When you adopted your newest furry friend, you may have underestimated just how much you could love your pet. But they became a member of the family in an instant, and now you can’t imagine your home without their friendly presence.
But pets hit with a health scare can quickly turn into expensive furballs—even if they’re still cute furballs. Survey respondents to the 2020 TD Ameritrade Pets & Finances Survey said the most they would spend on a sick dog’s treatment is $3,307, and $1,991 on a sick cat’s treatment.
Even if they would be willing to spend that amount of money, many people probably aren’t ready for an unexpected vet bill of that size.
If you’ve ever worried about “what happens if I can’t pay my vet bill?”—know that there are ways to plan ahead. There are options to tackle a massive bill so you can make sure your pooch, kitten, iguana, or favorite fish comes home happy and healthy from their next vet visit.
Considering Pets as Family Members
American households increasingly include one or more pets. Currently, 67% of US households have pets, and the current pandemic era has seen an increase in the number of households who welcomed a furry family member.
Gen Z led the pack with a 16% increase in pet ownership in 2020. The percentage of Millennials who welcomed a pet during 2020 increased by 13%. The majority of American pet owners, across generations, consider their pets to be “fur babies,” and 71% of Millennials think of their pets as “starter children.”
So it’s no surprise to learn that Americans are also willing to shell out big bucks for their fur babies. Dog owners spend, on average, $1,201 per year on their pet, and cat owners spend, on average, $687.
Caring for the physical health of our pets is as important as making sure they’re happy in our homes. If offered leave from their jobs to care for a new pet, 61% of Americans surveyed would take it.
Being 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.
Companies like Trupanion™ , Embrace® , Healthy Paws® , and Figo Pet® offer insurance for cats and dogs, while companies like Nationwide® , Pet Assure® , and Prime Insurance™ also cover exotic pets.
Each one offers different plans and different price points. Just like human insurance, the plans offer coverage in exchange for paying premiums each month along with co-pays and deductibles. Checking out sites like Pet Insurance Review may be helpful when comparing plans and pricing to find the offering that fits you and your pet’s needs.
Trying to 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.
Seeking 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 provides a list of accredited schools on its website.
Recommended: How To Become a Veterinarian in 6 Steps
Seeking Help From a Charitable Organization
Charities like Paws 4 A Cure 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 The Pet Fund may be able to help.
According to the American Pet Products Association , pet owners spent more than $31 billion on veterinary care in 2020. While a typical routine visit may cost about $45 to $55, a radiation therapy treatment for a dog with cancer can run up to $6,000.
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.
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