When You Can’t Afford Veterinary Care
Many Americans are juggling one too many bills already. When a pet becomes ill or is injured, some pet owners are forced to cut corners or hold off on care. We always hate to see a pet parent be forced to make that difficult decision.
The good news is that there are creative and effective ways to save money and reduce costs while providing stellar care for your fur friend. When that is not enough, here is a list of ways a cash-strapped pet owner might raise funds for larger veterinary costs.
- Choose pet insurance. This doesn’t help if the surgery or treatment is already in motion, but insurance plans for pets can cover the cost of emergencies or other major medical treatments. It is important to really research each company in advance, though, as not all providers are appropriate for you and your pet’s medical needs.
- Get a Credit Line. CareCredit is an online credit provider that finances health and beauty expenses including veterinary medical expenses and pet emergencies. Scratchpay also offers payment plans for pet care and has higher approvals.
- Ask for payment options. Some veterinarians, especially independent or small hospitals who you have a long standing relationship with, will consider payments, depending on the procedure. In most cases, it’s hard for clinics to accommodate this, but it never hurts to ask. Many clinics do have annual wellness plans, which are affordable and allow you to pay monthly for basic care needs, like vaccinations and checkups.
- Consider crowdfunding. With the popularity of social media and sites like Go Fund Me, many people are electing to raise funds to help with veterinary bills, upcoming surgeries, and other necessary procedures. Many friends and family are quick to come to the aid of a loved one, and some will be willing to help your pet. A newer crowdfunding site launched exclusively for helping pet-parents afford their vet bills and avoid economic euthanasia. CoFund My Pet funds can ONLY be spent at veterinary clinics anywhere in the U.S., preventing fraud! Donors can feel more confident to help because of the limitations on how the money can be used.
- Host a group yard sale. Community yard sales are good avenues to get rid of clutter and raise funds. Ask neighbors for clothing, furniture, and other items to sell with proceeds going to your pet’s veterinary needs.
Some suggested questions to ask…
Your veterinarian should be one of your most valued resources to aid you in caring for your pet. A strong relationship with them is important. If you are new to your area or have never owned a pet before, it is vital to find a veterinarian that you feel comfortable with, making you more likely to ask important questions regarding your pet’s care. We suggest calling several veterinarian offices and comparing them.
- How many doctors are currently at your practice?
- Can I request to see a specific one or would I be scheduled with the first available?
- What are your open hours?
- Are visits by appointment only or do you accept walk-ins?
- What are your emergency policies?
- Do your vets see their own emergencies or will I be directed to an emergency clinic?
- What services does your practice offer?
- Do your doctors perform surgeries or would I be referred to another veterinarian?
- Do you have x-ray equipment or the ability to do blood work on-site?
- Do you have an on-site pharmacy or will I have to go elsewhere for prescriptions?
- Will your doctors be willing to refer me to a specialist if needed?
- What do you charge for an office visit?
- Vaccines(suggested dog vaccines include rabies, distemper/parvovirus and kennel cough; for cats- rabies, upper respiratory/distemper and feline leukemia)?
- Heartworm tests and preventative?
- What is your payment policy?
But first, questions from the vet…
During a clinical examination of your pet, your vet will no doubt ask you a range of questions depending on the reason for the visit.
For example, if seeking a diagnosis to an issue with your cat, the vet will probably want to know if the animal has experienced vomiting, diarrhoea, changes to their feeding behaviours (including loss of appetite), thirst changes and increased urination. For example, excessive thirst and increased urination may be a sign of diabetes or kidney failure.
After answering the vet’s questions, you will have the opportunity to ask questions of your own. Regardless of your visit, these are useful questions to know the answers to so you can be well armed to give your fur friend the best life possible.
Tips for Making Your Pet’s First Vet Visit a Success
You’ve picked up their favorite toys, stocked up only the best pet food, and have pet-proofed your home. You’re clearly ready to bring your pet home, but what happens after that? Hopefully the answer is scheduling your pet’s first veterinarian visit. While the first visit can seem daunting, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite tips to make the process as smooth as possible.
Set up a veterinarian visit right away
Even if your pet was checked out by a veterinarian when they were at the shelter — or seems perfectly healthy to you — you’ll still want to make an appointment within the first week or so. Why? Your dog or cat may be due for additional medications to keep them (and you) safe in their new home.
Additionally, no one ever expects an emergency to occur—especially in those first happy moments at home—but establishing a relationship with a local vet early on will give you peace of mind if you find yourself in an emergency situation.
Schedule your visit early
It’s best to schedule your veterinarian visit for the morning, when delays are less likely. And arrive a few minutes early so you can help get your pet settled and fill out any paperwork. If your veterinarian offers patient forms online, fill out any paperwork at home, so your visit goes even more smoothly.
Bring all the proper items with you
There’s a lot you can do to help your pet’s first veterinarian visit run smoothly and get the most out of your time there.
- Bring your adoption papers from the shelter. This will help your veterinarian get to know your pet’s medical history, and which vaccines they’ve already had, or still need.
- Bring a list of any medications or supplements your pet is on, how often they take them, as well as the food you’re feeding them. If it’s easier, just bring the medications with you to the office. You can then explain what each one is and why your pet needs it.
- Prepare your questions ahead of time, even if that means writing them down
Should my pet have tests for hidden diseases? What lab work do you recommend for my pet?
Blood analysis is a vital tool for screening out disease. “Even pets that appear happy and healthy can have hidden medical problems that might grow serious, even life-threatening, if left undetected. Blood tests are essential for identifying diseases at the earliest most treatable stage possible.
“Pets can’t tell us when they’re ill – that’s where lab tests like blood analyses come in.
“Even in young and healthy pets, lab testing gives us a valuable baseline picture of what represents good health for your individual pet. A recommended part of your pet’s annual exam, blood tests can spot health trends sooner, before they become more serious.”
“Standard blood test panels for dogs and cats routinely check for many problems, commonly:
- Complete Blood Cell Count (CBC) provides important information about the types and number of blood cells in your pet’s blood. A low red blood cell count, for example, indicates anemia, while a high white blood cell count can indicate an infection, chronic inflammation or other disease process.
- Blood Chemistry Profile is particularly important for evaluating organ function (e.g., liver, kidneys), electrolytes, blood sugar, screening for presence of an endocrine disorder, etc. Any abnormalities will help us decide on further diagnostic tests or treatments.
- Heartworm Test can detect evidence of heartworm disease. For a more complete picture, we will often combine a blood panel with other tests, such as a urinalysis and fecal examination.”