How to Afford your Vet Visit

Congratulations! You’ve got yourself a new companion! Be they furry, feathered or covered in scales, you’ve now obtained a friend who will depend on you for the rest of their lives. Having a new pet is not just a matter of feeding, training and housing it but also includes taking care of them health-wise.

In a perfect world, your pet would never need to visit the vet, ever. But this is not the case. Regular preventative care is key in the longevity of your pet’s lifetime. Pet’s are living longer and longer now because of breakthroughs in nutrition and healthcare (just as people are). Preventative care is easier to budget for. You expect to pay for Spaying/Neutering and puppy/kitten vaccines in the first year of their life along with parasite control but what about the unexpected?

As much as we try to expect the unexpected, not everyone is able to afford hundreds to thousands of dollars that can come from an emergency such as a car accident. We also don’t always have credit cards. So what do you do in this situation? As much as we, the people in the veterinary field, would LOVE to fix your pet for free it is just not possible. Everyone has bills to pay, the vets, the technicians, the assistants, the receptionists and even you, our dear clients. I digress, but truly, is there a solution to the unexpected? I’ll outline a few options for you to definitely consider below.

1. Pet Insurance
Pet Insurance is definitely something to consider if you own a dog or cat – for exotic pets owners there are unfortunately currently no Canadian Pet Insurance companies that insure exotic pets. Insurance is definitely worthwhile, especially if you enroll your pet early in their lifetime. There’s are pros and cons to having insurance but overall, it is better to have some form of pet insurance as a contingency plan over not having anything at all.

How It Works – Most pet insurance companies have a monthly fee which can be as little as $10.00 per month depending on what your policy covers, the deductible you choose to go with, and how old your pet is at the time of enrollment. In terms of filing a claim, all companies are different but as a general rule you will be required to pay for the vet fees upfront then be reimbursed by your insurance company. The deductible is also something to take into account. Some companies like Trupanion allow you to have a $0.00 deductible based on the premium you pay. While others have deductibles that range from $50.00 – $700.00 per incident, per year. As a general rule though, the higher the premium you pay the lower your deductible. Once you have paid the deductible and submitted your claim form (filled out by the veterinarian) the processing time of claims can vary from 7-30 days. Your insurance company may contact us for your pet’s medical records which we send within 1 business day to help expedite the claim process.

Restrictions – Most pet insurance will require your pet be at minimum 6-8 weeks old before enrollment. Older pets, depending on the age may be ineligible for insurance or be subject to a higher premium. If your pet is quite older, it would be worthwhile to do your research before enrolling as some companies do not have an upper age limit and will accept your pet regardless of how old they are. Even if age is not an issue, some insurance companies will not cover preexisting conditions which is why it is advisable if you are interested in pet insurance, to enroll in it early in your pet’s lifetime. A lot of shelters now will provide you with a 30 day trial of pet insurance when adopting your new companion. Here at Sunrise Animal Hospital, we also offer 30 day trials of Trupanion pet insurance which can be picked up at any point as long as your pet is under the age of 7.

In Summary,

– Safety blanket for larger incidents/accidents.
– Low cost premiums.
– Plans tailored to your lifestyle.
– Automatic monthly payments makes budgeting for your pet easier.

– Payment required upfront + deductible.
– Possible upper age limits.
– May not cover preexisting conditions.

List of some Canadian Pet Insurance Companies: Trupanion, PetSecure, PetPlan, Pet Plus Us & 24 Pet Watch.
Another handy link would be this Pet Insurance Review Website which compares different insurance companies by price, deductible, coverage and also provides testimonials.

2. Medicard/Petcard
Your pet’s just been diagnosed with a cruciate tear and you’re now looking $2000 + surgery that you did not plan for. You don’t have pet insurance nor do you have that kind of cash lying around. So now what? Petcard, a pet specific financing company exists for this very reason. Specializing only in veterinary related financing, they offer flexible payment plans and depending on your credit, relatively low interest rates. They also offer a speedy approval process during emergency situations.

