9 Ways to Get Cheap or Free Veterinary Care

One day, I noticed my puppy was acting strangely. She walked a few steps, stumbled, fell over and slowly got back up, only to fall over again. I realized her tummy was extremely bloated.

I rushed her to the vet. The vet examined her for a few minutes and started to chuckle. Then my puppy let out a bellowing burp, and the vet actually started to laugh.

When he asked me if I had left dog food out, I remembered the large bowl on the kitchen floor for my other dog. My puppy had 4 cups of food in her half-cup stomach.

It wasn’t serious — although bloat can be a very serious condition — but I wasn’t laughing when I got the bill for $100.

Between routine care and those little surprises, your pet’s medical bills can get expensive. Here are some ways to find less expensive — or even 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.
  • Pet-proofing your home, such as keeping dangerous foods out of the reach of pets and avoiding bringing toxic plants into the house.

9. Compare treatments

If your pet has a serious medical condition, the most expensive treatment may not be the best course of action. Ask your vet about treatment options and costs, as well as the likely prognosis for your pet.

Karen Datko contributed to this report.

How to earn $30 in less than 30 seconds

Earn extra money by using Rakuten (formerly known as Ebates) — a site that gets you cash back at more than 2,500 stores. As a bonus for joining Rakuten between now and Aug. 6, 2020, you'll earn $30 when you spend at least $30 shopping online through Rakuten within the first 90 days. Start earning cash back and claim a free $30 bonus today.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
The 14 Most Deadly Car Models
The 14 Most Deadly Car Models

These vehicles are involved in fatal accidents at least twice as often as the average car.

3 Costly Social Security Mistakes That Women Make
3 Costly Social Security Mistakes That Women Make

Women face unique challenges when planning for retirement and making these mistakes can result in a skimpier retirement.

5 Memberships That Offer Car Insurance Discounts
5 Memberships That Offer Car Insurance Discounts

These discounts may save you hundreds — even thousands — of dollars a year.

Drivers Give These 5 Car Insurers the Highest Marks
Drivers Give These 5 Car Insurers the Highest Marks

One company claimed the top ranking in several categories.

9 Affordable Ways to Make Your Home Look Expensive
9 Affordable Ways to Make Your Home Look Expensive

These products from Amazon add elegance to your home without the expense.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?

Two factors determine how much money is coming to you.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling
20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling

You probably don’t need a year’s supply of toilet paper to survive an outbreak, but consider stocking up on these items.

5 Household Disinfectants That Can Destroy the Coronavirus
5 Household Disinfectants That Can Destroy the Coronavirus

You likely already have some of these products at home.

16 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
16 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

22 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store
22 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store

The dollar store has great bargains on these purchases.

6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman
6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman

Beware: The self-proclaimed personal finance expert has a track record that suggests more sizzle than steak.

America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise
America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise

Have you heard of this appliance manufacturer?

The Top 11 Jobs That Employers Want Retirees to Do
The Top 11 Jobs That Employers Want Retirees to Do

Tired of age discrimination? Businesses are clamoring for older workers to fill certain roles.

This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked
This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked

The Social Security Administration is not helping certain people get money to which they are entitled, a report says.

9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline
9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline

Forget expensive specialty products. Good ol’ petroleum jelly can address many common annoyances.

Getting These 2 Shots Could Reduce Your Risk of Dementia
Getting These 2 Shots Could Reduce Your Risk of Dementia

These vaccines may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to 40%.

19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret
19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret

Think twice before buying these things.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing food supply. Is your pantry prepared?

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

8 of the Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar Store
8 of the Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar Store

Not everything sold at dollar stores is a great bargain or a safe purchase. Here’s our list of products to avoid.

41 Things You Should Never Buy
41 Things You Should Never Buy

Some purchases are just plain dumb. Give yourself — and your budget — a break. Don’t spend money on this stuff.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

7 Ways to Shop at Costco Without a Membership
7 Ways to Shop at Costco Without a Membership

You don’t necessarily need to join to get in on the warehouse store’s savings.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.