This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.(Last Updated On: March 11, 2019)
When our pets get sick, we do all we can to get them the best veterinary care possible. That’s why when mine gets sick, I take them to the vet as soon as possible. Unfortunately – and this is something that I know most pet owners can relate to – veterinary care services don’t come cheap.
Unemployed pet owners and pet owners with low incomes are especially affected by this lack of affordable veterinary care services. I have been there too, and it was during one of these periods of financial difficulty that I wondered, “Isn’t there a way to get my pets quality veterinary care without paying an arm and a leg for it?”
A little bit of research showed me that pet owners can actually get no-cost veterinary services for their dogs, cats, and other pets. Note that I’m not talking about saving a few dollars off of your vet bills, but actually getting veterinary services free of charge.
It was tough to find some of these programs, which are offered by several organizations out there that are concerned with the wellbeing of pets living in low-income families. However, a few hours’ worth of research later and I was able to compile a list of 8 ways to get free or dirt-cheap vet care for your pets.
Here they are.
1. Shop Around
Since I didn’t know where to start, I kicked off my search for better vet care prices by comparing as many as I could. What I found out was promising. While some vet centers charged an average of $75 per visit, others asked for as low as $35! I noticed that there is quite a lot that determines the cost of a visit to the vet, including the location and the proficiency of the clinic in question.
2. Check Out Local Clinics
It is unfortunate that most of us go to private vet clinics that are miles away from home when there are local clinics available that can provide the same medical care at much lower prices. A lot of these local clinics often give out free veterinary care, and in nearly all of them, spaying and neutering services are either very cheap or free.
I used two online tools to find the cheapest local clinics in my area, so if you’re interested, check out Spay/neuter clinic locator and the ASPCA low-cost spay/neuter programs.
AVMF stands for the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, which is an organization that helps vets to provide free and low-cost medical services by offering the Veterinary Care Charitable Fund program.
The foundation subsidizes the cost of vet care to make it accessible to low-income pet parents, pets that have been abused, and pets belonging to disabled war veterans. Vets that are enrolled with the AVMF are able to offer basic medical care at no cost, or at extremely low prices. I found that going to an AVMF-registered vet is a lot more pocket-friendly.
Besides having a very cute name, the PAWS organization is one you’ll like because they dabble in providing a number of no-cost veterinary services to low-income earners. PAWS allows you to give your pets the medical care they need, including vaccinations, and microchippings, at no cost whatsoever. They may not wear capes, but to pet owners that are having a hard time paying for their beloved pets’ medical bills, PAWS are true heroes.
Spaying and neutering services are the most commonly sought after vet services, which is why SpayUSA makes sure that they are available to all. I was ecstatic to learn that the organization is actually a referral service that can quickly connect you with over 1,500 low-cost clinics with very affordable sterilization services.
If you simply need an affordable veterinary to spay or neuter your pets, this is definitely your best bet.
6. Try a Local Veterinary College
If there’s a vet school in your vicinity, then I suggest you try that first before going to a vet’s clinic. Vet schools offer a lot of the same services you get at a vet’s office, but since they’re provided by vets-in-training, they are much cheaper.
If you’re worried about leaving your pet in students’ hands, don’t be, because all the procedures are supervised by a certified vet. Does this mean that you can get low-cost, high-quality vet care services just as long as you’re near an accredited veterinary college? Yes, it does. Just make sure that the college is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
7. Shop Around When Buying Prescription Medication
It is not advisable to always go for the cheapest option when it comes to prescription meds for your pets, especially since the FDA has issued a lot of red flags on prescription drugs for animals in the past. However, you should still compare prices to find the best deals.
Some of the websites that I found extremely useful for this are Kroger, Walmart, Doctors Foster and Smith, 1-800-PetMeds, and PetCareRx.
8. Talk to your Vet
Don’t be afraid to talk to your vet if you’re afraid that you won’t be able to cover the bill. As I found out when I took my cat to the vet about a year ago, vets are humans too. Pet-loving humans.
If the cost of care goes way beyond your budget, pull your vet aside and discuss payment options. Some may give you a payment plan that suits you, while others can go as far as giving you a discounted price if you’re a regular customer.
Sometimes all you need to do is ask.
Prevention is Much, Much Cheaper than Cure
I can tell you right now that I intend to keep my pets healthy because I found out that the single cheapest way to keep your pets healthy is to be proactive about their health.