The last thing you want to hear is that your best friend is sick or even dying. Even worse, your veterinarian is asking for thousands of dollars to treat your dog’s illness, but you can’t afford it or you don’t have pet insurance. However, you still have options. Here are some of the avenues pet parents have to obtain the vet care and treatment their pet needs.
How Can I Help My Sick Dog if I Have No Money?
If you’re like 56% of American pet parents, you can’t afford an unexpected emergency vet visit.³ The comforting news is that nonprofits, veterinary professionals, and interest groups have stepped in to ensure that families aren’t forced to euthanize their pets because they can’t afford treatment.
Ask for a payment plan
Talk with your vet frankly about your economic situation. They may have programs in place to support your family.⁴ Ask them about payment plans available that you can pay by a specific date or time frame.
Your vet’s office manager may request additional documentation such as pay stubs or bank statements before enrollment. Keep in mind that the practice may keep your pet in their care until you pay something for the care you received. Open and honest dialogue is key during this process, so it’s best to be forthright and patient.
Find a free or low-cost clinic
Consider finding a different vet to use and get a second opinion.⁵ There are clinics across the country that are committed to serving families who need affordable veterinary care. If you aren’t caught in an emergency situation, request the medical records and take them to an affordable vet for care. This can be a great option if your pet needs cancer treatment, surgery, or medications.
Look for a veterinary teaching college
Similar to free or low-cost clinics, an accredited teaching college typically offers reduced rates for veterinary care.⁶ Students at the college will be supervised by experienced veterinarians so you can trust your pet is in good hands. These universities usually have access to the necessary equipment and facilities to conduct MRIs and CT scans, surgeries, and other specialized care that your vet may not be able to do.
National Organizations That Provide Financial Assistance to Pet Owners in Need
Euthanasia is not your only option. There are thousands of resources available to families who cannot afford surgery for their dog or cancer treatments. Here are a handful of organizations that can help you avoid choosing economic euthanasia.⁹
Financial and natural disaster assistance
Sometimes, your dog is hurt or sick because of no fault of your own — maybe an accident happened or your home was hit by a hurricane or tornado. Maybe you or someone in your family are simply too old to care for the dog. The following organizations specialize in working with pet parents in crisis.
- Brown Dog Foundation is dedicated to helping families who find themselves in a temporary financial crisis at the same time their pet requires life-saving treatment or life-sustaining medications. They are designed as a one-time benefit. They are committed to maintaining and strengthening the bond between pets and their families during times of unexpected financial crisis.
- The Onyx & Breezy Foundation provides funding for families experiencing financial hardship. Their foundation offers many initiatives, including dog food and supplies.
A cancer diagnosis is heartbreaking, but very common in dogs. Approximately 1 in 4 dogs will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetime with the risk of cancer increasing as a dog ages.10 Reach out to one of these organizations for treatment if you’ve recently been told your dog has cancer.
- Joshua Louis Animal Cancer Foundation was created to assist owners and families of pets who are in need of cancer treatment and provides grants for pets under the care of a board-certified veterinary oncologist.
- Magic Bullet Fund helps people who have made room in their homes and hearts for a canine companion but do not have the financial resources to provide cancer treatment.