Ways to Get Cheap or Free Veterinary Care
1. Look for low-cost alternatives
Local animal welfare organizations, rescue groups and shelters often offer low-cost vaccinations, spaying and neutering. They also offer other routine care.
Check out Petfinder’s animal welfare group search tool, or the ASPCA’s low-cost spay/neuter program search tool.
2. Try a veterinary school
Veterinary schools are typically cheaper than veterinary clinics and animal hospitals. While procedures are performed by students, they are supervised by a vet.
Check out the American Veterinary Medical Association’s list of accredited veterinary colleges for a location near you.
3. Shop around
Veterinarians’ prices can vary widely. For example, when I was looking for a new vet in New Orleans, I called six different clinics. The base cost of a visit ranged from $35 to $75. So, check around.
4. Ask your vet for help
If your pet needs an expensive medical treatment or you’re struggling to cover the cost of care, discuss the situation with your veterinarian. Some vets offer payment plans or discounts to their steady clients.
5. Find a charity
If your vet can’t help — and you can’t afford an expensive and necessary medical procedure — you may be able to get help from a charity.
The Humane Society of the United States has a list of organizations that help with the cost of certain types of medical care for pets.
6. Look for cheaper prescriptions
If you’re buying prescription medication directly from your vet, you may be overpaying. Compare prices online at sites like:
The pharmacies of retail chains like Sam’s Club and Walmart also carry some pet meds. You can also use PharmacyChecker to compare prices.
Be careful when buying pet medications online, and deal only with reputable sites. Finally, ask your vet if he or she will match the best price you find.
7. Keep an eye out for specials
Just like human-centered businesses, vets offer specials. My vet has offered a 20% discount for new patients and $25 off dental cleanings.
Be sure to check out veterinary websites and social media accounts for deals.
8. Be proactive to protect your pet’s health
Take precautions to reduce your pet’s chances of requiring expensive medical care. Such steps include:
- Spaying or neutering, which can help lower the risk of some diseases in dogs and cats.
- Annual wellness checkups. Also, keep up with the vaccination schedule, and make sure you discuss heartworm prevention with your vet.
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