How to Pay for Unexpected or Emergency Vet Bills

customer concerned about sudden vet bill and pet expenses

Pets are beloved members of our family; we would go to no end to help our furry friends live happy, healthy lives.

Sometimes pet parenthood includes taking on vet bills that strain our finances. In fact, American pet owners report spending around $700 annually on costs related to routine wellness, vaccinations, and surgical vet visits. While the costs of veterinary care can be overwhelming, proper planning can save you both money and stress in the long run. Read on for five ways to pay for unexpected or emergency vet bills.

How much do emergency vet visits cost?

According to the American Pet Product Association (APPA), it’s estimated that 1 in 3 households with a pet will need emergency treatment each year. The average cost for unexpected veterinary care for dogs and cats ranges between $800 - $1500, and if your pet needs surgery, you can expect to see numbers significantly higher than that.

How to Pay for Vet Bills

Since vet financing is not one-size-fits-all, we’ve put together four solutions to help you decide which one is best for you and your family.

Emergency Fund

If you haven’t started an emergency fund yet, this is your sign to do so. A Bankrate survey found only 39 percent of Americans have enough money in savings to cover the cost of a $1,000 expense. An emergency fund can be the difference between successfully paying off unexpected vet expenses and completely derailing your finances.

Ideally, you want to have at least three months of living expenses saved in your emergency fund. While this can be overwhelming at first, you have to start somewhere. Take a look at your finances and determine how much you can commit to saving each paycheck and stick to it. If you put aside $100 each paycheck, you will have saved $1,200 for your emergency fund within a year; that’s quite the safety net if you need to make an emergency trip to the vet.

Credit Card

If you need funds now, consider using a credit card. Credit cards are a favorable option for unexpected expenses, and sometimes you can find cards with a low introductory annual percentage rate (APR) for a certain period of time. If you decide to swipe the card, you should have a plan for how you will pay it off – and make sure you leave yourself wiggle room for a few extra fees. Carrying excess credit card debt can be expensive if you don’t have a plan to pay it off and can easily derail your financial health.

A bonus of using a credit card for expenses is earning rewards points. Some people even save their cashback rewards for emergency situations or circumstances where they might need a little extra cash.

Personal Loan

A personal loan is another alternative vet financing solution if you want to break up your payments with a predictable interest rate over time. While some vets and animal hospitals offer their own financing programs, the rates can often be higher than you would find with a traditional lender – and when you’re in an emergency situation, you’re probably not in the market to shop around for the best interest rate.

Personal loans can generally be approved and funded within 24 hours, making them a solid option for financing emergency vet visits. The interest rates on personal loans are typically more favorable than the interest rates of a credit card, and making your loan payments on time can help boost your credit score.

Pet Insurance

Another option to pay for veterinary care expenses is pet insurance. Like human health insurance policies, pet insurance has deductibles, premiums, maximum limits, and exclusions. You can usually expect insurance to cover of 80 percent of the approved cost. Pet insurance follows a reimbursement-based model, so you pay for the service in full at the vet and then submit a claim for reimbursement.

Pet insurance can range between $11 to $70 a month, depending on the animal’s species, breed, age, weight, pre-existing conditions, and where you live. Policies for dogs are typically more expensive than cats, and are cheaper for younger and smaller animals.

No one likes to think about their pet needing emergency medical care – or the costs associated with it – however, accidents happen and you will likely make more trips to the vet as your pet ages. Starting early and stashing away savings each month is ideal, but we have solutions to help if that’s not an option for you and your family. If you want to start an emergency fund or apply for lending, visit a location near you today.

About the Author, Vinny Sagrani: Vinny has worked in the banking industry for more than 15 years, and currently serves as the Branch Manager of our Ormond Beach location. He is also a community activist volunteering for many local organizations like the Boys and Girls Club of Volusia, the Checkered Flag Committee, and Halifax Health.
  1. How much do pet owners spend on vet bills? - CBS News
  2. Are you prepared for a pet emergency? Most Americans are not (
  3. Few Americans have enough savings to cover a $1,000 emergency (
  4. How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost? | U.S. News (

  • This content is general in nature and provided for informational use only. Content may be used in connection with the advertising and marketing of products and services offered by SouthState Bank, N.A. and its subsidiaries and affiliates. This is not to be considered legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You should seek individualized advice from personal financial, legal, tax and/or other professionals, as appropriate depending on the specific facts of your situation. We do not make any warranties as to the completeness or accuracy of this information and have no liability for your use of this information.

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