Owning and caring for a dog can be expensive. Just like humans, our animals need routine health care which has to be budgeted for. If a dog becomes ill, particularly with something like cancer, this cost can increase exponentially. It is good to know the various options and strategies that you as an owner have to help pay for some of these incurred medical costs. In this article we outline the pros and cons of crowdfunding and potential tips for success.
Please note that throughout this article examples of organizations are given. This is by no means an endorsement but serves as an example. Please carefully investigate these organizations or whomever you choose to work with, ensuring they are the right fit for your family.
Vet Bills are Expensive
While owning and caring for a dog is one of life’s greatest treasures, it can also be expensive. Just as we treat ourselves to routine care and healthy nutrition, quality care and food can be a significant part of the monthly budget for a dog lover.
This expense can rise dramatically if your dog happens to fall ill, particularly if they are diagnosed with cancer.
Treatments for dogs with cancer often involve complex and expensive equipment, more unique high-cost medications, close monitoring, and frequent veterinary visits – all of which can increase the cost of care exponentially.
There are strategies to help cover these unexpected medical bills. One avenue is to purchase health insurance for your dog. This must be done before your dog becomes ill, and always read the fine print before choosing a plan.
Another option is to utilize financing options. These can be from companies such as CareCredit®, ScratchPay®, VetBilling®, and LendingUSA®. These companies offer financing for veterinary care with unique financing options and deferred interest rates.1
It is also worth speaking with the veterinary office you take your dog to, as they can sometimes offer payment plans to established clients.
A third avenue of assistance is through groups like RedRover Relief, Mosby Foundation, and The Brown Dog Fund2 that can assist with veterinary care on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, if your dog is a service dog or veteran-owned dog, organizations that train and assist in providing these service animals have programs for helping with veterinary care.
Lastly, local organizations such as dog rescues and breed organizations can have the resources and be willing to help on a case-by-case basis.
Crowdfunding for Vet Bills
The above options are not always available. In these scenarios a popular option that people have utilized is crowdfunding. This strategy raises money from a large number of people who each contribute money towards your dog’s care.3
This is typically done through the internet and requires a lot of effort and time to create and post a campaign. The campaign usually outlines who your dog is, why they need care, and how much that care will cost.
Some people launch these campaigns through social media to gain more views and the likelihood of more people contributing to the cause.
There are platforms that assist in crowd funding. These include GoFundMe®, Waggle®, CoFund®, and Plumfund®.3
Pros and Cons
Many people enjoy helping dogs and their owners in a time of need, and utilizing crowdfunding to pay for the cost of your dog’s medical care can be successful.
Conversely, depending on how your campaign is publicized, it could have competition from other people who also need help and have decided to use crowdfunding.
Due to the viral nature of crowdfunding, many dog lovers have had success on crowdfunding sites when their dog is in an emergency situation or has debilitating illness (late stage of cancer), rather than supporting an owner in ‘well’ pet care.
It is important to be aware that organizations that host these crowdfunding platforms typically take a percentage of each donation. If you are planning on utilizing one of these platforms, it is important to do your research to understand how they work, what their reputation is, and comb through their FAQ sheet for pertinent information.4
Look at the current campaigns they host and promote and be sure they are valid campaigns that can achieve a measure of success. It is important to remember that you are trusting this platform with your and your dog’s information in addition to trusting them to help raise funds to help your dog. A solid track record makes for the best chance of success.
Tips for Success
As mentioned above, crowdfunding has become a popular option for helping ill dogs and their owners who do not have the means to pay for their care. If you are embarking on this option here are a few tips that could lead to success:
1. A title that clearly explains your dog’s illness and what is needed.
2. A brief and well written explanation of your pet’s needs.
People will not want to give money to an unknown problem or person. They will want to know who is receiving the money and what it is for. If you explain in simple terms what your dog is suffering from, what kind of care they need, and why the funds are needed, people are more likely to want to contribute.
3. A realistic financial goal.
Outline simply what you need the money for and how much things cost. This will help those who are contributing understand why you are asking for a certain amount. It may be helpful to include the treatment cost estimate from your vet.
4. Photos or video.
Again, this helps to personalize the campaign and give your supporters and donors a sense of who they are giving to.
5. Make yourself more visible online and build a community.
If you do not have a large social media presence, it might be worth bolstering it. Or alternatively reach out to your community and those you know have the ability to spread the word and utilize them to get the word out to as many people as possible. Another way to gain popularity is with a hashtag that individualizes your campaign.
GoFundMe for Vet Bills
GoFundMe is the most popular crowdfunding platform used today.5 It is utilized by many organizations as well as individuals. It has a history of successful service and the ability to share your story through email, social media, and text.
If you choose not to utilize GoFundMe, but another platform, remember to check their FAQs and do some research before deciding.
Raise Money for Pet Surgery and Other Care with Merchandise
Another way to gain a following and possibly public donations is through the creation of merchandise for your cause.
There are companies that assist non-profit causes by helping create one-of-a-kind t-shirts or other “swag”. These products may assist in marketing to raise funds for your dog and their cause. These organizations include Fundly.com and Bonfire.com.
There are also online auction sites that can help to raise funds for a cause by auctioning off large ticket donations, such as Travelpledge.com.
Other types of fundraisers that are often utilized by organizations like rescues and non-profits and are worth considering include:6
- Pet Calendars
- Dog Walk-A-Thons
- Donation Stations
- Dog Washing
- Pet Photo Shoots
- Bake Sales
- Dog Fashion Shows
These types of fundraisers work best with community support and a network of family and friends. They also tend to take more time to plan and execute, often with some upfront costs. If your need is more emergent, a crowdfunding campaign or financing option might be the better option.
- Steere K. Veterinary financing: What it is & how it works on pet bills. Pawlicy Advisor. https://www.pawlicy.com/blog/veterinary-financing/. Published February 28, 2022. Accessed April 28, 2023.
- Need Help with Emergency Vet Bills? Check These Sources. Accessed January 2023. https://cofundmypet.com/need-emergency-help-with-vet-bills
- Pet Guardians Struggling Financially – Use Crowd Funding to Your Advantage. Published March 2019, Accessed January 2023. https://thepetshow.com/pet-guardians-struggling-financially-use-crowdfunding-to-your-advantage/
- Advice for Raising Funds for Yourself to Cover Veterinary Care. One Health Organization. Published September 2021, Accessed January 2023. https://www.onehealth.org/blog/advice-for-raising-funds-for-yourself-to-cover-veterinary-care)
- GoFundMe.R www.gofundme.com/c/blog/gofundme-fees#:~:text=GoFundMe%20charges%20one%20transaction%20fee,worry%20about%20paying%20a%20bill.
- Animal Shelter Fundraising Ideas. Ketto. Accessed January 2023. https://www.ketto.org/blog/animal-shelter-fundraising-ideas
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