There is never a good time for an animal to get sick, but the period after the holidays seems to be the worst possible time for it to happen. People are the strapped for cash after buying gifts, and still awaiting their tax returns. As Murphy’s Law would have it, this would be when your animal gets sick, or after having a car repair done, or some other large expense.
Even if you have a perfectly healthy animal, I would recommend having a back up plan for an unforeseen illness. My uncle recently had to take his dog to the emergency vet, $1200 later she is doing much better, but he had to put it on his credit card. He is happy that she is doing well, but that was an expense he wasn’t expecting. I tell some of my clients to start a “college fund” for their puppy. If you are able, start a savings account dedicated to emergencies or even annual visits for your pet. It is much easier to save $25 a month, than to have to pay $400 up front.
Nowadays, very few vets offer payment plans. Much like the government and banking system, it caused wrenches in small business, to allow people to carry balances, some which were never payed off. There are other options that many veterinarians will offer. The most popular one tends to be Care Credit. It is a credit card that provides a line of credit to veterinarian and healthcare facilities with no interest for up to a year. Pet insurance can also be helpful in some cases. While you still have to pay the veterinarian, you may get reimbursed for a portion of the bill. Pet insurance can be helpful for certain breeds that are pre-disposed to costly medical problems. The carriers we recommend are VPI, ASPCA, and Trupanion. I advise checking online forums to see which one sounds best for you and your pet.
While our goal is always preventative healthcare, unexpected illnesses can occur. It is unfortunate when people bring their pets in and can’t afford the tests we veterinarians recommend to help diagnose and treat the illness. Having a financial back up plan or savings account is highly recommended, so that we can provide the best care possible for your furry family member.
Lauren Hessey, DVM