What to Do if You Can't Afford Your Pet's Care -- Even With Insurance

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  • Putting pet insurance in place can help defray the cost of veterinary care.
  • If you're still struggling to cover your bills even with insurance, try negotiating with your vet, tapping resources that provide assistance, or fundraising for care expenses.

There's a reason pet owners are commonly advised to put pet insurance in place. Without a policy, you might struggle to cover the costs of things like surgery or expensive medical treatment for your pet.

But what if your pet care bills are still unmanageable despite having insurance? At that point, you may be ready to resign yourself to loads of credit card debt. But before you do, consider these options instead.

1. Negotiate with your vet

You might have a pet insurance policy to help cover your pet's medical care. But veterinarians are often well aware that these policies commonly come with coverage limits, and that they also don't cover pre-existing conditions.

That's why it pays to talk to your vet about your financial situation and try to negotiate either a payment plan or a reduced rate for your pet's care. In many cases, the former is something vets tend to be more amenable to, because it allows them to get their money, albeit over time.

2. Seek out assistance from different organizations

Even if you put money into your savings account and bought pet insurance to make sure you could cover your pet's care, you might end up with bills that you're not capable of managing. But in that situation, you shouldn't feel bad about asking for help, and a good place to start may be a local animal rescue group in your area.

Sometimes, rescues have discretionary funds available to help struggling pet owners. And if you adopted your pet from an actual rescue, that specific organization may be especially willing to help cover some of your medical costs, even if your adoption took place years ago. Otherwise, the Humane Society has a list of resources you can explore if you need help covering your pet's care.

3. Fundraise the money

Asking people you know (and those you don't) for money to help cover your pet's care can be an uncomfortable thing to do. But if you're left with no better choice, you might as well go for it.

One option here is to create a GoFundMe campaign and try circulating it on social media. Another is to try to team up with a local business to fundraise for your pet. A local pet store or groomer, for example, might be willing to let you set up a booth outside their storefront.

You could even put up a lemonade stand or sell home-baked goods outside your home in the hopes of scrounging up some cash -- though to be fair, if you need to raise $2,000 to cover your pet's care, you're going to have to sell a lot of cookies to meet your fundraising goal. But remember, if you tell people what you're fundraising for, they might buy a $3 cookie and also throw an extra $5 or $10 in your donation jar. And that could add up.

A recent survey by Lemonade found that on average, pet owners would spend $6,060 to save their pets in an emergency situation. But that's money you may not have. So before you wreck your finances in the course of providing care for your pet, consider these options.

Our Research Expert

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