Help If You Can’t Afford Your Dog’s Medical Bill

Help If You Can’t Afford Your Dog Medical Bill

What can you do if you simply cannot afford your dog medical bill? The bottom line is this: If your dog has an accident, sudden illness, or is stricken with costly medical treatment, dog parents should never have to stress over how they will afford it.

About 1.4 million pets in the U.S. and Canada were covered by a plan at the end of 2014, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, a trade group. Are you one of them? This dog mom has been an advocate for reputable pet health insurance for years. If you are not among the millions of pet health policy holders, then what? Here are some solutions to helping you afford your dog’s medical bill.

How to afford a dog medical bill

Reach Out to a Non-Profit Group

There are many national and state-specific nonprofit organizations located throughout the United States that might be able to help you with your dog’s medical bill if you can’t afford it. In an article for the American Animal Hospital Association’s blog, Pets Matter, Jen Reeder shares several resources for pet parents. Read each criterion carefully to determine if you qualify.

CLICK THIS: Nonprofit Assistance to Help Your Dog’s Medical Bill

Foundations and Funds

Veterinary bills, diagnostic tests, and treatments can add up quickly, and these resources may be able to help with paying for your dog’s medical bill:

The Brown Dog Foundation

Paws 4 a Cure

The Onyx and Breezy Foundation

Red Rover Relief

The Pet Fund

Rose’s Fund

The Riedel & Cody Fund (animals with cancer)

List of National and State Resources for Assistance with Veterinary Bills

how to afford dog medical bill

Online Funding

I’ve assisted in, started, and successfully executed Go Fund Me and similar online fundraising campaigns to help with a dog’s medical bill. Dog parents fall on hard times or simply may not be prepared for a sudden illness or accident. Here’s a step by step on how to make a Go Fund Me or similar online crowd fundraising program work for you.

  1. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed. We’ve all had hard times in life, and you are not alone. You are doing this in the best interest of your dog and his or her well-being, so keep that in mind.
  2. Follow the instructions carefully within the fundraising platform so that you and your potential donors are crystal clear on expectations and fulfillment. Click This: Go Fund Me for animals and pets. Other crowdfunding sites include Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
  3. Be thoughtful, honest, and tell the true story of why you need the money. The more details you can provide, such as images, veterinary costs (with personal details removed), and the story of your dog in need will help potential donors understand the need.
  4. You might be hoping that strangers will find and donate to your GoFundMe campaign, but the reality is that the majority of funding on GoFundMe comes from personal networks and connections. Reach out to your online friends, co-workers, family members, your various social media connections, and be kind, courteous, and most of all, honest.
  5. Review similar crowdfunding campaigns like yours. Here are a few very successful GoFundMe campaigns that raised a lot of money. Check out the above-noted Animals and Pets section of GoFundMe for similar pet need campaigns to pay your dog’s medical bill.
  6. Reach out to a dog blogger. If you are an ardent follower of a dog blogger (or more than one), be courteous in asking, but reach out and see if they wouldn’t mind sharing your GoFundMe page on any of their social media sites.
  7. Realize that most people do not browse GoFundMe sites. An awful lot of funding campaigns fail because the promotional effort has to be there, too. Promoting your plea is probably the last thing you want to do when your dog’s health and medical bills are on the line, but it is a must in a dire situation. GoFundMe’s search engine won’t even list your plea in their search engine until a certain amount is raised.
  8. Learn tips and tricks for a successful fundraiser with GoFundMe.
  9. Check out the Humane Society of the United States’ article on raising money for your dog’s medical bill or veterinary care.

Quick Cash

The Humane Society says,”If you have a credit card, ask for a limit increase or talk with your bank about loan options. Many veterinarians accept Care Credit, which is a credit card specifically for health care expenses, including your pet’s. Care Credit offers multiple payment options that may help you through your pet’s crisis. You can find out more information about Care Credit and fill out an application on their website. Consumers should take care to understand the terms of any credit they accept.”

Dog playing ball indoors

Stash the Cash: Pre-Planning for Your Dog Medical Bill

One of the best ways to prevent a financial hardship with regards to veterinary medical care and how to afford your dog’s medical bill is to pre-plan. Here are a few ways to pre-plan:

Consider Dog Health Insurance: We have dog veterinary insurance and swear by it. Not all plans are created equal, and you must read the fine print. Ask questions, get an estimate, and check out our article on the topic below. Bottom line: Do not wait until your dog is diagnosed with a medical problem to apply, as the medical issue(s) won’t be covered at that time. Most plans cover preventative care. I view vet health insurance as catastrophe insurance. It has helped us immensely over the years, and I am a proud 18+ year policy holder (two dogs).

