Need Help With Your Veterinary Bills?
By Pierre Mouchette | Bits-n-Pieces
Routine healthcare for a pet can be expensive. Care prices are much higher when your dog or cat is sick, forcing you to make heartbreaking decisions. Luckily, there are options to help you save money or fund your pet's healthcare needs.
What does the average vet visit cost?
For all the love they give, dogs and cats also need healthcare to keep them wagging and purring. Vaccinations, flea and tick control, and diarrhea are common reasons for seeking veterinary care. A veterinarian visit involving a physical exam or consultation can cost around $50, depending on where you live. That does not count the extras such as lab work or medication.
One of the most common procedures in a pet's life is spaying or neutering surgery, typically costing $100 to $300 at a private veterinarian. However, you may be able to find free or low-cost services at a local ASPCA or nonprofit foundation. PetSmart Charities offers a database of low-cost spay and neuter services. Find a location near you!
According to the ASPCA, the cost of routine veterinarian visits varies, depending on factors such as:
Visits for smaller animals generally cost less than for larger pets.
Like humans, a pet's complex and chronic care costs can add up. Finally, if your pet gets substantially sick or has a condition that causes a lot of pain, you eventually may need to have your dog or cat put to sleep. The procedure can run $50 to $500, with the cost depending on the animal's weight and where you have the humane euthanasia done, among other considerations.
What happens if I cannot pay for my pet's vet bill?
You may be able to pay your veterinarian bill in installments. Speak with your vet to determine if you can negotiate a payment plan. Your veterinarian bill will likely go to a collection agency when overdue. It may not go to collections immediately, but you might face some consequences for your unpaid bill. For example, it may hurt your credit score as you fall further behind in payments.
The following are ways to get help with your pet's expenses.
Visit a low-cost veterinarian school clinic.
Veterinary school clinics may offer lower-priced care options because vets supervise student-led procedures. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA) has a directory throughout several countries. These programs are usually nonprofit and government-funded or supported through donations.
Will pet insurance cover your vet bills?
Many pet insurance policies do not cover preventive care, like grooming, teeth cleaning, and even spay and neutering costs. Wellness and preventive care usually cost extra. But pet insurance might be cost-effective if your pet needs an expensive operation. For example, if your pet needs medical attention to remove an object swallowed, it could cost you more than $3,000, and cancer treatment could cost $9,400 or more.
You might find a discount if you have multiple pets or already have a home or auto policy with a company offering pet insurance. But do not forget to compare pet insurance options and ask yourself if you need it in the first place. Assess your pet's health and search for policies that cover its specific breed and conditions. Ask about exclusions before you sign a contract.
Is pet insurance worth the money?
About seven in ten U.S. households have a pet. The average annual premium for a policy that covers accidents and illness is about $600 for dogs and $340 for cats, the NAPHIA reports. That is about $50 monthly for dogs and $29 for cats. For accident-only coverage, yearly average prices drop to $218 for dogs and $134 for cats. Insurance can save thousands of dollars if your pet needs complex care or emergency procedures. Still, insurance might not be the best option for some pet owners.
Apply for grants from organizations that help with vet bills.
Some organizations and charities can cover or reduce your veterinary expenses. First, check to see if your veterinarian works with such groups. Then, prepare your documents.
To qualify for assistance, groups may ask you to submit:
Look for charities that help with emergency vet bills.
Some are national, and others are for state residents only.
Take preventive action every day.
To maintain your pet's health, monitor their behavior and use preventive measures that may save your pet's life or help you avoid expensive treatments in the future.
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