Free veterinary care and help with vet bills.
Find how low-income families can get free veterinary care or money to pay for the care of a pet. Some of the programs will provide grants, free check ups or medications for the pet, as well as other forms of assistance. Get details on free veterinary programs near you for low-income families.
When a pet becomes ill or is injured, owners with limited income or no money often face the difficult choice between seeking vet care or having the pet euthanized because the pet owner cannot afford the needed treatment. While the cost of care is very reasonable when you compare it with the much higher cost of human health care, an unexpected medical emergency or bill for your pet may very well present a major financial hardship. A number of charities, non-profits and volunteer vets offer free services to the low income, homeless, elderly or disabled among others.
Find free vet care
There are a variety of options that low-income or struggling pet owners can pursue to obtain discounted or free veterinary care for routine and emergency situations near you. These include veterinary schools, non-profit organizations that provide grants and other financial aid, and crowdfunding platforms such as Waggle. Pet insurance and credit cards specifically intended for vet care can also help to ease the financial burden.
Many vets offer free or low-cost initial exams and reduced fees for spaying, neutering, and other routine care. This will generally be for the first visit only, as the veterinary will generally want to try to build a future business relationship with the per owner. Shop around and check vet websites for specials and discounts.
If you already have a vet, you may be able to negotiate a weekly or monthly payment plan for more costly procedures. Explain your specific circumstances and ask if the quoted price is the best they can offer.
Get free referrals or veterinarian care from the Humane Society near you or a local shelter. If you're looking for routine services such as vaccinations, spaying, or neutering, most organizations have referrals for more basic care. Check with your local Humane Society office or rescue shelters, the SPCA and animal welfare organizations. They may either provide low-cost vet care or they can refer you to vets offering affordable care. Call 202-452-1100 or locate details on Humane Society resources.
- If you have a specific type or breed of dog, contact the National Club for that breed. In some cases, these clubs offer a veterinary financial assistance fund that you can use to help pay your vet bills. Additionally, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has a list of breed-specific assistance groups.
- For an animal shelter near you that will often have information on free veterinary care assistance programs, use petfinder.com.
Locate a vet who is aligned with the Veterinary Care Charitable Fund. The fund allows participating animal hospitals to offer low or free services to clients with financial hardships. It also covers care costs for animals that have been injured or rescued from abuse or neglect. Among those served by the fund are low-income seniors, victims of domestic violence, and disabled veterans who require a service dog. Find details here. https://www.avmf.org/.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) arranges financial help and free grants to pay for veterinary bills. The non-profit also maintains a roster of state veterinarian medical associations that may have funds near you available to subsidize emergency pet care. There is also a list of free vets for the low-income on the site. To review the list, go to https://www.avma.org/about/state-vmas.
Many state universities operate veterinary schools that provide free or high-quality vet care at a lower cost than private vet clinics and animal hospitals. Many veterinarian schools maintain relationships with nonprofit foundations that provide funds to help low-income pet owners. Residents, interns, and fourth-year vet students provide care and are supervised by licensed vets.
There are accredited veterinary colleges in most states. You can locate the school nearest you by reviewing the list at https://www.avma.org/education/center-for-veterinary-accreditation/accredited-veterinary-colleges.
An owner can purchase a pet health insurance policy, which can help pay for a portion of any medical bill. Pet insurance is very much like insurance for humans. It protects pets against illnesses and accidents. Some companies cover routine/wellness care as well as burial. Some insurance policies will also pay out if the pet dies. Learn about pet insurance.
Help paying veterinary bills from Charitable Pet Foundations
Numerous charitable organizations provide free vet care. The non-profit exist throughout the country and will more than likely be near you. The agencies have the sole purpose to provide funds to low-income pet owners. A little work completing the application process can result in obtaining needed funds to help a pet receive critical care. The following are just a few examples.
There is financial assistance from the American Animal Hospital Association Helping Pets Fund. The charity will be for existing vet bills, including emergency care or surgery. Ask your veterinarian to complete and submit an assistance request to the American Animal Hospital Association's (AAHA) "Helping Pets Fund." In order to qualify for this fund, which can help with paying your pet bills, your animal hospital must be AAHA accredited. You can learn more about the program here, on Helping Pets Fund.
- Frankie's Friends (frankiesfriends.org), a non-profit foundation created in 1999, is dedicated to finding cures and saving pets with cancer and other serious conditions. Dogs, cats or other pets must need life-saving or life-enhancing emergency or specialty care. Funds are not available for initial exams, diagnostic testing, or preventative care. The organization helps to fund care for more than 17,000 animals nationwide each year. Families must demonstrate financial need. Pets must have a prognosis to return to a good quality of life.
