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What do you do when you can’t afford your dog’s vet bill? With so many new cutting-edge treatments available, it’s a problem countless pet owners face.
Not long ago, a reader wrote to me about this financial dilemma. Her 4-year-old Dachshund had suffered a Fibrocartilaginous Embolism (FCE) stroke that left the dog paralyzed. Their veterinarian recommended Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) and after a few weeks the dachshund was doing better. The woman wanted to continue the treatments, but couldn’t afford the ongoing cost. Together we found a group to help.
After that I continued to track down as many organizations as I could find that pay for vet bills. When I was done, I had a long list of nonprofit groups in the USA and Canada who are set up for the sole purpose of helping pet owners who are stressed over vet bills. I’ve put them into the handy list below.
A few words about pet insurance
I would be lax if I didn’t mention pet insurance. It’s the obvious choice to keep veterinary bills affordable, especially when your dog is seriously ill.
Nearly 1.4 million companion animals are covered by pet insurance in the U.S. If you’re considering signing up, the North American Pet Health Insurance Association can walk you through the process and help you compare policies.
Nonprofit groups that offer financial aid
There are lots of wonderful agencies that help when you can’t afford your dog’s vet bill. Half are set up to provide grant money for veterinary bills and others are based on the type of health problem your dog has, but ALL of them offer prompt help when you need it most.
You’ll find applications and be directed to each group when you click on their name.
National organizations that help when you can’t afford your dog’s vet bill
Wild Hearts – This is one of my favorite groups. Formerly known as Bialy’s Wellness Foundation, Wild Hearts provides comprehensive ongoing care to animals with mobility problems. The group serves pets with paralysis, amputation, neurologic conditions and birth defects. They offer financial aid, veterinary services, rehabilitation therapy, mobility devices and ongoing education. They connect pets with veterinary specialists and then cover the costs for lifesaving veterinary care.
Dr. Steve Abrams Memorial Foundation – PetSavers, Inc. – The goal of this nonprofit is to award grants to pet owners who can’t pay for critical veterinary care for their dog or cat. Their vision is to eliminate the euthanasia of pets because of economics. Applicants must meet these criteria: Have verifiable financial need, were denied by CareCredit or a similar program, and have a favorable prognosis from a veterinarian.
The Guinness Dunn Foundation – This organization was founded in 2020 as a lasting memorial to a treasured dog named Guinness. The private foundation is committed to keeping pets and their families together during difficult times by providing financial assistance for emergency veterinary bills, pet food assistance and mobility carts for disabled dogs.
Brown Dog Foundation – This great agency has been helping dogs for many years. Their grants bridge the gap between the cost of medical care and saving a family pet.
The Dog & Cat Cancer Fund – The group works directly with veterinarians to help families in need get treatment for their dogs and cats with cancer.
American Veterinary Care Charitable Fund – This program is funded through the American Veterinary Medical Association. Applications must be submitted by an AVMA veterinarian member. Grants are awarded as a way for veterinarians to offer a charitable discount to clients facing financial hardships. Aid is geared toward senior citizens, disabled veterans, rescued animals and victims of domestic violence.
Dylan’s Hearts – Here’s another group that only accepts applications for help from a veterinarian. Their goal is to provide families struggling financially with payment for emergency and critical care treatments.
Friends & Vets Helping Pets – The organization helps when your pet needs financial aid for “curable”, lifesaving injuries and diseases. These include: tumors, broken bones, expensive medications and post-surgical prosthetics and wheelchairs.
Joey’s P.A.W. – This is another of my favorite groups. Joey’s P.A.W. pays for custom prosthetics and wheelchairs for dogs with mobility problems, paralysis, amputations and birth-defects.
The Wishbone Foundation – This young group started in 2021 after the founder personally experienced the cost and time in caring for a special needs dog named Wishbone. To help other pet owners, the foundation offers temporary financial aid for medical procedures, equipment (dog wheelchairs), at-home care and rehabilitation.
The ASPCA has recommendations to help when you can’t afford your dog’s vet bill
The American Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals says:
- Talk with your veterinarian about setting up a payment plan when your dog needs an expensive treatment.
- If you live near a veterinary school of medicine, check their programs for free veterinary care and clinical trials.
- Older pet owners should ask their veterinarian about a senior discount.
- Consider healthcare credit card programs as an option. CareCredit is a 30-year-old company that offers financing for veterinary procedures and diagnostic tests.
Harley’s Hope Foundation – A nonprofit group that offers financial aid grants for major illnesses and emergency veterinary care.
Dachshund Friends In Deed – This breed specific nonprofit provides assistance for owners who can’t afford veterinary care for sick or injured dachshunds. The group doesn’t pay for MRIs at this time and they don’t pay for veterinary services already rendered.
Hope Mending Hearts – A grant program started by a veterinarian to help pet families who need immediate veterinary care in order for their animal to survive. Due to an overwhelming number of applications this group only awards small $100-200 grants at this time.
Pet Assistance, Inc. – PAi provides emergency veterinary subsidies to pet owners in crisis. Animals must have a good prognosis.
Magic Bullet Fund – This organization helps with financial aid for cats and dogs fighting cancer.
Max’s Helping Paws Foundation – The mission of this group is to stop financial circumstances from deciding a pet’s fate. Max’s Helping Paws Foundation provides pet owners assistance with the costs of urgent medical care.
Paws 4 A Cure – A nonprofit that aids families whose dogs and cats are in need of non-routine veterinary care for an illness or injury.
The Pet Fund – A group that provides assistance to treat pets with cancer, heart disease and other non-routine or emergency care.
RedRover Relief – This nonprofit organization offers grant money so pet caregivers can afford urgent and emergency veterinary treatment for their pets. They also have unique grants to board pets while their owner is hospitalized or when an owner needs to stay at a domestic violence shelter.
Shakespeare Animal Fund – This group says they receive more than 500 requests for aid every month. Their mission is to provide funding so that veterans, elderly, disabled, and low-income pet families do not have to euthanize an animal because they can’t afford to pay for emergency care.
STARelief – A program that offers small grants for pets who need medical care or emergency boarding or foster care.
Nonprofits that offer financial aid to animal rescue groups
American Humane Second Chance Grants – These grants are open to public and private animal shelters and rescue groups. Funds are awarded to cover medical procedures for animals that have been victims of abuse or neglect.
The Grey Muzzle Organization – Grants are provided to animal welfare organizations and rescue groups to help homeless senior dogs. Grey Muzzle’s vision is to create a “world where no old dog dies alone and afraid.”
ISF Emergency Medical Care Grants – This grant program assists rescue groups and on occasion individual rescuers. They pay for the medical care of animals recovering from abuse, neglect or injuries from a traumatic event.
Groups in Canada that help when you can’t afford your dog’s vet bill
The Farley Foundation – This program was founded in 2001 by artist and cartoonist, Lynn Johnston, who writes the syndicated comic strip, For Better or For Worse®. The foundation subsidizes the cost of non-elective veterinary care for pets whose families live in Ontario.
Kona’s Coalition – A group that provides financial aid for acute veterinary care.
Animal Cancer Therapy Subsidization Society – ACTSS covers the cost of cancer treatment for pets in Alberta who need financial assistance.
Share the love
All of the organizations listed above could use some love. That could come in the form of a donation or public awareness. Please check out their social media sites and spread the word to other pet families about the good work they do.