How It Works – Applications for Petcard are available at the hospital or online at You can apply for either part of the vet bill or all of it. Petcard also does not distinguish between needing financing for a regular routine surgery or an emergency procedure. They are really flexible in that they’ll accept an estimated dollar amount for the bill, approve you for the funding amount and then contact us directly with the final invoice. Petcard does pay your veterinarian directly, which relieves the pressure of coming up with the entire amount of the bill immediately. In terms of repayment, Petcard allows you to choose from 6 months to 5 years to pay back the amount. PetCard also allows you to apply for pre-approval before you choose to follow through with any treatment. Petcard does not have a limit of one bill, per person. You just have to reapply if you require any further funding which goes through the same approval process.

Restrictions – Unlike pet insurance which provides for continuous financing during a specific illness, Petcard usually deals in lump sums, focusing on paying one bill at a time. If you needed to bring your pet back in for another visit you would have to apply and be approved again. Petcard, like all financing companies do require that you pass a credit check or have a co-signer with good credit.

In Summary

– Same day approval for financing.
– Allows partial or complete payment of your bill.
– Reimburses your veterinarian directly.
– No need for insurance forms and medical records.

– Requires a credit check.
– Tailored more to specific one-time incidents.
– Have to pay for the entire bill plus interest.

3. Fluffy’s Savings Account
Some would prefer, instead of spending money on pet insurance monthly to put that money into a pet specific savings account. This is definitely a good option for those with exotic pets that do not have the option of pet insurance or for those with older animals/animals with preexisting conditions. Automatic payment options can be set up with your own bank account and as long as you adhere strictly to putting aside some money, possibly $20-$30 monthly (or however much is feasible for your budget) then it is a great idea.

How It Works – Open up a bank account, ideally a savings account with no monthly fee and an interest rate. It would be simpler to have an account linked to your primary account for ease of access. Set up automatic transfers weekly, biweekly, monthly or whatever works best for you.

Restrictions – Unfortunately depending on how much your vet bill is, your savings account may not be enough to cover a larger vet bill. In that situation, a possible combination of Petcard and your savings account would be advisable.

In Summary –

– Flexible contributions based on your budget.
– Spending your own money (no debt incurred).
– Money accumulates continually vs being spent on insurance.

– May not have enough accumulated to cover bill.

4.Online Funding
Online websites such as Go Fund Me and Indiegogo are powerful tools for obtaining funding. You can link to these websites on your social media and request funding from other individuals. Some of the websites do have fees associated with your funding campaign and also have a time limit. If you were to use this method of fundraising then you should definitely do your research.

How It Works – Create your own account with your crowdfunding website of choice. Explain the situation, why does Fluffy need this care? How it happened, etc. Be as detailed as possible. Advertise over social media, ask your friends to share it, post on local rescue pages (with their permission) and through other means.

Restrictions – Some websites require that you set and reach the total funding goal before you are able to access the money or they tag on a penalty for campaigns that don’t reach their goals. There is also a time constraint, funds are not accessible until the campaign is over (usually 15 business days after it is over).

In Summary –

– Able to reach a wide scale of people for aid.
– Money deposited directly into your bank account after campaign is over.
– Wide variety of crowdfunding websites to choose from.
– Money can be donated from anywhere in the world.

– Time limit to obtain funding.
– Fees associated with using some websites.
– Money cannot be received until the campaign is over.

5.Rescue Organizations – Certain rescue organizations may be willing to help aid with emergency treatment depending on the situation. Aid is on a case by case situational basis and rescues are not always able to help. Your local humane services, the SPCA, Heavenly Creature’s Lend A Helping Paw and breed or species specific rescues are definitely worth contacting in an emergency situation.

Overall, there are many ways to make pet care affordable. It’s just a matter of finding out what works best for your lifestyle. You may find that one or a combination of the above options work best for you. If you had any other questions please do not hesitate to contact us at (709)368-7981!

Pet Plus Us
24 Pet Watch.
Pet Insurance Review Website
Go Fund Me
Lend A Helping Paw
Preventive Vet – Pay for Pet Emergencies

Written by Sunrise Animal Hospital