What kinds of financial help can I get for my vet bills?

Emergency care and end of life care for pets can be stressful and expensive. Unexpected vet bills often happen at the worst times.

There may be programs in your community that are available to help pet owners; talk to your vet to discuss the payment options and financial assistance programs you may be eligible for.

You can also contact the following organizations:

  • The Ontario SPCA offers some options with its mobile wellness & spay/neuter unit. 
  •  Your vet can apply to the Farley Foundation that assists those who are struggling financially to pay for veterinary care for their pets. Pet owners who cannot afford medical care for their sick or injured pet, and meet certain eligibility criteria can ask their veterinarian to apply on their behalf.
  • Your municipality may offer programs or assistance in your area. For example, Toronto Animal Services has an information and assistance program set up for pet owners in the city during the COVID-19 pandemic. The City of Greater Sudbury also offers a program to help local pet owners spay or neuter their pets for a reduced fee.
  • The East Villiage Animal Hospital in Kitchener has a low-income support program for pet owners.
  • Call 211 or visit 211Ontario.ca for community information and referral to programs.

Pet Insurance

Just like travel insurance or insurance for prescriptions, you may want to research your options for pet insurance. Some foster agencies offer some type of insurance for the first year when you adopt from them. Breeders may also ask for proof of insurance before allowing you to take home your new pet.

Sometimes it can be just as cost-effective to budget each month and make a savings account for pet expenses alone.

If you do decide to purchase pet insurance it’s a good idea to shop around and get the best coverage for a reasonable price. Some insurance companies offer a better rate if you are already a customer for things like tenant insurance or car insurance. You can also ask your vet for information on which companies have good prices and coverage.

Some questions you may want to ask before you buy:

  • Is there a coverage restriction on the age of the animal? Young pets generally are very healthy and don’t need to visit the vet as often, but the older they get the more they may need to be seen for different reasons.
  • Is there a maximum amount the company will payout?
  • Is there a limit on how many claims you can submit per year or in the lifetime of the pet?
  • What isn’t covered (i.e: genetic conditions)? (dogs like pugs and bulldogs often have breathing problems and this may not be covered)
  • Does the policy cover vaccines? Or a discount if proof of regular vaccination is provided.

For More Information

  • Avian and Exotic Medicine Services - These services are for birds and exotic pets which often require special care. From the Ontario Veterinary College Health Sciences Centre.
  • Ontario SPCA and Humane Society - Works to prevent cruelty to animals, the promotion of animal well-being, ending of cruel practices and reduces pet overpopulation through Spay/Neuter Services.
  • HelpingPawsTO - If you are a client of a shelter or 24-hour homeless service in Toronto and have a pet, speak with staff to access free pet services.
  • SafePet Ontario - Coordinates foster care for individuals fleeing domestic or intimate partner violence. The program provides long- or short-term fostering options for the duration of a survivor’s transition to safety.
Last updated: February 2, 2021 4006466