My Dog Needs Surgery and I Can’t Afford It: 7 Ways to Pay

Sad woman pets her dog

Whether your senior dog tears their cranial cruciate ligament or it’s time for your puppy to be spayed or neutered, scheduling surgery for your four-legged friend can be stressful. It can also be expensive.

“It’s easy to see why pet parents get caught off guard with unexpected surgeries [because] they cost hundreds to thousands of dollars,” says Jo Myers, DVM, a veterinarian at the pet telehealth platform Vetster. “It’s just one more additional expense to add to the budget.”

The last thing most pet parents want to worry about is the surgery cost for dogs and whether they can afford to get the care their pet needs. Fortunately, there are many options to help pay for dog surgery, from crowdfunding campaigns and grants to financing options like the CareCredit credit card.  

Learn More About CareCredit

Here’s everything you need to know.

How Much Does Dog Surgery Cost?

One of the biggest questions pet parents ask when they learn their dog needs surgery is, “how much does dog surgery cost?” The latest data shows that pet parents spent an average of $458 on surgical vet visits for their dogs.1 However, keep in mind that the costs can be much higher. Multiple variables can affect the cost of dog surgery, including: 

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Complexity of the operation
  • Elective surgeries vs emergencies
  • Geographic location
  • The type of clinic (nonprofit vs private)

Here are some average costs for common dog surgeries:

Type of surgery Average cost for dogs 2-7
Spay/neuter $160-$220
Tumor removal $300-$1,600
Teeth cleaning $707
Hernia surgery $700-$2,500
Femoral head ostectomy (FHO) $1,200-$2,500
Foreign object removal $2,900-$3,265
Dog cataract surgery $2,000-$5,000
Dog torn ACL or CCL surgery $2,000-$8,000
Bloat $3,000-$10,000
Bladder stone removal $2,000-$5,000
Eye ulcer up to $1,000

My Dog Needs Surgery and I Can’t Afford It: 7 Ways to Pay

Some dog surgeries, including spay/neuter and dental extractions, are an important part of preventive care. Other surgeries are needed to treat dogs after accidents or illnesses and can be life-saving. 

Regardless of the type of surgery your dog needs, the estimate can cause serious sticker shock and leave you thinking, “My dog needs surgery and I can’t afford it.” Here are seven ways to help cover the cost of dog surgery.

Savings accounts

The average pet parent saves $439 per year to cover pet care expenses, a 2023 survey found.8 Consider opening a separate account and making regular deposits to help cover costs of routine care and dog surgeries. It’s an approach Dr. Myers calls, “an excellent way to prepare for veterinary expenses.” 

A dedicated pet savings account could also help ensure that you’re not one of the 42 percent of pet parents who lack confidence that they could cover the cost of a life-saving treatment for their pet.8

Pet insurance

Purchasing pet insurance is becoming more common. In fact, 24 percent of pet owners have insurance coverage for their four-legged family members.9 Accident-only coverage could help cover the cost of unexpected surgeries that could be needed if your dog eats a sock or gets injured at the dog park.

“Pet insurance can significantly decrease net out-of-pocket expenses for many common veterinary expenses,” Dr. Myers says. 

Although the average pet insurance premium for dogs is $720 per year,10 Dr. Myers notes that there are a number of different policies and price points available, making it easier to find one that fits your budget.

Financing options

The cost of dog ownership causes significant stress for 76 percent of pet parents, according to a survey of 1,000 U.S. dog owners.11 Knowing that your dog needs expensive surgery can add to that stress. With the CareCredit credit card, you can pay over time for the care your pet needs today at veterinary locations that accept the card.* 

“Financing options like CareCredit have a quick and convenient application process,” Dr. Myers says. “It’s a great option for on-the-scene financing with quick [credit decisions] so vets can quickly get on with providing treatment for the pet.” 

Learn More About CareCredit

You’ll need a credit check for approval, but financing can be used to pay for everything from routine vet care to elective and emergency surgeries.* The CareCredit credit card is accepted at over 25,000 veterinary hospital locations.

Payment plans

Some vet clinics may allow you to carry a balance and make regular payments over time. 

Although there are advantages to working out a payment plan with your vet, including the low likelihood of a credit check and immediate access to care, Dr. Myers notes that it’s become increasingly rare for veterinary clinics to offer financing.

