What to Do When You Can't Afford to Take Care of a Sick Pet

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Not many things feel so overwhelming as knowing your furry one is sick and you can't afford to pay the vet bills. The good news is there are plenty of options available if your budget is tight. Some will require some leg work and maybe some research on your part. Or you might have to tighten your finances so you can free up funds in order to pay the bills. In the end, though, the important thing is that you'll be helping Rover get better.

Discuss Options With the Vet

  • If the vet suggests surgery but you can't afford to pay thousands of dollars for the procedure, speak up. It could be surgery is the best option but not the only one. You might be able to treat your pet with antibiotics or another form of less-expensive therapy. If you've been working with your vet for a while, he might be willing to set up a payment plan. Or he might accept a postdated check if there's a chance you can come up with the money later. The most important thing is, don't shy from the conversation. You won't know your options until you talk about them.

Raise the Money

  • Care Credit is an emergency line of credit created especially for anything to do with health. That includes medical expenses for you as well as veterinary assistance. To get accepted, you need to go through a basic credit card application, then can repay the loan in monthly installments. You can also try fund-raising through your local church or community center, especially if you have ties to the group.

Search for Assistance

  • A number of organizations around the country -- such as the Pet Fund and the Shakespeare Animal Fund -- offer financial assistant to cover emergency or high-end procedures, such as cancer treatment or major surgeries. Keep in mind that these organizations can't accept every single applicant or they might not cover 100 percent of the cost. Some organizations only help with certain issues. For example, the Big Hearts Fund was created to help pets with heart disease, while Brown Dog Foundation helps cover the cost of prescription medications for pets, but not surgeries or other forms of treatment.

Look for Alternatives

  • While your local Humane Society might not treat your pet for free, they do sometimes offer low-cost options for certain procedures. Even if you don't qualify, they might be able to refer you to another organization or to a vet willing to treat your pet for a reduced rate. Many veterinary schools also run discounted or low-cost clinics -- a particularly helpful option if your pet needs a major procedure or long-term treatment. There are also breed-specific organizations that might provide aid. For example, LabMed helps cash-strapped owners of rescued Labradors.

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