Pet assistance for low-income families: X free or cheap vet services

When your pets start to act strange and uneasy, worrying becomes inevitable. Your urge to bring them to the nearest veterinary clinic becomes uncontrollable. Unfortunately, looking for cheap animal hospitals can be difficult.

What can you do if you can’t afford a vet? Especially in emergency cases, you might not be financially prepared for the expenses you might incur. 

Apart from worrying about vet costs, you also need to worry about spay and neuter costs, along with other necessities like pet food. Expenses can quickly pile up.

To help you and your pet find cheap and free veterinary services, we’ve searched the web for budget-friendly clinics and foundations. Scan through these so that you won’t have to worry about both your pet and your wallet. 

1. AVMF Veterinary Care Charitable Fund (VCCF) 

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) enables veterinarians to help financially-constrained clients whose pets are injured or rescued from neglect. Pet owners should apply for grants through their veterinarian. 

Eligibility Criteria

  • Disabled veterans in need of service dogs
  • Low-income senior citizens
  • Rescuers of domesticated animals
  • Domestic violence victims


  • Free or low-cost surgeries
  • General medical care
  • Limited reimbursements for treatment expenses (direct care or shelter only)

How to Apply

  • Log in to the application system
  • Fill out the mandatory fields in your online application
  • Download and print your application
  • Submit your application and wait for the automated confirmation email

2. Brown Dog Foundation

In memory of Chocolate Chip, a dog who died of lymphosarcoma, Brown Dog Foundation was founded in October 2006 to provide help to sick pets who can still be saved by treatment.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Pets whose lives are at risk
  • Pets with ongoing treatment due to immediate danger


  • Cash
  • Referral to lower-cost alternatives

How to Apply

  • Complete the online “apply for assistance” survey
  • Once notified that for pre-qualified for assistance, complete the online Application for Assistance
  • Provide additional information to the Case Manager
  • Receive the Letter of Commitment signed by the Board President and delivered thru email

3. Cooper’s Legacy Foundation

With hopes of bringing medical attention to pets in need, Cooper Legacy Foundation was founded after its namesake, the Great Pyrenees who suffered from bilateral cranial cruciate ligament tears.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Non-emergency situations
  • Companion dogs and cats living in Washington or Idaho 
  • Pets with no chronic illness
  • Updated vaccinations 
  • Licensed, if required by city/county


  • Financial assistance
  • Support for treatments (to be completed either in Whitman or Latah County)

How to Apply

  • Fill out the online preliminary application form
  • Answer additional questions from the foundation
  • Await for approval of your request

4. Dylan’s Hearts

Founded in 2013 in honor of golden retriever Dylan diagnosed with lymphoma, Dylan’s Hearts aims to help financially struggling families provide treatment to their pets under critical situations in partnership with vet clinics.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Pets in need of urgent medical care
  • Pets with diagnosis and treatment plan
  • Pets with a favorable prognosis
  • Applicant agrees to update and give photos of pets


  • Immediate care
  • Assistance for treatments
  • Assistance for cancer patients

How to Apply

  • Review eligibility requirements
  • Prepare favorable prognosis
  • Ask your veterinarian to fill out the online application form

5. Harley’s Hope Foundation

Following the death of the founders’ dog, Harley, in 2010, Harley’s Hope Foundation was created to financially support pet owners and their companion animals in their fight against illnesses.

Eligibility Criteria

  • With routine veterinary care
  • With diagnosis, prognosis, and estimate from the veterinarian
  • With proof of financial need


  • Veterinary Assistance
  • Dog and cat food delivery
  • Drive-Up Pantries
  • Vouchers for chronically ill pets
  • Fund for service animals 
  • Short-term emergency foster care for animals living with hospitalized seniors in Pikes Peak Region
  • Old Pet Parent Service for owners 50 y/o and older

How to Apply

6. Hope Mending Hearts

Hope Mending Hearts was founded by veterinarian Dr. Tara Brooks. She has given out as much as $100,000 in providing pet assistance for low-income families needing emergency surgery.

Eligibility Criteria

  • With life-threatening illness 
  • With favorable prognosis
  • Spayed or neutered (if not, must express intent upon submission of application)


  • Financial assistance
  • Urgent veterinary care
  • Additional resources for victims of domestic violence

How to Apply

  • Secure favorable prognosis
  • Ensure that your pet was spayed/neutered
  • Answer the online grant application
  • Wait for the check to be given to your veterinary clinic

7. Ian Somerhalder Foundation

Actors Ian Somerhalder and Nikki Reed’s passion to make the world better gave birth to the Ian Somerhalder Foundation. They offer programs and grants for education, creatures, the environment, and youth. 

Eligibility Criteria

Eligibility is based on pre-identified areas, including the following:

  • Mississippi
  • Colorado
  • New Mexico
  • Pennsylvania


  • Spaying and neutering
  • Checkups
  • Deworming
  • Vaccines
  • Flea and tick prevention
  • Awareness campaigns

How to Apply

  • Keep updated about the areas visited by the foundation
  • Connect with the foundation’s partner veterinarian team

8. International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP) 

IAADP is a non-profit, cross-disability organization launched in 1993 to represent people partnered with guide, hearing, and service dogs.

Eligibility Criteria (For partner members only):

  • Person with disability
  • Interest in the assistance dog community 
  • Working with a trained adult guide, hearing or service dog from a provider or owner-trained 


  • Global information sharing and advocacy network
  • International Help-line 
  • Workshops
  • New member packet

How to Apply

  • Enroll or renew membership online
  • Print out the application form and send it to:

IAADP c/o Dana Spears

PO Box 638

Sterling Hts, MI 4831

  • Pay membership dues

Other Cheap or Low-Cost Vet Care Options

There are also alternative ways to take care of your pets’ needs without having to spend a lot. Here are a few options to consider:

1. Use CareCredit

Though subject to approval, CareCredit also offers veterinary financing with minimum monthly payments. Ask your enrolled providers for details.

2. Look For Veterinary Schools

There are multiple vet schools that offer pet care. For mild cases, you can bring your pet here. Veterinary students are supervised by doctors to provide your needed pet care for a much lower cost, if not free at all.

3. Shop Around

You would want to just buy the first thing you see, especially if your pet needs it already. However, you can always save a dollar or so by finding the cheapest buy in town.

4. Negotiate Payment

Some veterinarians are open to payment negotiations and payment plans. If you pass their criteria, you can spread a huge expense into several months.

5. Consider Cheaper Prescriptions

As long as they’re safe, asking for alternatives won’t hurt. On the contrary, it might help with budgetary constraints.

6. Protect Their Health

We’re sure you’ve been going the extra mile to take care of your pet, but taking it up a notch might help you prevent additional expenses by being proactive in maintaining their hygiene and buying them some vitamins.

7. Utilize Vet Care From Benefits

For pet owners on benefits, you can check from your local area if you can be entitled to cheap (or even free) vet fees. This can also come along with subsidies on procedures like neutering schemes. 


Taking care of sick pets can cause a lot. Luckily, there are multiple options for free emergency vet care. Reach out to the clinics and foundations in this list, and they can be the fairy godmother for your needed pet care.

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