One of the main responsibilities that come with the ownership of a dog, or any other pet for that matter, is being able to fund the cost of their ownership, and this means much more than simply keeping your dog in kibble and giving them a warm place to sleep.
Dog ownership can be a very expensive undertaking, particularly for larger dogs, and it is important not to overlook any of the sometimes hard to identify ongoing costs of ownership, such as annual boosters, flea and worming treatments, and emergency care.
Planning ahead and ensuring that you can afford to keep your dog before you get it is really important, and one of the best ways to cover the cost of sometimes expensive unexpected veterinary care is by having your dog insured. However, insurance will not cover the cost of routine and preventative treatments, and neither will it cover pre-existing health conditions-so if your dog is diagnosed with an expensive health condition, it will be too late to get insurance for it!
For routine treatments such as your dog’s flea and worming treatments and their annual boosters, putting a little money aside each month can help to cover these costs, and some vets even run payment schemes to allow their clients to spread the cost over the course of a year, sometimes even offering discounts for those enrolled. Additionally, some clinics such as the Vets4Pets chain and Companion Care run offers in a lot of their practices where at the time of your dog’s vaccinations, you can pay an additional one-off fee of around £100, which will cover the cost of all of your dog’s future annual booster shots for life-even if your dog lives well into their teens!
Over the long run, all of these things can save you money and soften the blow of large veterinary expenses-but what if your dog needs emergency treatment and you cannot afford it, or you need help covering the cost of an ongoing treatment?
In this article, we will look at some of the options if you do not have insurance, if your insurance coverage is not enough, or if your insurance will not pay out.
One of the worst possible things that you can do if your dog needs to see the vet and you don’t have any money is to withhold treatment. In an emergency, your dog must see a vet, regardless of your ability to pay-and if your dog has an issue in the making, delaying any longer than necessary can actually make the issue harder to treat and more costly in the meantime.
Get your dog to the vet asap in an emergency, and talk to your vet as soon as possible if your dog is ill-your vet will perform basic care in an emergency regardless of your ability to pay on the spot, and if you are honest with the vet about your budget and ability to pay, they will work with you to try to sort things out.
If you look at the website or signage for most clinics, they will make it very clear that payment is due at the time of the appointment, and in some cases, that insured owners must pay their bill and claim the funds back on their insurance later on. However, may vets will take direct payment from an insurer if you ask them first, and in emergencies or if you are honest and speak truthfully to your vet about your ability to pay, they may be willing to let you set up a payment plan with them, particularly if you can demonstrate your ability to pay and have been a client of the clinic for some time.
The PDSA runs a scheme called Pet Aid, which is designed to help people on low incomes and/or in receipt of benefits to cover the cost of their veterinary care. In some areas, this may be provided in a specialist PDSA clinic, or in others, they will have a designated clinic that offers services on their behalf.
The rules for who is eligible for this help are fairly narrow-generally, you have to be in receipt of housing benefit, and can only register one pet at a time. However, in some areas there may be help available from other charitable organisations or groups, and it can be worth asking around, or asking your vet if they have any ideas.
It is never a good idea to get into debt or live beyond your means, but in an emergency if you have a good credit score, you may need to apply for a loan, overdraft or credit card to help you to pay for veterinary care. If you do take out any form of credit, make sure that you feel confident in your ability to make the necessary payments, and do not overcommit yourself.
If you have anything that you can sell off, you may be able to raise all or some of the money that you need by raising money for yourself by holding a bake sale or other event, or selling off your unwanted goods on sites like Ebay, Gumtree, or even in a garage sale or something similar.
Finally, crowdfunding is something that is becoming more and more common in the UK, which is a system or asking the general public to help you to cover your expenses for certain things, and largely depends on the goodwill of others, and the plausibility of your approach.
If you can demonstrate that your inability to pay was outside of your control-such as if you had insurance but it would not cover the full cost needed, or if you have done everything else in your power to raise the money first, you will be more likely to be successful. However, this is something of a last ditch attempt to raise funds, and you should not rely upon being able to get help from well-meaning strangers.