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Caring for your pet when money is tight

Pets bring joy to our lives, but they also come with a fair amount of responsibility. Caring for your pet when money is tight can be stressful, but at the same time as pet owners we want to get them what they need. For example: my husband and I decided to get a puppy, then get engaged and married within a year. Talk about a budget constraint!

Thankfully, a friend gave us starter supplies—a crate, toys, bowls, and even a bag of food—for our eight-week old puppy we named Stanley. While it saved us a few hundred dollars (at least), we soon realized weddings are expensive and so are puppies!

Covering Pet Sterilization Costs

When Stanley was old enough, I called the local vet for a price on his neuter procedure. They said it would cost a few hundred dollars. However, I remembered a friend had told me about a low-cost sterilization program in our county. I called and got an appointment for a $75 procedure, way less than the previously quoted price. When the day came, I brought Stanley and they said they had vouchers for free procedures. Happy we had gotten there early and were able to get the puppy the care he needed at no cost!

So, when it comes to financial assistance with pet healthcare and veterinary bills, check local resources first, then national organizations. Here are a few to consider:

  • The Pet Fund offers financial assistance and additional resources for pet care. Ask your vet if they offer financing as many of them do.
  • I didn’t realize I could use my Care Credit for vet expenses until I asked at the office! The great part about Care Credit is that it can also be used for certain medical expenses for humans, so the whole family benefits.

Editor’s Note: Here’s a list of additional organizations that offer financial assistance with veterinary bills.

Unexpected Pet Expenses

Whether it is a mischievous puppy or an aging feline, there will come a time when you have unexpected pet expenses. The best thing to do is to plan ahead, but if that isn’t possible or if the expenses are more than anticipated, there are resources for pet parents. Whether you have a dog or cat, there are organizations that ease the burden of expenses.

Here are a few organizations to consider:

  • Brown Dog Foundation. Their tagline says it all, “Bridging the gap between the cost of medical care and saving the family pet.” Applications are accepted via their website.
  • Fairy Dog Parents. After losing their beloved dog Ladybug, the founders decided to help families who may not be able to afford to care for their aging canines.
  • Top Dog Foundation. Their mission: “To rescue, rehabilitate, and provide a loving and permanent home for dogs who are deemed unadoptable because of age and health and who would otherwise be unnecessarily euthanized.”

Planning & Prevention

My husband and I got our puppy without planning ahead and when we look back, we agree that we should have waited to get our dog. Lesson learned but we also know we don’t want to give him away just because of our poor planning. So we’ve embraced life as loving pet owners and do what we can to plan for the future.

Planning for pet care costs:

  • Pet insurance may cover costs associated with unexpected illnesses and injuries that would otherwise be a financial burden.
  • Saving for pet emergencies and expenses just as you would for childcare or vacation will alleviate some pet expense related stress.
  • Wellness measures—like cleaning your pet’s teeth—may prevent some illnesses.
  • Staying current on vaccinations and asking about location-specific disease prevention will help your pet stay healthy. (For example: We live in Arizona where valley fever and parvo, along with cases of leptospirosis, are more common. So, we take extra precautions.)

The love we give and receive from our pets is second to none, which is why we want to do what we can when it comes to caring for them even when money is tight. Whether it’s a wedding, job loss, illness, aging pet, or other reasons for financial burdens, there are resources that can help you keep your pet safe and healthy.


Anne McAuley Lopez is a professional blogger and the founder of Blogging Badass. Since 2010, she has worked with clients to create content that tells the story of their business and connects them to their target market. It could be argued that she knows entirely too much about termites, retirement planning, court reporting, Alaskan fishing and mining, and social media—which makes her a great blogger and trivia night partner. When she’s not showing off her mad skillz, Anne can be found spending time with her husband, watching romantic comedies, eating tacos, or walking her dog.

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