Your dog is seriously unwell, you do not have Pet Insurance and have just been told that for your dog to live he needs an operation. You do not have that kind of income what can you do? This was something that happened to us when a much loved family dog had become ill for the second time with the same condition and therefore Pet Insurance funding was not an option. We subsequently went through a lot of worry. I did a fair amount of research and would like to give you some degree of comfort by offering how you can find help paying the vet bills when you can’t afford to do so.
My Dog Is Sick & I Can’t Afford A Vet – What Can I Do
It is possibly a pet owners worst nightmare and was indeed mine when my previous Westie (Bonnie) had an ongoing lung condition which had been precluded from the Pet Insurance policy as it was ongoing. She now required a specialist Vet for ongoing treatment which included an MRI, regular consultations and medication. She was only 6 and without help was given a short life prognosis.
Her Vet bills would be minimally £1800 together with her medication of £250pm and plus monthly consultation fees.
So the first conversation I had was with the vet about moral ethics of keeping a sick dog alive. This is a real conversation that needs to be asked and make the decision when is it wrong to prolong the life of a sick dog. I have written a post about this very subject and you may find it a whorthwile read.
First & Second Conversation Is With The Vet
Lets assume you have had the “first conversation” and all agree the way forward is continual support and or surgery. But you don’t have funds, what can you do?
In my experience most vets, even specialists understand the money dilemma and many will be in a position to offer support. Many of us have witnessed the kindness and compassion of Vets on television, (like Yorkshire vet and Super Vet Kilpatrick’s) many have funds and or charities and sponsors who will help pet owners. You need to have this conversation to see if funding is possible. Some vets will allow you to pay by instalments, however do check if this option is taken that there is not an additional cost for spreading the load.
Certainly you need to make it clear it is not an insurance claim as the rates will usually be different.
You have been given the best price of ongoing veterinary care and still its more than you can afford. This happened to me and I will share a little later what I did to resolve.
First Stop – Animal Charities
PDSA- In the UK we are fortunate to have the brilliant and wonderful PDSA which in addition to the charity it also offers a Vet Care Service. You may be eligible. Eligibility is usual if you are in receipt of means tested support for example assistance with Rent, Council Tax, Housing or Council tax reduction. But if you are not in receipt of the above it is still worth checking as there are other criteria which maybe you are able to fulfil
To check if you are eligible click on the link below
RSPCA have a veterinary care service which is dedicated to helping all types of sick animals. They have Hospitals/clinics around the UK. Their sole purpose is to help pets and their owners, in particular owners who struggle financially
click on the link below for further information
Blue Cross Veterinary Services Is another worthy charity, this charity like the PDSA and RSPCA are there to help owners who are unable to afford vet bills. Whilst the locations of clinics are fewer they do offer a caring and viable option if one is located near you.
Click on the link for further information
You may also find additional support by way of local charities. Try Googling local vet charities you may well be in luck. The Dogs Trust is another possible option.
There is possibly another alternative which you may not have been aware of and that is a phone line for pets. CalledVet Fone, they are similar to NHS phone line and whilst they may not offer funding they will be able to offer sound advice and support.
Click Vet Phone for additional information they are available 24/7 for pet advice.
What If That Doesn’t Help
Sometimes the charities are only able to offer basic ongoing treatment and therefore specialist care may not be available for funding and as such you may need to look elsewhere.
In the first instance you could consider looking at taking the initial cost onto a credit card, this may give you some leeway until you are able to come up with funding.
Your next action is to look at long term funding, this is only once you have considered all the moral ethical implications.
What I Did When Faced With This Dilemma
Bonnie had been referred to the specialist Dog Heart and Lung Vet in Surrey, the outlook was poor if we did nothing, it was better if we did something but no guarantees. We were given a prognosis of extending her life by a potential 18 months if we went down the MRI, Blood tests and medication route but we knew it was going to be thousands and not a guarantee. We did not have the money to pay the vet outright.
We talked to family, they rallied and came up with £800, we spoke to the vet and he agreed to instalments, we paid the vet £1500 up front, we used the family £800 and we then borrowed the remaining £700 on a credit card.
This was a short term fix for a long term problem, next we spoke to our Bank and they offered either a second charge on our mortgage or a complete re-mortgage, for an additional £5000 the second charge £19 to our monthly mortgage which we were easily able to afford. However if we re-mortgaged we were able to find a better mortgage deal and it increased our costs by just an additional £8 per month. This seemed like a no-brainer
We decided on the latter, we completed the forms and waited. It took 15 weeks. We were able to pay my family the £800 and the credit card company. The additional monthly costs from the vet were £230 which we continued to fund from the re-mortgage.
Bonnie finally left us when she was eight and half years old her lung and heart finally gave out, she lived a further two and half years of which only the last 8 weeks were in degenerative state the previous 2 years she had lived a fulfilled life, whilst being a little slow.
Re-Cap & Conclusion
I started this blog post with the title “Help Paying Vet Bills”, what can you do when you can’t afford to pay. First thing try not to panic, There are several options and I hope the list below will help find an answer. I have listed in the order you may wish to consider.
- Talk to your Vet about funding options
- Talk to your vet about instalment options
- Discuss with your family and Vet the ethical and moral implications
- Talk to Animal charities like :
- BLUE CROSS
- DOG TRUST
- Talk to family and or friends about financial support and or loans
- Credit Card for short term cover
- Equity in your property or stocks and shares
- Bank Loan
Pet insurance is the best way to keep on top of your pets well-being, however there are times when dog is not insurable (for instance old age or pre-existing condition) at this point it maybe worth considering setting an amount aside each month in a savings plan. For example, Dolly my current Westie is 13 years of age, she has never been ill except for one time in April, but because of this together with her age the monthly direct debit has shot up to £65 per month. We have made the decision to cancel our Pet Insurance but pay £45 into a savings account instead, this is set aside just for Dolly’s possible vet fees. In the event we (hopefully) don’t use then we will be quids in. She is a healthy dog although an old lady, we did however weigh up the costs of Pet Insurance or Savings and took the latter.
Thank you for reading my blog, I would love to hear your comments, if it has helped or indeed if you have any other options which I have not considered. Your comments will be of value to others
Cordelia & Dolly