As we’ve said before, pet insurance can be quite a significant investment – according to Defaqto, it’s an average of £156 a year to cover a cat and £336 to cover a dog (and that doesn’t include rare breeds, pre-existing conditions or older pet). So, it’s not surprising to find that many people – particularly those on low income or struggling to make ends meet – have no option but to leave their pets uninsured. But what if their four-legged friend gets injured or ill? The average vet bill – according to MoneySupermarket.com – is around £300. That rises to £1,500 if any form of surgery is needed. If you’ve struggled to find the insurance money, those fees are far too high. Luckily, there are ways to find vet care on low income.
Emergency vet care on low income
If your pet suddenly becomes unwell – or is involved in an accident – you should take them straight to the vet. Regardless of whether you can afford the treatment or not, vets are obliged to help. As part of their RCVS (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) registration, sort of like a Hippocratic Oath for vets, vets must provide emergency treatment to a level that will ease pain and suffering. This can mean giving treatment at a basic level until you’ve agreed the next steps. You will likely have to pay for these steps, but there’s more help available – more on that in the next section. In the most tragic of circumstances, the vets will put the animal to sleep free of charge to end their suffering.
The important thing is to be honest with your vet, they’re animal-lovers and caring medical professionals, but they’re not charities. Often, being upfront about how much you can afford will result in a special arrangement or repayment plan with the vet, especially if they can see how much the pet means to you. In other words, if you need emergency vet care on low income, don’t hesitate to take your pet to your nearest vet.
Non-emergency vet care on low income – your options:
The RSPCA – in addition to preventing animal cruelty – run a range of clinics and veterinary practices across the UK, which makes them a great option for getting your pet treatment when you’re in a pinch. They offer heavily subsidised fees on consultations, drugs and procedures to those on low income. In fact, they’ve got a number of programmes designed for vet care on low income.
Each practice has its own eligibility criteria, so check with your local branch. If you receive income-related employment support allowance, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, pension credit, universal credit or income support, you usually qualify.
Blue Cross Animal Hospitals
The Blue Cross is a charity that offers means-tested discounts on treatments for pet owners that are on low-income (or, for whatever reason, are unable to pay). Most of their clinics are in London, but there are a few dotted around the country too. The good thing about Blue Cross Animal Hospitals is that they also offer discounts on vaccinations. Microchips and neutering are discounted too – making them the perfect choice for cover-all vet care on low income.
The Dogs Trust
If your pooch is in need of treatment, but you’re on low income, you should consider approaching The Dogs Trust. They’ve built a whole programme catered to providing vet care on low income (including homeless people). For more information on their low-cost plans, head to The Dogs Trust website.
Like The Dogs Trust for moggies, Cats Protection offer financial assistance for the cost of spaying and neutering cats (although, not for other veterinary care). If you’re looking for low-income friendly options to care for your cat, you’re probably better seeking the assistance of the RSPCA or Blue Cross Animal Hospitals.
Worried about finding vet care on low income? It might be worth considering taking out a low-cost pet insurance policy. We’ve written an all-you-need-to-know guide to pet insurance, why not check it out?