Tips for Affording Veterinary Care


(The following information is courtesy of the Humane Society of the United States)

It could happen to anyone with a pet: You’ve always managed to give your pet the medical care she deserves, but because of unexpected circumstances, you’re faced with vet expenses that are far beyond your ability to afford them.

No owner wants a pet to suffer because medical care is out of reach. Financial aid is out there, and there are steps you can take to cover an emergency vet bill.

Please remember that, depending on the severity of your pet’s illness or injury, you may still lose your pet even after great expense. Discuss the prognosis and treatment options with your veterinarian, including whether surgery or treatment would just cause your companion discomfort without preserving a life of good quality.

Pet health insurance

It may not help in the current crisis, but you should consider purchasing pet health insurance for future medical needs.

Cash in

Explore ways to bring in some extra cash.

  • Have a yard sale. One’s man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
  • If your birthday or a holiday is near, ask for cash in lieu of a present.
  • Sell things on an online auction site such as eBay.
  • Consider getting a second or part-time job or working for a temp agency.
  • Ask your employer for a salary advance.

Raise your own funds or get temporary credit

If you have a credit card, ask for a limit increase or talk with your bank about loan options. Many veterinarians accept Care Credit, which is a credit card specifically for health care expenses, including your pet’s. Care Credit offers multiple payment options that may help you through your pet’s crisis. You can find out more information about Care Credit and fill out an application on their website. Consumers should take care to understand the terms of any credit they accept.

Groups like IMOM and RedRover also allow you to apply for financial aid if you can’t afford veterinary care for your pet.

Or, raise your own funds! Fundraising platforms like GiveForward enable you to create a personal fundraising page to raise funds for pet medical care. They charge a small percentage of funds raised.

Financial assistance

There are many animal welfare organizations that can help out with vet bills, either with low-cost care, loans, or grants. Here are a few:

Dog breed-specific veterinary care assistance programs

Special Needs Dobermans
Labrador Harbor
Labrador Lifeline
WestieMed (West Highland White Terriers)
Pyramedic Trust (Great Pyrenees)

Veterinary care assistance for working/service dogs

Helping Harley Cancer Treatment Grant
Assistance Dogs Special Allowance Program

More resources

Still looking for help?

  • Contact your local animal shelter. Some shelters have onsite low-cost veterinary clinics or work with local vets who are willing to reduce their charges. Some also have veterinary loan or grant programs.
  • There are some organizations that may offer assistance locally (by state or community). See state-by-state listings »
  • If you purchased your dog from a responsible breeder, check your contract to see if there is a health guarantee that covers your pet’s ailment.

Vaccines & Your Cat — Be Aware!

The following information is from the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website:


Why do I need to vaccinate my kitten/cat?

Vaccines help your cat’s immune system fight infections from disease-causing micro-organisms.  The vaccine prepares the cat’s immune system to fight subsequent infections much more quickly and efficiently, thus either preventing infection or decreasing the severity of disease.
Kittens are even more susceptible to disease than adult cats because their immune systems are not as well developed. However, maternal antibodies (obtained through their mother’s first milk) help the kitten’s immune system fight disease until they mature and are able to create their own immune response. These antibodies help fight infection but also interfere with vaccination efforts. Thus, vaccines typically need to be administered in a series to ensure adequate coverage.
Every cat faces different infectious challenges depending on age, health status, lifestyle, and environment. This is why it is so important to work with your veterinarian to plan a vaccine protocol that is best for your cat.

What are feline injection-site sarcomas?

Although rare, feline injection-site sarcomas (FISS) are cancerous tumors that can arise following injections. Because vaccines are among the most common injections cats receive, vaccination is sometimes a concern for pet owners who might have heard about injection-site sarcomas.
The role of adjuvants (an adjuvant is a substance added to the vaccine to increase the effectiveness) is thought to be associated with these scary tumors.  None of the vaccines administered at Rita Ranch Pet Hospital are adjuvented — this is why the feline rabies vaccine must be given annually, rather than every 3 years.  Injection-site sarcomas are considered to be a rare development. Reports indicate that they occur at a rate of about 1 case per 10,000 to 30,000 vaccinations.

Why should I vaccinate my cat if a sarcoma can develop?

Vaccines are administered to protect cats against diseases they can easily acquire and those that could have fatal consequences if your cat is not protected. In the case of rabies, it is imperative to follow the vaccination rules your state has in place to prevent animal health and public health risks from this almost invariably fatal disease. In Pima County, all cats must have a current rabies vaccination by law.  Talk to your veterinarian about which vaccinations are the most important for your cat.

My cat has a lump where a vaccine has been given – what do I do now?

Contact your veterinarian if the lump persists for more than three weeks or seems to be getting larger.  A small, firm swelling under the skin is normal and may develop at the site of recent vaccination .  It should start to disappear within a couple of weeks.

