22 answers

What Do You Do When You Can't Afford Medical Care for a Pet?

We have an 8 year old dog and I've been paying about 100.00/ month in care for her (pet insurance, food, medications). Her conditions, though not life threatening, are now at a point where they need to be addressed before they begin to really affect quality of life. (She has a benign tumor on her rectum, she needs a tooth pulled, and she has a bad hip). We have some some complicated and pressing financial matters ourselves where 100% of our financial resources are spoken for for the next 3-4 months.

Her conditions need to be addressed in the next 2-3 months (3 months max). I've looked at our budget, shifted some things around, but it doesn't even make a dent in the cost (even with the discount from the pet insurance on the surgeries). I've cut things out like: dry cleaning (will just launder and iron at home), 50.00 from our grocery bill (going to have to clip more coupons!), and negotiated 30/mo off our cable bill, but still doesn't come close.

Anyways, I'm not really looking for financial advice here since our situation is more complicated than I can begin to explain. What I really want to know is--what would you do, what have you done, what do you do when you are faced with the dilemma of pressing family financial needs and the needs of a beloved pet?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

You have all been so tremendously helpful and kind. I will reach out to the resources you provided and take comfort in the fact that I, as a pet owner, am not alone in this struggle. I am so encouraged by your well wishes and empathy. Thank you, thank you.

Featured Answers

My 10 yr old boxer has been slowly 'acting his age.' He has a little bit of a limp - I think hip issues - and he has a small tumor on his back. I cannot afford to take care of either issue with such an old dog, that we are just kind of waiting for him to show signs of pain. When that happens, we will put him down. It's very sad to think about, but I cannot justify taking a few thousand dollars away from my family (we're on one income) to help my dog live another 1-2 years. The way I see it, he's lived a good life. He is my baby, but when it's his time it's his time.

2 moms found this helpful

I've never taken my pets to a Vet only for spayed and neuter and rabies shots... other than that, I dont take them, way too expensive for us. i did call a vet office and asked for advice a couple of times. if they get cut, its usually peroxide and anti-biotic cream. so far my animals have passed on from old age.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

I am a LVT, and our clinic has compiled a list of organizations that aid people in your situation. I do not know the inner workings of each group, so I do not know how each one functions, but they are worth contacting to find out more. That list is below. Most clinics also accept care credit, which is an indepenent company offering credit for health care with no interest for up to a year. Good luck!!!!

AAHA Helping Pets Fund: http://www.aahahelpingpets.org

Angels 4 Animals: http://www.angelsforanimals.org

Animal Cancer therapy Subsidization Society: http://www.actss.ca

Their website has not been completed however they are a registered Charity in Alberta Canada that is devoted to making cancer treatment for pets a reality. Their fund is The

Lucky Moffat Memorial Fund. Their telephone number is: ###-###-####

The Assistance Dog United Campaign: http://www.assistancedogunitedcampaign.org

Canine Cancer Awareness Organization: http://www.caninecancerawareness.org

Cody’s Club: http://www.dogdoggiedog.com/pwcAcodysclub.htm

Handicapped Pet Help Fund: http://www.handicappedpets.com/Articles/help

Help-A-Pet: http://www.help-a-pet.org

iGive.com: http://smtp.igive.com/welcome/warmwelcome.cfm?c=36665

“In Memory of Magic”: http://www.imom.org/

Kitsap Humane Society for low cost spays and neuters: http://www.kitsaphumane.org/lowcostfix.php

The Magic Bullet Fund: http://www.themagicbulletfund.org/VetsTreatingFundDogs.html

OSLF fund for Orthopedic Cases: http://www.oslf.org/petsneed.htm

Progressive Animal Welfare Society: http://www.paws.org/

R.U.F.F.-Rescuing Unwanted Furry Friends - http://www.911ruff.org/

The Pet Fund: http://www.thepetfund.com/

United Animal Nations Lifeline: http://www.uan.org/index.cfm?navId=163

14 moms found this helpful

if you have good credit, look into care credit. many times, you can get 12-24 months with zero interest. also, if you have a long term and good relationship with your vet, ask him/her about a payment plan. be honest about your finances, and also about the fact that you are concerned about the quality of life of your pup - vets don't like to see animals go without care either and many are willing to work with their clients. good luck, i KNOW that's a tough one!

