Roughly 50 percent to 70 percent of pooch ownership costs go to the pooch's medical expenses. Initial and recurring medical and health insurance costs alone are around $700 the first year and $450 each year thereafter. Surgical expenses, even with pet health insurance, are costly, and some are not always covered. An unexpected operation can be financially devastating unless you can raise money to pay for it.
You buy insurance because it provides peace of mind. However, according to a 2011 Consumer Reports magazine comparison of major pet health insurance providers, a policy could cost you more than it pays out. Insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions and often excludes chronic conditions like hip dysplasia, and insurance companies often limit how much they will pay toward treating a given illness or condition. Be proactive if your vet advises that your pup may need surgery down the road; sock away funds, even if you have pet health insurance.
Some veterinarians will you pay in installments. Otherwise you can take out a line of credit from your bank to cover the cost of surgery, or put the expense on a credit card. If you don't have a credit card with enough funds available, you can apply for credit through a health expenses credit provider like Care Credit. Care Credit is accepted by many veterinarians and provides a grace period of several months to allow you time to pay back what you borrowed, with little to no interest charged.
Check with your veterinarian, the ASPCA, the Humane Society and other pet advocacy organizations for information on grants and other forms of assistance, including subsidized surgical services, which some veterinary colleges provide. The ASPCA website has a list of links to organizations that provide financial assistance for veterinary care, including some that are specific to breed, injury or location. The Humane Society of the United States website has a comprehensive list of state and national level organizations that help pet owners in need, many of which provide assistance with medical bills for dogs.
The Humane Society of the United States advocates undertaking an online fundraiser. Hosting a garage sale, bake sale or car wash in your pooch's honor will alert your neighbors and the community to your pet's special circumstances and needs. Such events can raise funds through sales as well as through donations.
- ASPCA: Pet Care Costs
- Veterinary Pet Insurance: Top 10 Pet Surgeries
- The Humane Society of the United States: Having Trouble Affording Veterinary Care?
- ASPCA: Financial Help With My Vet Bills
- ConsumerReports.org: Pet Insurance: Rarely Worth the Price, in Our Analysis
- The Humane Society of the United States: Are You Having Trouble Affording Your Pet?
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