How long after vaccination can sarcomas develop?

The time interval between vaccine administration and development of a sarcoma can vary tremendously; they have been seen to occur anywhere between 2 months to 10 years after vaccination.

What can we do to prevent injection-site sarcomas from happening in cats?

It is important to tailor vaccine protocols to the individual patient in order to protect your pet’s health and public health, while also preventing unnecessary vaccinations and opportunities for injection-site sarcoma development. Your veterinarian is the best resource for working with you to make these decisions with your cat’s age, health status, and lifestyle in mind.

Where can I learn more about vaccines and feline health?


Purchasing Pet Medications Online

Thinking about purchasing your heartworm preventative through an online pharmacy? While most clients mention lower cost as the reason they purchase products online, you’d be surprised how little a difference there is between online pharmacies and us.


For example: HeartGard Brown (51-100lbs) 12 doses

  • Online Pet Pharmacies = about $103 plus shipping
  • Rita Ranch Pet Hospital Price = $93 plus a $12 mail-in rebate — not to mention we’ll fill out all the paperwork and mail it in for you :)

If your pet is due for their heartworm blood test (our protocol is to test every other year if the pet is on HeartGard consistently and lives in AZ full-time) we offer an additional $20 discount if they get their blood test & HeartGard refill on the same day.  Discounts combined, for a large dog it might only cost $61 for a year’s supply!

The most important factor… The company that makes HeartGard will only guarantee their product if purchased through a licensed veterinarian.  They will potentially cover the cost of heartworm disease treatment if there were to be a medication failure, but only if the medication was purchased through the proper channels.

Some online pet pharmacies may also sell illegally-imported or expired medications for pets.  We also cannot guarantee that these medications were stored & shipped under the proper temperatures to ensure efficacy.  Please keep these things in mind when using online pharmacies!

HELP! My dog is terrified of storms!


For some of our canine friends, a thunderstorm can be a highly traumatic event. Dogs with thunderstorm phobia can engage in a variety of behaviors including:

  • Hiding under beds or furniture, or in closets, bathrooms, etc. (typically small enclosed spaces)
  • Intense barking, whining, and/or howling
  • Pacing
  • Drooling
  • Sweaty Paws
  • Trembling
  • Destructive behavior located at exit points – gnawing at window sills or ripping drapes, chewing door frames, etc.
  • Attempts to escape the house (breaking through windows)
  • Aggression

Safety is a key concern with dogs who suffer from thunder phobia, as these dogs can easily injure themselves in attempts to escape the house or hide.

Why do Dogs Fear Thunderstorms?

Scientists are not completely sure what the specific cause of thunderstorm phobia in dogs is. Some dogs may be reacting to the noise, others to the lightning, or a combination of both. Others theorize that dogs can sense changes in the air prior to the beginning of a storm and this can be disturbing to them. Some dogs with thunderstorm phobia only react to storms with thunder and/or lightning but are fine with just a regular rain storm. The Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association printed a survey in 2001 of dog owners with thunder-phobic dogs and found some interesting results: Some breeds appear to be more prevalent among thunder-phobic dogs such as herding dogs and hounds. Rescued dogs had a higher incidence of thunder phobia than the rest of the dog population surveyed.

What to Do if You Have a Thunder Phobic Dog

Safety is a key concern with dogs who suffer from thunder phobia, as these dogs can easily injure themselves in attempts to escape the house or hide. They can also bolt from the house and run away because of their intense fear.

There are anti-anxiety medications that you can discuss with your veterinarian that can be helpful with dogs with thunderstorm phobia. You can use behavior modification to do “systematic desensitization.” What this means it that you will slowly expose your dog to the stimulus they are afraid of in small amounts, and build this up over time until they are relaxed in the face of a full-fledged storm. For example, you can purchase recordings of thunderstorms and play them at a very low volume and rewarding your dog with treats, praise, etc. when they are calm.

Using “natural” options such as Rescue Remedy, valerian and melatonin are reported to be useful by some owners, as well as using the Comfort Zone Dog Appeasing Pheromone diffusers, sprays and collars. Another option is the Anxiety Wrap, which is a sort of “dog coat” that holds your dog firmly inside and can cause some dogs to become calmer, somewhat similar to the idea behind “bundling” crying babies. Likewise the “Calming Cap” by Premier has been found to be helpful and works along the same concept as the “blinders” you see on horses. Another option is using gentle massage on your dog. Touch is a form of massage that can help to reduce stress. Stroking and brushing your dog gently can be helpful as well depending on the dog. The important thing to remember is to be gentle, calm and patient with your dog.

Dogs who have thunderstorm phobia are not being “disobedient” – they are truly fearful and in a state of panic and are looking for your guidance to help them deal with this traumatic event.

Source: The Association of Professional Dog Trainers —