Got Vet Bills? Creative Ways Pet Parents Pay Them!

It can be overwhelming when you are handed a bill at your vet’s office for several thousand dollars. Maybe you see an endless line of zeros on your bill at the emergency vet or perhaps it’s an estimate for future services. Whatever the circumstances, there’s most likely a weld in your throat and a knot in your stomach (and that’s on top of your sick pup). Oh, and don’t forget the classic part of your eyes glazing over as your brain tries to comprehend the thought “Who can pay for vet bills?”

Let me put your mind at ease a bit. Today, there are pet parents who are thinking outside the box and coming up with unique ways to pay their bills. Or even create a fund for a future vet bill.

Here are six great ideas currently being used by pet parents to pay for vet bills.

happy woman plays with dog after find a way to pay for vet bills
disclaimer note
Budget Tip:

Yes, it can be a huge stumbling block when you get a vet bill with a string of zeros at the end. But you aren't the first to feel the weight of an overwhelming vet bill. Many other pet parents are paving a creative path. Look to these dog parents for inspiration. You may even have your own creative idea sparked by these pet parents. It's definitely a good thing for your dog budget and your stress level to think outside the box when it comes to paying for your vet bills.

1. Create an online shop 

Britt with Lucifer The Rescue Pup has been very creative with her dog’s unexpected vet bills. Not even a year after adopting Lucifer, Britt discovered that Lucifer suffered serious trauma pre-adoption. The result is that he now needs his front wrists fused. Of course, the surgery is very pricey. But this hasn’t deterred Britt!

The solution by Britt was to create a website, establish a social media presence, and open an online store, with proceeds going to Lucifer’s vet bills. As another great option, with Lucifer’s store, she’s included a donation button. Super idea!

tricks to use an online store to pay for vet bills

2. Sell DIY 

Brittany with the Naked Dog Boutique also has been creative in paying for her vet bills. Brittany is a professional photographer but turned to her love of sewing when she was faced with eye-popping bills for her pup. She created a website, established a social media presence, and very cleverly offered her shoppers personalized options, a monthly subscription box of customized goodies, and even gift cards. Terrific way to think outside the box!

tricks to pay for vet bills

Note: When setting up an online store either for DIY products or traditional products, don’t forget to ask your contacts. Reach out to your family, friends, and even your dog community and ask them to share it on their social media pages such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to name a few. 

3. Sell unused stuff

I’ve personally used this one for my rescue dog, Henry. Although, I didn’t know it at the time.

Let me tell you people, regardless of what they say, are hoarders of “stuff”. And as we all know one person’s garbage is another person’s treasure. You’ll be shocked at what is lurking around your home or what has value to someone.

As I continue to clean out my mom’s house since she’s passed, I’ve found things many things I could sell. For some reason, mom held onto my old bedroom set. Yep, it was a find in the back of the garage. Amazingly it was in good shape. I sold it for $1500 on Craigslist, which paid for all of Henry’s vet bills for the year. While this wasn’t a critical need at the time, it padded Henry’s savings account for his vet care bills for the year. Basically, it’s his emergency fund account.

However, you can find much smaller items hiding that you can sell at a good price, like old board games or even jewelry.

NOTE: I’ve discovered to search what items are worth by what’s sold on eBay. The amount of what a similar item sold for is a good ballpark value. 

tricks to sell stuff to pay for vet bills

4. Side hustle

A great side gig can help tremendously to pay vet bills. For example, a dog parent might find time to pet sit, dog walk, or run errands for homebound neighbors. When you’re at your local dog park, if allowed, you can put up a flier for the services you offer with a contact number. Or you can even make an announcement on social media.

But be aware that it can take a while to get established as a pet service. Additionally, you will most likely want insurance and you may be required to have a business license depending on your state or county. Although, I have learned from a friend who became a dog walker to pay for her dog’s veterinary expenses, that at least in some states, you can get a group insurance policy with two or more dog walkers. This can help with the costs, which, of course, you want to keep minimal since the goal is to raise funds.

5. GoFundMe

While this might not be the most creative anymore, it can still be effective. As such, I would be neglectful if I didn’t include it. However, there are a few tips to create a successful GoFundMe pet page.

1. Include photos

A few great photos of your dog will help engage people.

2. Details are a must

Include details about why your dog needs the surgery. You may want to also include a letter from your veterinary clinic along with an invoice or quote if you’re waiting to get the procedure until you have the funds.

3. Post updates

Share updates on your dog’s care and the progress of achieving the pet fund goal with regular posts. Many donors will feel vested in your dog’s journey and frequent posts will help keep them engaged.

4. Reach out to your local news

This will allow you to reach a larger audience and hopefully legitimize your appeal.

5. Post on social media

When you post your GoFundMe page on your social media account make sure you allow it to be shared by your community. Often I will see help pages posted, but there’s no share link, which makes it much more difficult.

