Paying for senior pet care: Updated January 2023
The Elderly Pet Organization recommends that all pet owners plan for your pet’s senior care, by taking steps to pay for these unexpected vet bills, before you are caught off guard. In this article, paying for your senior pet care, we’ll discuss several options available to pet owners to help when the unexpected occurs.
Planning for your senior pet’s care
Your pet is aging day by day, and before you know it, your pet will become a senior pet. In fact, what most people do not realize is that according the American Veterinary Medical Association, a small dog or cat is considered a senior pet at age 7 and a large dog is considered a senior as early as age 5 or 6. One of the best ways to pay for your senior pet’s care is by planning ahead and purchasing pet insurance. You simply cannot afford to wait until your pet becomes ill to get pet insurance because pet insurance will not cover a pre existing condition.
We highly recommend that you consider a pet insurance plan for your pet before you are caught with an unexpected or overwhelming vet bill. We’ve partnered with several leading pet insurance companies who can help you select the plan that is right for your budget. If your pet is currently healthy with no issues, then pet insurance is highly recommended. Read our article on Pet Insurance Facts to learn more about pet insurance.
If you cannot afford pet insurance, but you feel that your pet would be eligible, the Elderly Pet Organization makes available a small number of micro grants to help pay pet insurance premiums for at risk senior pets. Should you wish to apply for a micro grant from the Elderly Pet Organization, visit our Grants for Senior Pets page.
If your pet already has a pre-existing condition
If your pet already has a pre-existing condition, which may make them ineligible for pet insurance, another option might be discounted medical care such as the plans offered through Pet Assure discount medical program. To learn more about this discount program for pets with pre-existing conditions, read our article on what to do if your pet has a pre-existing condition.
If your pet has a pre-existing condition and treatment is needed, there are a few other options to consider.
1. Talk with your vet
Vet’s care about the pets they treat and if you are having difficulty paying for your pet’s care, your vet may be able to offer you a discount or payment plan to help with paying for your pet’s care. If you are a client in good standing, your vet may be willing to negotiate a payment plan that is affordable.
2. Get another opinion
Another vet may offer a different perspective with different options for treating your pet, that may be less expensive. Other veterinary hospitals may also charge less for the treatment your pet needs. You can also visit a veterinary college or find a vet-in-training who may be able to perform a procedure or treatment at a lower cost.
3. Apply for CareCredit
CareCredit is a great option for paying for vet care. CareCredit offers a no interest option over a 6 month period for vet bills. CareCredit works just like a regular credit card, but is typically much easier to get than a regular credit card, and allows you to spread out the payments over the course of 6 months before interest is incurred.
To find out if your vet accepts CareCredit or to apply for an account, visit the CareCredit website.
4. Utilize Pet Insurance
Pet insurance was once a luxury that few could afford. In the past, plans had limits and were hardly worth the cost of premiums to pay for pet care. In addition, medical care was once somewhat limited and pet care options were not as extensive as they are today. Today, pet insurance is an absolute must for pet owners, especially for senior pets. Pets are living longer with conditions that were once terminal. Conditions like cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, etc. are now in many cases very treatable and pet’s can have a longer life span even with serious illnesses than they ever could before.
The caveat: pet insurance must be in place before a pet becomes unwell with a certain condition or ailment, so planning for your pet’s care is important as they age. Pet insurance can be affordable if you start early before anything comes up. Read about pet insurance facts to learn more about why pet insurance is a good idea for older pets.
5. Get Financial Help
There are local and national non-profit organizations who may be able to assist you with paying for your pet’s care, if you qualify. You can contact your local ASPCA in your community to inquire about funding that may be available.
The following national organizations provide financial assistance to pet owners in need. They are independent and have their own set of rules and guidelines, therefore, you will have to investigate each one separately to determine if you qualify for assistance:
- The Pet Fund
- American Veterinary Medical Foundation
- Bow Wow Buddies
- Canine Cancer Awareness
- Frankie’s Friends
- Handicapped Pet Foundation
- The Mosby Fund
- The Onyx & Breezy Foundation
- Pets of the Homeless
- RedRover Relief
- Shakespeare Animal Fund
- Waggle Foundation
- My Pet Child
For pets with cancer, the following sources of assistance are available:
- Joshua Louis Animal Cancer Foundation
- Land of Pure Gold Foundation
- Magic Bullet Fund
- The Riedel & Cody Fund
If you have explored other options, and are still having a hard time making ends meet to pay for your pet’s care, a fundraiser may help cover some of the expenses for your pet’s care. Have a yard sale or bake sale, offer your services to friends, family and neighbors, set up an online fundraiser such as through GoFundMe or Waggle and ask people to donate.
Caring for your senior pet is your responsibility and your pet is counting on you to help them deal with whatever ails them. There are many options available to you to successfully care for your senior pet and see them through their illness.
With your help, we can keep senior pets out of shelters and place them in loving, caring homes. Your gift can help save senior pets from an uncertain future.