The costs of caring for your four-legged family members can add up quickly. In addition to her food, your pet will need an annual exam, vaccines to prevent infectious diseases, and monthly parasite prevention. And, on top of those regular expenses, at some point in your pet’s long, happy life, she may get ill or injured and need a trip to the animal emergency hospital.
According to claims data from Petplan, the pet health insurance company, a pet owner is presented with a $1,000 or higher veterinary medical bill every six seconds. When your pet is facing a life-threatening illness or injury, you do not want to think about your finances, but if you cannot pay for your pet’s care, her life could be in danger.
At the Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center, we don’t want you to ever have to consider humane euthanasia for a pet because you cannot afford the treatment she needs, so we’ve compiled the following eight ways to help pay for unexpected veterinary medical costs.
#1: Pet savings account
From the moment your new four-legged family member joins your household, or before you bring her home, you should be considering her future expenses, including unexpected medical costs. The best way is determining all her possible monthly expenses and adding them to the family budget. For a pet medical emergency, set money aside each month in a special account, which is free, easy, and could earn monthly interest. Ask your bank to transfer a specific amount of money each month into the account, and before long you will have funds ready for an emergency.
#2: Personal loan
When you’re faced with an intimidating estimate for your pet’s medical care, time may be of the essence. If you cannot afford the treatment, this may be the time to call on family and close friends who would consider lending you the money, perhaps interest-free.
CareCredit is a health care financing credit card that can be used for human or veterinary medical care. As with any credit card, your application will be subject to approval, which will be based on your credit score. Once you qualify for CareCredit, you can charge your veterinary bills and pay them back over time. CareCredit is interest-free if you pay your debt in the specified promotional timeline, which can vary; however, as with other credit cards, failure to pay off the debt in the specified time will result in penalty charges. You can apply for CareCredit here.
#4: Wells Fargo Health Advantage credit card
Like CareCredit, Well Fargo’s Health Advantage credit card program helps people pay medical bills, including their pets’. This credit card is akin to a revolving line of credit that can be used over and over, so long as the balance stays under your spending limit. The interest rate is competitive, and if you’re a current Wells Fargo customer, enrollment is free.
Scratchpay is an online payment program for veterinary bills that your veterinarian’s office must be set up to use. Scratchpay pays the full amount of your veterinary expenses directly to the veterinarian, and then you are responsible for making monthly payments to Scratchpay. You pay no interest if you pay your bill in 90 days, or you can choose a one- or two-year payment plan that includes interest in the monthly payments. Scratchpay’s application approval rating is higher than CareCredit’s, and they do not charge penalties for deferred interest or early debt payoff. You can apply online here.
#6: Pet health insurance
Pet health insurance is similar to human health insurance. A variety of plans offered by a variety of companies allow you to pay a monthly premium, and then reimburse your pet’s medical expenses, after you have reached your deductible and made co-payments. Read last week’s blog post here to learn more details about pet health insurance.
#7: Charitable organizations
If you are faced with an estimate that you can’t afford and you have time to reach out for help, some charitable organizations will help pets and pet owners in time of need. Search for assistance by state on this helpful page set up by the Humane Society of the United States.
#8: Veterinary schools
Many veterinary schools run low-cost clinics for pet owners with limited income. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has compiled a list of accredited U.S. veterinary schools, which you can find here.
The responsibility of pet ownership includes planning carefully for both routine and unexpected medical care. That said, we understand that quality veterinary care can be expensive, but many options are available, and we will help you develop a financial plan that’s best for your family—
both two- and four-legged members—and give you peace of mind that you’ll be able to handle any pet emergency.