There is a monthly fee of £4.50 to join the PDSA Pet Care scheme by Direct Debit. Alternatively, you can pay the annual fee of £54 at the point of registration. What pets can I register?Can anyone register with PDSA? ›
You must be 16 or over to register for our services.What are PDSA vets? ›
PDSA is a charity. We want a lifetime of wellbeing for every pet. Every day, vets in our 48 Pet Hospitals care for sick and injured pets – saving lives, and keeping pets happy and healthy. Pets are part of the family.What happens if I take my dog to the vet and I can't pay? ›
If you can't afford what you owe, your vet can send your outstanding payments to a collection agency, however, “which can negatively affect your credit,” Dr. Bonk said. “They can also refuse services to you the next time you need them or until payment is received.”
9.26 Although veterinary surgeons do have a right in law to hold an animal until outstanding fees are paid, the RCVS believes that it is not in the interests of the animal so to do, and can lead to the practice incurring additional costs which may not be recoverable.Are vet bills cheaper for cats? ›
While on average, routine annual veterinary care might cost between $200 to $400 for dogs and $90 to $200 for cats, unplanned events such as accidents, injuries, or unanticipated ailments can cost a variable amount more.How to get free pet stuff? ›
Sign up for pet store reward programs for dog food free.
Petco Pals Rewards. PetSmart Treats. Pet Supply Plus. Tractor Supply Neighbor's Club.
Key Takeaways. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits only cover food for human household members and cannot be used to purchase pet food. Although SNAP doesn't cover cat and dog food, there are many other resources available to help pet owners in need.Can I feed homeless cat? ›
It's great that you want to help stray cats in your area! Since there is an overpopulation of street animals and not enough food for them all, many stray cats are underweight and sick. By giving them a regular supply of appropriate food, you can help keep them healthy.What to do if your cat needs to see a vet but you have no money? ›
The Feline Veterinary Emergency Assistance Program is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that provides financial assistance to cat and kitten guardians who are unable to afford veterinary services to save their companions when life-threatening illness or injury strikes.What happens if you don't have money to take your cat to the vet? ›
If your pet needs services that are beyond your financial means and you have exhausted all options, speak with your veterinarian. They may have a pet fund available. Hospitals have created these funds to help owners experiencing financial difficulty.What happens when you take a stray cat to the vet? ›
For feral or stray cats that may not be familiar with cat carriers, your veterinarian may ask you bring them in a trap. “At the vet, the cat should receive basic vaccinations and be spayed or neutered if she or he isn't already,” Phillips says.Do vets have to treat stray cats? ›
Vets have a duty of care to treat sick and injured animals and will help an injured stray cat at no cost to the finder.What happens if I don't take my kitten to the vet? ›
Finally, and especially if you have an outdoor cat, annual checkups give you an opportunity to keep your cat up-to-date on their vaccinations. Without these, your kitty may contract a fatal virus like feline leukemia, FIV, or rabies and spread it throughout your community.
As with people, how often your cat should have a physical examination depends on their age, lifestyle, and overall health. We usually recommend annual wellness exams for healthy adult cats, but kittens, senior cats, and kitties with underlying health issues should see their vet more frequently.Why do vets charge so much? ›
Salaries. It takes a lot of people to provide health care for pets. Pet owners see the receptionists, veterinary technicians, and veterinarians, but they may not see the multitude of animal care personnel who work diligently cleaning kennels, feeding patients, walking dogs, mopping floors, and washing bath towels.