Many of us wouldn’t be without our pets, but there’s no doubt they can be a big expense when things go wrong.
It can be stressful when your pet is not well and if you are also worried about money it can make the situation worse.
The longer your pet is sick, the worse their illness can get. Seeking advice quickly will likely reduce overall costs and be best for your pet’s health. But unlike our human friends, pets don’t have access to free NHS treatment – and anyone who’s been faced with an unexpected vet bill knows the cost can be something to cringe at.
Read more: Warning to dog owners after painkillers found in Newcastle park
Last year the RSPCA received 3,644 calls from pet owners asking for advice or help with their veterinary bills, an increase of 12% on the previous year.
Below we look at what you should and shouldn’t do if you find yourself unable to afford your pet’s care, as well as some organizations that may be able to help.
Talk to your veterinarian about your situation. The RSPCA says your vet should be able to advise you on how best to help your pet if they are sick or injured, as there may be other options. But if not, your vet should be able to offer you other, cheaper options depending on your situation and location. Sometimes vets offer services at a discount or you can get them for free through some pet insurance companies.
Ask your veterinarian for a prescription that you can buy elsewhere. Buy drugs online or elsewhere. can often be cheaper, as pharmacies that buy large amounts of medication at a time can often lower the price compared to a local vet. Your vet will likely charge you for writing the prescription, so be sure you’ve determined which option is the cheapest.
Consider your payment options. Some vets offer payment plans through a credit company, so if you need help spreading the costs, it’s worth seeing what your vet can offer. But remember – you’re still paying the money, so make sure you can pay it back each month.
Check your pet’s symptoms before automatically taking them to the vet. You can check your pet’s symptoms for free using Vet Help Direct’s online symptom checker or book an online or virtual consultation to determine if your pet needs urgent attention.
CONSIDER alternative treatments. Lower-cost treatments may offer good results, but these options may be less safe or riskier than more expensive alternatives. This is something your vet can explain to you.
Look for a less expensive vet. Vet fees vary depending on location, equipment and tests available, experience and specialty of the vet. Some vets offer low-cost services, and in some areas you can find a non-profit clinic.
Do NOT ignore the problem. As well as leaving your pet in pain, Caroline Allen, chief vet at the RSPCA, said: ‘It can be tempting to stick your head in the sand if your pet seems sick and you’re worried about the costs , but it can lead to an increase. problems later down the line.
Where to find help
Some animal charities help owners struggling with veterinary bills, either by providing part of the payment or by offering reduced costs at their own clinics. In most cases, you’ll need to meet specific criteria to use them, so check first.
PDSA offers free veterinary treatment and medication to pet owners who live within the catchment area of one of its hospitals in Newcastle, Gateshead or Sunderland and who receive housing allowance, council tax assistance or universal credit with a housing element. Only one pet per household is eligible for free assistance, although other animals may benefit from the charity’s low-cost service. This is available to pet owners who receive benefits such as Working Tax Credits, Pension Credit and Disability Living Allowance. State pensioners who live in properties in council tax brackets A through D are also eligible for assistance.
blue cross is another charity that offers free care, but unfortunately there is nothing to offer in the North East.
RSPCA The main aim of the RSPCA is to rescue and rehabilitate animals that have been cruelly treated. The Newcastle & North Northumberland branch of the RSPCA can however, in rare circumstances, provide welfare support to pet owners who can provide evidence of financial hardship and are in receipt of at least one state benefit.
dog confidence offers free and subsidized treatments to owners of animals who are homeless or in housing crisis. The program operates in 112 towns across the UK, including Darlington in County Durham.
Protection of cats offers financial assistance to cash-strapped owners who wish to neuter or neuter their cat. Unfortunately, they do not offer additional assistance with veterinary procedures or bills.
street paws can support homeless people and may be able to help those in sheltered accommodation.
Did you have to pay a big vet bill? Let us know in the comments