Every pet owner’s worst nightmare is a serious illness or medical emergency and inadequate funds to cover it. With veterinary bills ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars, what’s a caring but cash-strapped owner to do? If paws-ible, don’t panic. Instead, be prepared. Planning ahead for emergency pet expenses is key.
Saving for Pet Emergencies
The easiest first step is to open an “emergency pet expenses” savings account even BEFORE your chosen companion puts one paw inside your home. Decide on a given amount to be set aside – whether daily or weekly – and build it into your budget.
Example: By setting aside only $10 a week, you’ll save $520 a year. Within two years, you’ll have saved enough money to cover most medical procedures. But should your pet need a sudden and more costly procedure, you’re more likely to receive help from others when they know that YOU’RE paying most of the bill.
A second option to mitigate the emergency expenses is purchasing pet insurance. An increasing number of insurance companies now offer specific plans for pets, ranging from the most basic to the most inclusive with monthly premiums to match each plan.
If you’re planning on adopting a pet, research what some organizations can provide for you in terms of assisting with emergency pet expenses. Kennel to Couch (K2C), a Pit Bull advocacy organization out of Maryland provides a Pibble Package to all who adopt a K2C sponsored Pit Bull. The package is free with the adoption and includes a discount on purchasing an Embrace Pet Insurance discount.
Embrace Pet Insurance is a top-rated health insurance company for dogs and cats in the US, offering one comprehensive accident and illness plan. Embrace also offers Wellness Rewards, an optional preventative care product that reimburses for routine visits, grooming, and much more with no itemized limitations
Caution: Make certain to “read the fine print” and to learn whether or not your insurance company will work with the vet of your choice.
For those unable to either save in advance or purchase pet insurance, being faced with the possibility of a medical bill they can’t pay is devastating. And this, sadly, is one of the reasons so many much-loved pets are euthanized. But there are solutions.
- Speak with your vet and discuss the arrangement of a payment schedule until the bill is paid in full. Many vets do offer payment plans to their regular and trusted clients
- Contact local animal rescue organizations and ask for the names of any low-cost veterinary clinics they might know.
- Many veterinary schools offer medical services at discounted rates, and if you live near a college or university, contact them to see if they have just such a program.
- If it’s feasible, apply for a line of credit from your bank. There are also reputable companies that offer loans to help cover medical emergencies, including those of pets. (Note: Interest is charged in both cases and rates will vary).
- Ask your family members and friends for help.
- Use one of the more popular online fundraising platforms and start your own fundraiser, bearing in mind that the more people you reach in your own social, work and community circles, and the more original you are in drawing attention to your plight, the greater your chances of success.
- Apply for financial assistance from the specific funds, charities and pet assistance organizations across the country. While their organizations’ budgets are limited and their grants small, your chances of getting help increase if you’re disabled, a senior, or a veteran, or are living solely on pensions or on a low, fixed income.
Don’t let an emergency pet expense sneak up on you, be ready to act and make a plan. Better safe than sorry. Paws-Crossed that you won’t need it.
Articles by Nomi Berger. Nomi is the bestselling author of seven novels, one work of non-fiction, two volumes of poetry, and hundreds of articles. She lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with her adopted Maltese, Mini, and has been writing as a volunteer for animal rescue groups in Canada and the U.S.A. since 2013.