Paying for Fido's medical care

15 Ways to Make Veterinary Bills More Affordable

by Gary Foreman

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According to the Humane Society, there are approximately 160 million dogs and cats in the U.S. Over one third of all households include a furry family member.

Many of those families are struggling with bills, including veterinary bills for their pets. If you're one of those families, consider these 15 ways to make your vet's bill more affordable.

Contact local animal shelters. Most shelters are run on a tight budget, so they know who the low cost vets are. Most are happy to pass along the names of vets they use.

Ask a rescue shelter if they can help with medications or treatments. Some shelters will offer help if they know that the alternative is for you to leave your beloved pet with them. Others will spread the word among their members asking if anyone can help.

Check with local pet stores. People owning and working at pet stores love animals. If they know that you're struggling to pay vet bills, they may have a suggestion that could be helpful. They might also be willing to provide medications at a discount.

Look for a rural veterinarian. Not only do country vets have lower business overhead, but they know that the families that they help can't afford big bills for farm animals. And their prices reflect that.

Find a college of veterinary medicine. Just like other medical schools future vets need to be taught. And many teaching schools offer low cost care if you allow students to treat your pet. The American Veterinary Medical Association has a listing of veterinary schools.

Don't be proud. Let your Facebook and Twitter friends know that you're having trouble with vet bills. Post pictures of your pet on Pinterest. You might be surprised at the help that other animal lovers offer.

Look for online discounts. Use the power of the internet to search for low medication pricing.

Administer medications yourself. Many pet meds don't require a vet. Even shots can be administered by a family member.

Check the Humane Society's site. They have assembled a listing of private and state agencies that could offer help.

Check with any groups for your pet's breed. Some breeds have assistance programs that can provide financial aid. The best way to find them is to ask your vet or do a search for your breed.

Save on your pet's medications at 1-800-PetMeds.

Negotiate a payment plan with your vet. Many vets will work with you if you explain your situation. They don't want you to give up your pet for financial reasons.

Barter with your vet. Do you have a skill? Perhaps your vet needs some work done that you could do in return for his services.

Offer to work for your vet. She might be willing to trade some of your time for her services. You don't need special skills to clean kennels, wash dogs, or answer phones.

Look for ways to reduce the cost of other pet supplies. Don't limit your search to vet bills. If you can reduce the cost of pet food and other supplies, that money can be used to pay the vet. Look for pet food coupons or learn to make your own pet food.

Avoid big vet bills. A healthy lifestyle isn't just good for you. It's good for your pet, too. A balanced diet and reasonable exercise can help prevent expensive health problems. Don't forget vitamins.

Reviewed June 2017

Gary Foreman

Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded The Dollar website and newsletters in 1996. He's the author of How to Conquer Debt No Matter How Much You Have and he's been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, US News Money, and Gary shares his philosophy of money here. Gary is available for audio, video or print interviews. For more info see his media page.

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