The most common medical claims submitted by dog owners are for surgery on benign skin masses, costing about $1,000, according to VPI Pet Insurance.
Surgery on a malignant skin mass, however, costs about $1,500 for both cats and dogs, which is more money than the 4 million Americans earning minimum wage bring home each month.
Most people view their pets as family members and would do anything to save their lives, but for most of us, money is difficult to come by.
To ensure your beloved fur-baby gets the medical attention he or she needs, these three ideas may help:
The Pet Fund
A good place to start when raising money for your pet’s medical care is The Pet Fund. The Sacramento-based nonprofit accepts tax-deductible donations from animal-loving individuals, corporations and groups, and the funds are in turn distributed directly to the veterinarians of pet owners who requested assistance.
Applicants are required to contact the organization by phone first to determine eligibility. If minimum requirements are met, you will be prompted to fill out the application material online. You’ll need to provide proof of income, a written estimate of costs from your vet and contact information for your vet. Keep in mind the process can take several weeks, so it’s not a good option for emergencies. The organization receives hundreds of calls per day, so it also may take a while for a staff member to answer the phone or get back to you.
State & Local Assistance
There are hundreds of organizations that cater specifically to pet owners within certain states and municipalities. For example, Pet Helpers of Charleston, South Carolina, provides pets with reduced-cost orthopedic surgery for those owners who qualify. The Sam Simon Foundation in Los Angeles offers free mass removal, amputations and other surgeries for pets with qualified owners. Helping Hands Affordable Veterinary Clinic in Richmond, Virginia, provides low-cost surgeries and dental care for the pets of qualified residents of the city.
Most veterinary schools also offer low-cost care for families in need. The American Veterinary Medical Association and VeterinarySchools.com are two resources to help locate and secure these services in your area.
Cases of Hip Dysplasia
Labrador retrievers are the most popular breed in America and have been for the past 23 years, according to the American Kennel Club. German shepherds are also near the top of the list. Unfortunately, these two breeds are highly susceptible to hip dysplasia, a genetic abnormality that causes severe pain and discomfort. Rapid weight gain in puppies (from overfeeding) and lack of exercise can exacerbate the condition in dogs that are already at high-risk.
The average cost for hip replacement surgery, the most effective treatment for the condition, can exceed $5,000 in some cases. One way to lower costs is to obtain a veterinary insurance policy from Embrace when your pet is young. The company is one of few to cover genetic disorders and will reimburse upwards of 80 percent of total costs.
If surgery is out of the question, anti-inflammatory drugs such as Rimadyl, Deramax and Zubrin may reduce the pain. But if your dog cries when getting up from sitting or all of a sudden can’t play with the kids anymore, surgery will likely be the sole remedy.
Consider crowdfunding the surgery on platforms like FundRazr. Or, if you receive regular payments from a structured settlement or annuity, consider selling your future payments to a company like J.G. Wentworth and using the lump sum of cash for the surgery. An organization like Labrador Life Line may also be able to help locate funds for surgery.
Make sure to discuss all options with your vet before administering any medications or pursuing treatment.