- Red Rover (redrover.org) provides urgent care free emergency grants to people with pets in life-threatening situations. The average grant is about $250. Household income cannot exceed $60,000 annually. The pet must have a current diagnosis and treatment plan for a condition that requires urgent, specific treatment and a prognosis for a good outcome. Red Rover does not provide funds for routine care, completed treatments, or treating ongoing conditions such as diabetes.
- The Pet Fund (thepetfund.com) is a nonprofit that provides financial assistance to pet owners across the country. Funds are only provided for non-basic, non-urgent care. This includes treatment for cancer, heart disease, eye diseases, and other chronic conditions. Eligible pet owners must reside in the U.S. and can apply for a one-time grant.
- For the Love of Alex (FTLOA), founded in 2013, is a small nonprofit that provides funds to low-income pet owners with pets facing life-threatening situations or in need of emergency treatment. Funds are paid directly to treating vets. FTLOA does not fund routine care such as vaccinations. Pet owners must complete a pre-application process. For more information, go to fortheloveofalex.org.
- Many regional and local foundations offer financial assistance to pet owners. For example, the nonprofit Animal Health Foundation, founded in 1967, focuses on pet owners in Los Angeles and Orange County, California. Animal hospitals that are members of the local veterinary medical association can receive up to $1000 to help a family pay for vet services. Or try regional charities such as Paws.org, Bestfriends, and others will help put owners into contact with sources of funds for paying all sort of veterinary expenses. Other options include:
- Help-A-Pet. Dial 630-986-9504
- The Pet Fund, phone is (916) 443-6007
- Feline Outreach. The contact information is email@example.com
- Angels for Animals. Dial 330-549-1111
- Brown Dog Foundation. Contact information is firstname.lastname@example.org
- Feline Veterinary Emergency Assistance Progra. For details, email email@example.com
- Cats In Crisis - Contact is firstname.lastname@example.org
Be sure to keep in mind that each of these organizations is independent in nature and they have their own set of guidelines and rules. Therefore you will need to investigate each one separately to determine if you qualify for assistance with your vet bills.
Free money to pay vet bills from free Waggle
Crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe, Kickstarter, and Indiegogo have proven to be important and reliable sources for persons needing funds for business, social and charitable purposes. Waggle (waggle.org) is a nonprofit crowdfunding platform that helps people obtain money to pay for veterinary services, making the care free. The non-profit is dedicated solely to raising funds to help pets in medical crises.
The goal of the people behind Waggle is to ensure that no pet is ever euthanized for financial reasons. Waggle works directly with vets to ensure that 100% of the funds raised go directly to a pet's needed care. Pet owners simply need to create an account and start a campaign by answering routine questions and providing compelling photos of the pet.
Waggle certifies a treatment cost estimate with the vet and posts the fundraising campaign on its site. Pet owners can then share a link to the campaign site with family and friends via social media and email. Once treatment has been provided, the vet sends Waggle the invoice, and payment is made directly to the animal hospital.
Waggle also partners with celebrities, nonprofits, and social influencers. As these partnerships typically involve pet lovers, they often result in sponsorships or matching grants that may substantially or fully cover pet care costs.
Additional assistance programs
Cash back websites can serve as a form of financial help. Save money on vet bills, or get you can save 5-20% (or more) on medications (such as Heart Worm pills or Frontline) as well as other forms of pet supplies. There are many other dog or cat medical supplies or equipment available that can help pet owners save money. Cash back will be offered for shopping at online cash rebate sites.
Look into payment plans or veterinary financing. They can be effective to save money or get vet care at a lower cost. You need to ask your veterinarian if she or he will provide you with a payment plan. Many veterinarians are willing to work out a monthly or weekly payment program. Or they will offer other discounts. These plans will give you the option of not having to pay the entire cost of your veterinary bill up front.
Free pet food is often available from a number of charities, vets, shelters with pantries and other locations. This will save a low-income or struggling family money, which can then be applied to pay for a vet if and when needed. Many animal hospitals, or shelters, as well as veterinarians, also give out sample kibble or wet dog or cat food when needed, and locate free dog or cat food for the low income.
CareCredit is an option. For pet owners of any income level, the CareCredit credit card may be a useful resource to obtain vet care. The card can be used to obtain health care for both pets and their human owners. More than 250,000 providers accept the card. Unlike most credit cards, CareCredit offers a variety of beneficial financing options, low-cost.
For purchases exceeding $200, CareCredit offers no-interest payment plans for up to 24 months as long as minimum payments are regularly made. For veterinarian bills of $1,000 or more, long-term financing up to 60 months is also available with reduced interest rates. CareCredit can be used to obtain routine vet services such as vaccines, teeth cleaning, and checkups as well as surgery, spaying, neutering, and emergency services. Unlike other forms of pet care financing, CareCredit can be used repeatedly to obtain vet services when needed. More on CareCredit card.
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