Less than 0.5% of the 140 million cats and dogs in the United States have pet insurance. For the majority of pet parents, absorbing a large vet bill can pose challenges. While it may not always be possible to avoid the cost, these seven options can help you at least identify ways to keep costs under control.
1. Sign up for a Discount Plan
Pet Assure can help reduce future vet bills. You pay an upfront fee of $99 per year and get a 25% discount for all vet services. The only catch is that you have to go to a veterinary clinic in their network so you’d need to check whether your regular veterinarian is in the network. Key questions to ask before signing up include “Do they include procedures done by another hospital that your vet recommended but that isn’t in their system?” and “Are drug costs included?”
2. Negotiate with Your Vet
Most veterinarians are sympathetic to financial concerns and may offer you a discount or payment plan, especially if you’re a long-term client. Ask them what they can do for you, you might be surprised at the response.
3. Call Pet Charities
The AAHA Helping Pets Foundation, for example, helps pet parents experiencing financial hardship get access to funds for veterinary care. There are sometimes limits on how much care you can get, usually several hundred dollars in any given year.
4. Use Online Vet Pharmacies
If your main costs are going to come from future drug expenses (for example, insulin shots), you may be better off using an online pharmacy for ongoing prescriptions.
To make the most of this option, ask your veterinarian for two prescriptions – the first for a couple of week’s worth of medicine and the other for the remaining time. Fill the short-term script with the vet so you can start the prescription right away and fill the longer term one online to minimize your costs. Your vet might not like it but you are the one paying the costs.
5. Arrange for Credit
Care Credit is kind of like a credit card just for medical treatments and they offer some very flexible payment plans with generous repayment conditions, often much better than a credit card. You must have a satisfactory credit score to be approved and your veterinarian must accept Care Credit (most do).
6. Explore Advanced Surgical Options
Funnily enough, sometimes advanced surgery can be cheaper overall than traditional. For example, the Society of Endovascular Veterinary Surgery is pioneering non-invasive surgery options for veterinary health problems such as liver shunts, collapsing tracheas, and uncontrollable nosebleeds. One benefit of this surgery is that it is less expensive (less rehab required, less recovery time, etc) so you might be able to find a veterinarian in your area who has been trained to perform this surgery – contact the Society to find out.
7. Visit Nearby Veterinary Teaching Facilities
If you have a university nearby with a veterinary school they might be able to get help for much less than you would have to pay otherwise and at very high quality because interns receive supervised training while caring for your pet. For a full list of veterinary schools in the United States check the.
We hope you can use these and other creative ways to get the best veterinary care for your pet without breaking the bank.