Need Help Paying Vet Bills?

There are a number of different ways to afford veterinary care for your pet, including: payment plans; reduced-fee care; online consultations; crowd funding; and organizations that cover or subsidize medical expenses. We list all of these below.

Start by working with your veterinarian. Ask your primary vet whether any less expensive treatment option is available. Compare medical costs. Try to arrange a payment plan or see if your vet is associated with CareCredit, VetBilling, or the AAHA Helping Pets Fund.  Ask whether the practice would accept services in place of cash. Perhaps an extra hand at the reception desk or in the kennel is needed at times.

Consider going to a vet in a less expensive area or locate a veterinary school with a clinic or subsidies for low-income clients. The American Veterinary Medical Association has a list of schools by state here.

Explore animal welfare organizations that offer help to pets needing medical care. These funding programs typically have specific application procedures, eligibility requirements and may be limited to certain breeds, species, diseases, etc. We list a number of these below.

You may also want to check to search for financial assistance, food pantries, medical care, and other free or reduced-cost help by zip code.

If you want to check if your pet needs emergency care, know more about at-home care for less serious medical issues or have other questions, you can try online veterinarians, such as JustAnswer or Vetster. While these aren’t substitutes for in-person care, they may save you an unnecessary and expensive emergency vet visit.

Wondering about pet insurance? First, if you don’t already have insurance, it won’t help with your immediate expenses, but also there are a few things you should check out in any insurance policy. Most have higher premiums and shrinking coverage as your pet ages, a limited amount of coverage each year, and no coverage for pre-existing conditions. A few do, but only after a year.

Finally, if you need to raise funds fast, there are options – not great ones, but still options. You could sell items on Ebay or Letgo or other selling apps. Ask your employer if they have any assistance for situations like yours. Talk to your bank or credit union about a loan. Or as a very last resort, see if you can get additional credit on a credit card.

Helpful links to various types of financial resources follow, starting with payment plans and crowd sourcing sites.


  • CareCredit
    Short-term, interest-free payment plans. Check with your veterinarian for availability.
    Interest-free payment plans through veterinary practices participating with
  • Pawp/Charity Paws
    A pet insurance alternative that allows you to pay a small monthly fee for unlimited virtual calls with a veterinarian. Includes an emergency fund up to $3,000 for emergency vet visits that they approve.
  • Waggle
    A pet-dedicated crowdfunding platform to pay for medical costs of pets in crisis. Your veterinarian needs to be a vet member, so he or she can reach out to Waggle to create a fundraising page. Through the Waggle Foundation, your pet may also be chosen for a grant or sponsorship.
  • CoFund My Pet
    A crowdfunding service with funds raised put into a CoFund My Pet veterinary debit card.
  • Free Animal Doctor 
    Another crowdsourcing fund to help pay vet bills.


  • American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Helping Pets Fund 
    AAHA-accredited veterinary practices identify and apply for clients facing financial hardship who need help affording their pet’s medical care.
  • Veterinary Care Charitable Fund 
    Funds through eligible veterinary practices to help with medical care for disaster relief, veterans’ dogs and service dogs, low-income elderly, or domestic abuse victims.
  • Dylan’s Hearts 
    Assists with veterinary bills for urgent medical care that offers a good prognosis for the pet. Applicant must have a diagnosis and treatment plan from their vet before applying.
  • For The Love of Alex 
    Funding for emergency and life-threatening situations.
  • Hearts United for Animals 
    Help with emergency medical cases; also a sanctuary and no-kill shelter.
  • Help-A-Pet 
    Financial assistance to pet owners who are unable to pay for veterinary services, medicine, or medical supplies for their sick or injured pet. Particular interest in pets of the physically and mentally challenged, the elderly on fixed incomes, and children of the working poor.
  • Brown Dog Foundation 
    Funds for pet guardians in temporary financial crisis whose pet faces a treatable, life-threatening condition.
  • The Onyx & Breezy Foundation 
    Supports a number of programs, which includes help for pets with cancer, geriatric care, or other medical hardships.
  • Hope Fund of Frankie’s Friend 
    Supports pets that would have a good prognosis from a single intervention for long-term recovery to a normal quality of life. Must be recommended by attending veterinarian.
  • Paws 4 A Cure 
    Financial assistance for any injury or illness to pet parents who can’t afford veterinary care.
  • Mosby Foundation  (based in Virginia)
    Assists in the care of critically sick, injured, abused and neglected dogs.
  • Bowwow Buddies 
    Funds to individuals struggling to cover their veterinary bills for serious ailments and to rescues and shelters needing assistance to cover medical treatment for dogs awaiting adoption.
  • Pet Assistance, Inc.
    Subsidizes medical expenses for emergency or life-threatening care for pets of people who have always cared for their pets but can’t afford an emergency problem. Works only with independent, private hospitals and doesn’t offer help for recently adopted pets.
  • Pets of the Homeless 
    Emergency care, wellness clinics, pet food, shelters allowing pets, and other resources for pets and their homeless people.
  • The Pet Fund 
    Financial assistance to owners of domestic animals who need non-basic, non-urgent veterinary care, such as cancer treatment, heart disease, chronic conditions, endocrine diseases, eye diseases, etc.
  • Red Rover Relief Grants
    Helps fund specific and immediate emergency vet care for destitute animals suffering from acute, life-threatening injuries or illnesses. Red Rover also offers assistance to victims of domestic abuse and their pets.
    Makes spay/neuter services affordable to those who might not otherwise spay/neuter their pets.
  • Friends of Animals
    Provides certificates for low-cost spay/neuter services at a veterinarian’s office near you.
  • Best Friends 
    A great source for finding financial assistance organizations and online advice.


Breed-specific rescue groups may have information about additional help for particular breeds. You can find these groups by visiting The Shelter Pet Project and choosing “shelter” in the search field.




  • Cats in Crisis 
    Grants for cats with kidney disease, thyroid disease or cardiac conditions, or neurological conditions or mobility impairments such as Cerebellar hypoplasia, paraplegia, and limb malformations.
  • Feline Veterinary Emergency Assistance Program 
    Medical costs for life-threatening illness or injury. Limited to recipients of State Medicaid, Medicare, or Social Security only income; a public assistance program; or unemployment benefits.
  • Kobi’s Fund 
    Funding for cats that are diagnosed with Vaccine Associated Sarcoma (VAS). Part of the nonprofit Feline Veterinary Emergency Assistance.
    Affordable spay/neuter services.

Washington, DC Metro Area Resources

Pet pantries in the DC, Northern VA, and MD suburbs are listed on the Humane Rescue Alliance website  at


  • PETS-DC 
    Veterinary care assistance programs for senior, disabled or ill pet owners.
  • Humane Rescue Alliance 
    Vaccination clinics (with reduced cost shots; microchips; dewormers; flea, tick, and heartworm preventatives) and pet pantry for DC residents.