We all want the best for our beloved pets, but comprehensive veterinary care can be expensive. Making the decision between what is best for our pets and what we can afford is often a struggle for many concerned pet parents. There are programs that your veterinarian may offer that can make these decisions easier and ensure that your pet lives a long, happy and healthy life.
Wellness plans cover routine preventive care for your dog or cat. This is not insurance. By offering a substantial discount on these services, veterinarians who offer this option reward the pet parent for providing the best preventive care for their pet, and these services and can even be divided into affordable monthly payments. These discounts can be up to 50 percent of the regular cost of the preventive care services such as biannual comprehensive examinations, vaccinations, parasite prevention, routine diagnostic testing and spays/neuters or dental care.
Pet insurance is typically offered by national third-party companies to cover the non-routine costs associated with pet ownership, such as unforeseen illness and injuries. Many plans are available to the pet parent and can be purchased through monthly or yearly premiums that can vary greatly depending on the quality of the plan and services that are covered. The pet insurance will typically reimburse the pet owner for a fixed amount after the services are provided by the veterinarian and, much like insurance for humans, one must read the fine print to understand what is covered.
Injuries and illnesses are often unexpected and happen at the most inopportune times. Many veterinarians accept Care Credit, a payment option that can be used for family dental care or veterinary care. You can apply for Care Credit online or by filling out an application via phone in the pet hospital, which will immediately tell you if you are accepted. Many payment terms exist including regular monthly interest, as with a credit card, or extended payment options with zero interest to allow you to pay for the unexpected veterinary costs over time.
Several crowdfunding sites allow people to raise money for personal reasons, including pet care. YouCaring and GoFundMe are just two of the many crowdfunding sites that allow for friends, family and pet lovers everywhere to make donations to assist those in need for the care of their pet.
Some veterinarians have charitable “Good Samaritan” funds that allow them to provide care for patients in need when the pet's families cannot afford the care. Often, pet parents who are in a position to do so will make donations toward these funds to help those less fortunate. Veterinarians may choose to give back to the families in the communities they serve by providing discounted services in some situations. Occasionally, pet hospitals partner with charitable trusts to ensure that their services are available to everyone, even those who can’t afford it. Many pet hospitals work directly with a trust that allows them to donate and provide discounted care to the patients most in need. Often, certain criteria must be met to determine eligibility for these funds to be offered.
Dr. Trevor W. Ashley is a USDA-accredited veterinarian licensed to practice in Maryland and the owner of Lake Shore Pet Hospital in Pasadena. Lake Shore Pet Hospital offers wellness plans, accepts Care Credit, and works with clients who have questions about pet insurance to help them choose a plan that works best for them. Lake Shore Pet Hospital also works with the American Veterinary Medical Foundation’s Veterinary Care Charitable Fund to ensure that the pets of Pasadena are provided the best care possible at the best value for their families. The Veterinary Care Charitable Fund of Lake Shore provides services to the pets most in need throughout Pasadena. For more information, go to www.lakeshorepethospital.com and click on the AVMF link under “Patient Reviews.”