Click This: Is Pet Health Insurance Worth It (answer: YES!)

Keep Your Dog Healthy: It sounds like common sense, but providing your dog with good routine care, exercise, mental stimulation, a quality diet, and preventative care will go a long way to longevity. Keep smaller issues from escalating to larger ones.

52-Week Savings: I love the 52-week savings plan where the money increases a dollar each week. Week one, you save $1.00. Week two, you save $2.00 You add a dollar to each week’s savings goal. By Week 52, you’ll set aside $52.00, which will bring the year’s total savings to $1,378! That’s a nice hunk of money. When the new year starts, add to it and start at week one again. I’ve actually saved for vacations using this method.

CLICK THIS: Here’s a printable PDF of the 52-week savings plan

medicine versus mom

Medicine vs. Mom

In a continuing effort to bring you even more resources to help your dog, we have partnered with Rachel Sheppard of the My Kid Has Paws blog. Head on over to read her blog post to help you afford your dog’s medical bills.

Your Turn

What is your method or means of savings for any health crises or dog health emergencies? Bark at us in the comments below.


  1. We were bad parents this year we missed taking our cats for their check up. However, our town has started free pet care and we have a vet that comes into town 2x a month to give free care.

  2. That’s wonderful that there are so many nonprofits willing to help! I know I was surprised how expensive vet bills can be. But it is worth it for our furry family members.

  3. These are great ideas and resources, thanks for sharing! I really like that 52 Week Savings Plan, that’s a new one on me, and I read about personal finance incessantly! This article will help so many people, I must share!
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  4. This is great information. I don’t have any pets, but I will share this with friends and family that do.

  5. These are great resources, I didn’t know they existed. Our dog is a beloved member of our family – she’s getting older now, so we’re investing in pet insurance!

  6. This is one of the most important resources for dog parents everywhere. You’ve provided some really wonderful ways to receive assistance if and when you can no longer care for an ill pet. Thank you so much for sharing this information. I’ve copied it if, God forbid, I could not afford my pets’ care or if someone I know needs this. Thank you, thank you, thank you,

  7. People who can afford pet insurance – do it – or save for it.

    If you can’t, and there ARE people who literally walk from small paycheck to small paycheck – and for whom saving is not even an option. The chance of free, or much reduced vet care, is a real lifeline, and a gift. I would never EVER begrudge anyone vet care for lack of funds. It makes you a poverty snob.

  8. I had no idea pet medical bills could be so expensive. I’m glad there’s lots of ways owner can get financial help when needed.

  9. Wow, this is great information and I had no idea people could get help like this. We paid for knee surgeries for both of our dogs and it was ridiculously expensive but of course we had to do it for them!

  10. That’s interesting! We don’t have any pets but I’m glad to know that if we do get a pet there’s help if need be. Thank you for this information.

  11. Great tips! Also, YouCaring is another GoFunMe-esque service with smaller fees. I used it to help raise a portion of funds for Roxie’s recent surgeries. The dog community on social media is one big family and we’re always there to help each other out when needed.

  12. Better yet, learn to treat them yourself holistically and not only will they heal faster and have a stronger immune system after but it is significantly less expensive to treat yourself at home or work with a holistic person (preferably a homeopath) who treats animals, doesn’t have to be a vet. Homeopathy is one of the most powerful modalities and medicines on earth as well as safest. I know this from over 20 years experience of doing this and have cured my animals of things that the vets have no cures for or could not do anything better than what I was already doing for them, they’ve even said these words to me themselves.

  13. We’ve owned Cavaliers and they have many, many health problems. I’ve lost count of the amount of money we have spent throughout the years but if I had to…… I would do it all over again. Informative article..

  14. I am on the board of westiemed and if the dog is a westie or a westie mix and recently adopted or a service or senior dog we award grants up to 2,500 for medical treatment. . For more info westiemed . Org

  15. We have a dog who is insured but because of a pre existing illness (caused by being given medication with known side effects from the vet following a simple operation) we can not change insurers as his illness will not be covered. The yearly cost of the insurance increases at an alarming rate. In two years it has more than doubled despite no claims being made. How can this be fair?

  16. Hi Carol,
    Another excellent article. Both Molly (10 yrs) and Buffy (4 yrs) have low grade murmurs and enlarged hearts. They are on Vetmedin and are doing well. No coughs or fluid. We also have pet insurance. We did the 52-week savings plan a few times. It’s an easy way to save money. Thanks for the info. Hugs to all. Extra big hugs to Dex.

    1. I wish them all the best. They have a wonderful mama. And yay for no cough or fluid. We are under the care of a veterinary cardiologist and have echocardiograms done every 4 months. Hugs and long happy life to all.

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