5 moms found this helpful

My husband and I have lived on the combined income of one schoolteacher for our whole married lives so we can do the worthwhile work we love. There are medical procedures that I have put off for over 20 years for myself because I can't afford them (we have expensive health insurance, but it eats up available funds and won't pay for anything until I've topped $7000 out-of-pocket per year).

So, we have had pets over our 30 years together: several feral cats that I've tamed, a couple of goats, parakeets and tropical fish. With each animal, I consider at the start the simple reality that vet care will be only what I can afford: vaccinations, stitching up wounds or very minor surgery. I ask myself whether I can give this animal a good and happy life within those constraints, and recognize that when the animal begins accumulating "old-age" problems I will probably not be able to accomodate them and will more than likely have to have them euthanized.

The creatures we've adopted enjoy their lives with us, experience what would be a long life-span compared to life in the wild, and die a relatively peaceful death. I love my pets dearly and am grateful for the ways they enrich my life, and I believe I enrich theirs, as well.

And I recognize that they are not particularly troubled by thoughts of death the way people are. They live, they enjoy life, they die. And they all live on in my memory.

4 moms found this helpful

Have you looked into or tried to apply for care credit? It works for vet bills too and when I worked at a vet's we had many clients that used it for unexpected and/or large expenses. I believe it usually is zero interest for several months too. Also talk to your vet about payment plans if you haven't already, many will work with clients when possible. especially if they know you well. I agree the tumor and tooth probably need to go and in the long run it is probably cheaper to do both at once since she will be under anesthesia. Depending on how bad her hip is talk to your vet about different medication options, some may be over the counter or cheaper if you buy a larger quantity at one time, or a bigger pill and split it if she is on joint meds. Sometimes the foods with glucosamine can really help too. That is really hard especially when you have the pet insurance already and it only covers so much.

Sorry I can't offer much more advice. I hope everything works out. We had lots of vet bills right around Christmas for our dog, so I know how you feel.

4 moms found this helpful

I'm sorry-I can totally relate.

I'll just throw some ideas out there as food for thought.

1-Care Credit. It's a credit card that many vets accept that is specific to vet care, (and some other people care as well)
2.-Check Craigslist-you might be surprised to find some vet that is willing to help for a reduced cost
3.-Talk to your local humane society-often they have plans to help or can suggest willing vets
4.-Talk to your own vet-they may be willing to reduce their cost, pay over time, etc.

Basically I would approach it the same way you would if it was a human family member. Often vets will close the gap a bit on $$ especially since some of it they can bill to the insurance company.

3 moms found this helpful

If there is a vetrinary school near you, you might see if they can help you while a student gets experience. Also, talk to your current vet and see what is the most conservative care she needs. She's 8, so somethings may be out or not the only option because of her age anyway. Surgeries are harder on dogs as they get older. You also might ask a local rescue group if they know of any resources. Funds are spread thin, but this is such a common situation for people these days, they should understand and point you to resources if any are available.
All the Best!

3 moms found this helpful

What we did was signed up for Care Credit.
www.carecredit.com
It's basically a credit card designed for healthcare (pets, too), and it allows you to defer payments for 3mos, interest free. (or you can pay whatever you can in that timeframe, again, no interest)

Interest kicks in after that like a normal credit card.

Might be a good fit if you can free up some $$ after the 3 month mark.

In our case, we put our cat down, as cost of care and rehab would've been astronomical (think...manually feeding through a tube daily...)
But it still cost us $900 with diagnosis and euthanasia. :(

3 moms found this helpful

Sorry to hear you are in this situation, it is hard. The best case I can think of is if you could find a vet who would let you defer payment or make a payment plan for these surgeries.
if that is not a possibility, than just keep her as comfortable as you can until her quality of life is so bad that she need to be put down :( not fun.
your family obviously needs to come first, and she is a pet.
I hope things work out for the best!

3 moms found this helpful

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