6. Thank your donors

Yep, what your mom always said, “say thank you”. It really does go a long way and it means a lot to folks because it’s often not said much anymore.

NOTE: Different countries will have their own version of GoFundMe. For example, New Zealand has PledgeMe

6. Charities and grants

Yes, there are specific organizations and even grants that will help when your pet is sick. While they may not be the most creative since a lot of people know of them, they might be a great help to your dog. Although keep in mind some charities have requirements for your dog or you, such as income levels, ailment, or prognosis.

However, it might be worth looking into this angle to see if you or your dog qualify. Here’s what I’ve learned, the worst you’ll get is a no. To me, that’s worth applying if you think there’s a slight possibility of qualifying.

NOTE: Unfortunately, the charities and grants I’ve found thus far are all located in the US. If you need help finding a charity in your location, let me know and I’ll do my best. There are some that are specific to some states and US regions. However, I decided to keep this list as broad as possible.

Bond’s Fund

This fund is focused on eye ailments. Like most funds, it will only help with pending or estimated vet bills. It will not reimburse pet parents. Frankie’s Friends manages this fund.

Bow Wow Buddies Foundation

The focus of this organization is emergency vet situations and illnesses, which can be shockingly pricing and unexpected. You can apply online.

Brown Dog Foundation, Inc.

Another great fund to research. But again, they will generally only help with bills that haven’t been paid.

Frankie’s Friends

Again, this organization will help with pending vet bills for pets with a good prognosis of up to $1500.

Friends & Vets Helping Pets

This organization helps low-income pet parents with vet bills. They even partner with veterinarians to assist pet parents and their pets.

Help-A-Pet

This organization has an income restriction. If you make less than $20K personally, or your household income is less than $40K, then you might qualify for help from this organization. Applications are reviewed by mail.

The Joshua Louis Animal Cancer Fund

To qualify for help from this fund the pet must have a good prognosis for cancer treatment. Additionally, this fund asks veterinary hospitals to provide a 25% discount while also providing funding. Frankie Friends manages this fund.

Paws 4 A Cure

This organization has a goal of helping pet parents with surprise vet bills. You can apply online and submit an estimated vet bill.

My Pet Child

This organization operates a bit differently. While they do have a $200 grant to help with vet bills, that’s not their main focus. Their main goal is to find financial assistance for low-income pet parents.

The Pet Fund

This fund offers help with veterinary bills for cancer, heart disease, and other ailments. They accept applicants online only. Again, they will only help with pending vet bills.

RedRover Relief

This organization’s grants are typically in the range of $200 but they focus on helping pet owners in immediate need. An application can be filled out online and needs to be submitted prior to incurring bills for treatment.

Veterinary Care Charitable Fund

This organization is another different type of fund. Your vet will need to apply for you online and be a partnered vet with the organization. But it’s worth a try, especially since they don’t list any limitations on condition.

Waggle

This organization uses crowd-funded platforms with partnered veterinarians to provide medical care for pets in need.

NOTE: Most of these funds will only assist in paying for pending vet bills and not reimburse for vet bills paid. Thus, if your dog needs treatment immediately, then get treatment. But if you can plan for a procedure and get an estimate, then take that route, and apply for help. Remember you can use the other creative bill-paying methods listed for vet bills already paid.

Other ways to pay for vet bills

While there are other ways to pay for your dog’s medical care, they aren’t unique, creative, or untraditional. Additionally, there are many charities strictly focused on veterinary assistance for pet parents when spay and neutering their dogs and pets.

Moreover, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the more mainstream methods for paying your dog’s vet expenses. These include:

NOTE: Some pet parents will take out a personal loan when facing mind-numbing veterinary expenses. This should really be a last resort. However, our fur kids are family and I understand doing what you feel is best in your situation. 

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Summary of  cool ways dog parents pay for vet bills

I love the creativity of people and how when times get tough they get tougher. Today we discovered a few people who have thought outside the traditional lines to pay for vet bills, even the huge, eye-popping, heart-stopping unexpected veterinary expenses. We also looked at a few more mainstream ways to pay those astronomical vet bills like GoFundMe pages and pet charity grants.

If you’re facing a very steep veterinary bill, then you may want to look at a combo of some of these ideas. Like an online store with DIY and traditional products. Or maybe these dog parents have inspired something new in you? Never let what seems daunting at first be a permanent roadblock. Think outside the box for a solution. You got this!

happy woman hugs her dog after learning how to pay for vet bills

What sort of ways have you used to pay for vet bills in an untraditional way? Would you try anything different now? 

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About Terri Rodefer

Terri Rodefer is the founder of Tail Wag Wisdom, a blog focused on affordable pet care. She likes to say helping pet parents afford and love their animals even more, makes her tail wag. As a lifelong lover of all animals with a background in economics, biology, and marketing, allows Terri to bring a unique spin to pet care. 

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