As dog parents, it’s our responsibility to provide our dogs with adequate health care. But what happens if you can’t afford regular, preventative veterinary care? Even worse, what can you do if your dog gets sick or injured, and you can’t afford the vet bill?
Unfortunately, that’s the situation that many people face. Maybe you’ve recently lost a job, or your emergency money has gone to unexpected expenses. Maybe, like many Americans, you live paycheck to paycheck and don’t have the funds for your dog’s unexpected emergency surgery. Whatever the reason, it’s a heartbreaking scenario.
This is one of the top reasons that many dogs are surrendered to shelters. Even worse, with a dog that’s sick or injured, sometimes the options are either pay up or euthanize. It’s a devastating decision, one that seems impossible to make.
But maybe it’s a decision you don’t have to make. There are services and financial aid programs in place to help people who can’t afford veterinary costs.
Services range from low cost clinics and hospitals to grant programs. Many will require proof of financial hardship such as tax returns, pay stubs, relevant disability or welfare statements, and the contact information of your veterinarian. Be aware that not all grant programs serve veterinarian emergencies, so apply carefully.
Each organization on the list below has different application guidelines and income requirements.
Do your research to see if you qualify before applying.
National Financial Aid
CareCap: CareCap is a program that works with your veterinarian to develop a payment plan within your budget. Ask your veterinarian if they offer payment plans, and if not, direct them to CareCap’s veterinarian page.
The Pet Fund: The Pet Fund provides grant only for non-urgent care. This means basic care like checkups, vaccinations, dental care, etc., and for non-urgent, non-basic care for chronic conditions like heart and kidney disease. Grants are given directly to the veterinarian.
Red Rover Relief Urgent Care Grants: Red Rover provides “financial assistance, resources and emotional support to pet guardians struggling with economic hardship when pets are in life-threatening situations.” It’s meant to partially fund emergency situations with grants averaging about $200.
Paws 4 A Cure: Paws 4 A Cure is a non-profit agency that helps individuals who cannot afford veterinary care for their pets. They work directly with your veterinarian, and they set up a fundraising page that you are required to share on social media.
The Onyx & Breezy Foundation: The Onyx & Breezy Foundation provides grant to individuals who cannot afford veterinary care as well as non-profits.
Rose’s Fund: Rose’s Fund for Animals provides grants for pets that have a life-threatening illness, injury or condition, but have a good chance of recovering. This excludes cancer.
Brown Dog Foundation: The Brown Dog Foundation was set up to “bridge the gap between the cost of medical care and saving the family pet.” It is targeted to pets with a life-threatening condition or illness that is treatable.
Frankie’s Friends: Frankie’s Friends provides grants for pets that need “lifesaving emergency or specialty veterinary care,” but the family cannot afford the full cost of treatment.
Shakespeare Animal Fund: The Shakespeare Animal Fund helps the “elderly, disabled and those whose total income does not exceed the current poverty guidelines to obtain emergency pet care.” It’s for emergency pet care only for injuries and illnesses.
The Riedel & Cody Fund: The Riedel & Cody Fund is for cancer care only, funding chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
Magic Bullet Fund: The Magic Bullet Fund provides financial assistance for dogs with certain cancers to help fund cancer treatments.
Top Dog Foundation: The Top Dog Foundation funds veterinary care for senior dogs only through their Bentley Vet Care Grants program. They accept applications for dogs that are 10 years or older small breeds and 8 years or older large breeds.
Regional Financial Aid
There are organizations and foundations that only accept applications from a specific region. You can find comprehensive lists through the following links:
The Simple Dollar: The Ultimate Guide to Financial Aid for Pets
Best Friend’s Animal Society: Financial Aid for Pets
The Human Society of the United States: Assistance by state
There are also breed-specific financial aid organizations, and many more organizations that help dogs with specific conditions, such as cancer and heart disease.
If you can’t afford veterinary care, try speaking to your doctor first. They may often offer payment plans that may work within your budget.