What To Do With A Vet Bill You Can't Afford

Going to the veterinarian can be scary not only because you're worried about your pet's health, but also because you're anxious about how much the visit is going to cost. While a routine checkup is around $45 to $55, things like dental cleanings, allergy tests, and surgeries for serious illnesses can run you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

veterinarians caring for a golden retriever
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You'll do anything for your pet, of course, even if it means having to pay high vet bills. However, you aren't sure how you're going to afford them. Don't fret: there are many options you can choose from and pay your vet bill when you can. You don't have to compromise caring for your pet just because you're struggling to pay a bill.

Here are some of the routes you can take to ensure you will be able to afford veterinary care.

Go to a low-cost vet

If your vet is in an expensive part of town, their services are likely to be higher because their backend costs, like rent, are pricier. Instead of going to your regular vet, you can seek out a low-cost vet. You may have to wait a little longer for an appointment or go in for services on a specific day, but your vet bills will end up being lower. Many cities have shelters that provide low-cost or free spay and neuter days, for example, so look for those services near you.

Negotiate with your vet

Your vet may be willing to give you services at a lower cost if you tell them about your financial situation. Also, don't be afraid to ask if there are alternative treatments for your pet that may not cost as much. Sometimes, your vet will tell you the most expensive choice first, but then when asked, they will let you know that you can pursue other treatment methods that are cheaper.

veterinarian holding cute striped kitten
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Ask your vet for payment plans

If you can't afford veterinary care, you can ask your vet if they will let you enroll in payment plans for your vet bills. You can work out a monthly payment that you and the vet agree on, and pay off your bills within a certain amount of time.

Get pet insurance

Pet insurance costs a few hundred dollars per year on average and can save you money when you go to the vet. Coverage varies from provider to provider, but sometimes it will cover routine visits and get you a discount on other services. Before you take your pet in for a major surgery or a more expensive appointment, ask your vet about what type of pet insurance they accept.

Put it on a credit card

Though you don't want to go into debt, putting the vet bills on your credit card may be your only option. Look for a low- or no-interest credit card so that your vet bills don't cost even more in the long run. You should also seek out a card with rewards so that you're getting something back for using it. Perhaps when your card is paid off, you can take your pet to a pet-friendly hotel for a night with all the points you earned.

When you're at the vet, you can also see if there is a card that they recommend. For instance, many vets will suggest CareCredit, which has 0% interest if you pay your bill in full within a certain amount of time. Before going to the vet for your appointment, apply for different credit cards online and get the one with the best deal and least amount of interest.

Man comforting his dog on vet table while veterinarian examines dog
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Take out a loan

Just like a credit card, a low- or no-interest loan can help bail you out when you have high vet bills to pay. Inquire with your bank, or several lending institutions, to see how much you can borrow and at what interest rate. Look for deals where it's 0% if paid in full within a certain amount of time, just like a credit card.

Start a crowdfunding campaign

If you need financial aid for your vet bills, you can seek out the help of your friends and family on crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe and Kickstarter. Make sure that when you ask for money, you include all of the details on the vet bills so your loved ones know where their money is going. Also, note that GoFundMe takes a 2.9% processing fee and 30 cents on every donation. If you reach your goal on Kickstarter, the site takes a 5% fee along with a 3% to 5% payment-processing fee. Alternatively, you could ask people to Venmo or PayPal you donations instead.