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Ways to Pay for Unexpected Vet Bills

By Stacey Leasca · June 13, 2023 · 4 minute read

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Ways to Pay for Unexpected Vet Bills

When you adopted your furry friend, you may have underestimated just how much you could love them. Another thing you may not have been ready for: their vet bills.

If you’ve ever worried, What happens if I can’t pay the vet bill, know that you have options. So you never have to choose between your emergency fund and your doggo, kitten, iguana, or fish.

Pets as Family Members

American households increasingly include one or more pets. Currently, 70% of U.S. households have pets. And the majority of American pet owners consider them to be members of the family.

So it’s no surprise to learn that Americans are willing to shell out big bucks for their fur babies. Dog owners spend, on average, $912 per year on them, and cat owners spend, on average, $653.

Caring for the physical health of our pets is as important as making sure they’re happy in our homes. Among dog owners, 36% would pay $4,000 dollars or more out of pocket for life-saving care.

Be Prepared With Pet Insurance

The best defense is a good offense, and when it comes to healthcare, that often means having insurance. Like humans, pets, too, can have their own health insurance that can help with vet bills in case things go awry with their health.

A number of companies offer pet insurance plans at different price points. Just like human insurance, the plans offer coverage in exchange for paying premiums each month along with copays and deductibles. Checking out sites like PetInsuranceReview.com may be helpful when comparing plans and pricing to find the offering that fits you and your pet’s needs.

Negotiate an Installment Plan With Your Vet

You may be able to negotiate a payment plan with your veterinarian, so long as you’re a client in good standing at the practice. This payment plan could work out to weekly or monthly installments, depending on what you and your provider agree upon.

However, it should be noted that this is not a standard practice and your veterinarian has every right to refuse to offer a plan. But it’s always worth asking, especially if it’s the veterinarian who has cared for your pet over its lifetime and knows you well.

Seek Out a Second Opinion or a Nearby Veterinary School

It can be important to get a second opinion before your pet undergoes major surgery or procedures (just as you would for yourself or a human loved one).

If a second veterinarian gives you the same diagnosis and you’re still unable to pay for the treatment, you may want to consider reaching out to a local veterinary college. Some offer low-cost clinics run by veterinary students supervised by experienced veterinarians and vet techs. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA.org) provides a list of accredited schools on its website.

Recommended: Dog-Friendly Vacation Ideas

Seek Help From a Charitable Organization

Charities like Paws4aCure.org provide financial assistance for pet owners who cannot afford non-routine veterinary care for cats and dogs of any breed or age, or for any diagnosis.

If your pet has a non-basic, non-urgent care situation, such as a chronic illness or cancer, organizations like ThePetFund.com may be able to help.

The Takeaway

According to AmericanPetProducts.org, pet owners spent more than $36 billion on veterinary care in 2022. While a typical routine visit costs between $50 and $250, emergency surgery for a dog can run up to $5,000.

One option to cover the cost of expensive medical care for your pet is an unsecured personal loan, which could allow you to pay for your pet’s care upfront, then pay the loanoff over time.

You can’t prevent unexpected vet bills, but you can prepare for other unplanned expenses by making sure you, your loved ones, and your belongings are properly insured. That’s where insurance options with SoFi Protect can help. SoFi Protect offers insurance plans for your home and car, plus life insurance plans to help you protect your loved ones in the future.

Learn more about reliable insurance options with SoFi Protect.


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