Friends and family

Your dog is part of the family. So when they need surgery, your friends and family may be willing to lend a hand (and some funds) to help cover the cost. In fact, 65 percent of pet owners have asked family and friends for financial assistance to cover pet care.11

“Loans from family and friends may be available at any time of day from people who love you and want to help—usually with favorable terms,” Dr. Myers says. “It’s also quick and easy for the vet clinic to get a deposit by credit card over the phone, avoiding delays in starting treatment.”

Asking for a loan to cover dog surgery is only an option if your loved ones have cash to spare. 

Crowdfunding

Post photos and a brief story that describes why your dog needs surgery to platforms like GoFundMe, Waggle, or CoFund my Pet and invite the world to donate toward the cost.

“Tech tools like social media and Venmo make it easy to move money in an instant,” Dr. Myers says. 

However, crowdfunding platforms are filled with fundraising campaigns started by pet parents, which can make it hard to stand out. It can be difficult to raise enough money to cover the cost of dog surgery, especially in an emergency.

Charities and rescue organizations

A little online research can lead to dozens of grants for pet parents who need help covering the cost of veterinary care. Grants often have specific guidelines and might be income- or breed-specific or allocated to specific surgeries (like funds for spay/neuter surgeries).

“Grants from charities and rescue groups can significantly decrease or eliminate an owner’s net out-of-pocket expenses,” Dr. Myers says. “They also often serve traditionally under-represented groups of pet parents.”

Grants require applications, which can take time to get approved. It often means that you have to wait on approval to schedule dog surgery or pay for the procedure upfront and hope that grants will come through to reimburse those funds.  

In Conclusion

When your dog needs surgery, the last thing you want to worry about is whether you can afford to cover the cost. Understanding your options to pay for dog surgery and making informed decisions about which strategies are the best for your specific situation can make it less stressful.

“The best thing pet parents can do is recognize that there’s really no such thing as an ‘unexpected’ pet expense,” Dr. Myers says. “Be aware of how much veterinary care can cost, and plan ahead so you know what resources are available to you. That way you can have a plan when you need it.”

References

  1. “Total U.S. Pet Industry Expenditures.” American Pet Products Association. Retrieved from https://www.americanpetproducts.org/research-insights/industry-trends-and-stats
  2. “How Much Does a Vet Visit Cost?” CareCredit. Retrieved from https://www.carecredit.com/vetmed/costs/
  3. Woodnutt, Joanna. “Dog Cataract Surgery.” GreatPetCare. April 2024. Retrieved from https://www.greatpetcare.com/dog-health/cataract-surgery-for-dogs/
  4. Heigel-Meyer, Kathryn. “Torn ACL in Dogs.” GreatPetCare. Nov. 2023. Retrieved from https://www.greatpetcare.com/dog-health/torn-acl-in-dogs/
  5. Liff, Stephanie. “Bloat in Dogs.” GreatPetCare. Updated Jan. 2023. Retrieved from https://www.greatpetcare.com/emergency/bloat-in-dogs/
  6. Elfenbein, Hanie. “Bladder Stones in Dogs.” GreatPetCare. Updated March 2024. Retrieved from https://www.greatpetcare.com/dog-health/bladder-stones-in-dogs/
  7. Wooten, Sarah J. “Dog Eye Ulcer.” GreatPetCare. Updated Nov. 2023. Retrieved from https://www.greatpetcare.com/dog-health/dog-eye-ulcer/
  8. “How Far Would Americans Go to Care for Their Pets?” Lemonade. 2023. Retrieved from https://www.lemonade.com/pet/explained/are-pets-priceless-or-is-there-a-limit/
  9. Renter, Elizabeth. “Survey: Nearly One-Fourth of U.S. Pet Owners Insure Their Pets.” NerdWallet. Feb. 2024. Retrieved from https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/insurance/pet-insurance-survey-data
  10. Carver, Alexandra. “How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?.” MarketWatch.  (June 2024/ Retrieved from https://www.marketwatch.com/guides/pet-insurance/pet-insurance-cost/
  11. Gollub, Heidi and McGinley, Kara. “Cost of Dog Ownership Statistics 2024.” Oct. 2023. Retrieved from

*Subject to credit approval. See carecredit.com for details.

This information is shared solely for your convenience. Neither Synchrony nor any of its affiliates, including CareCredit, make any representations or warranties regarding the products described, and no endorsement is implied. You are urged to consult with your individual veterinarian with respect to any professional advice presented.

The post My Dog Needs Surgery and I Can’t Afford It: 7 Ways to Pay appeared first on Great Pet Care.