How much money would you recommend having put back for emergency vet bills? (read as: getting hit by a car, sudden illness, ect.)
It’s impossible to prepare completely for unexpected vet bills. Bad things always seem to happen at the most inconvenient times!
However here’s a list of goals to set yourself for saving:
- Consult Fee: Every animal should have access to medical attention if it’s sick or injured. Finding out quickly if it requires treatment is critical. Nearly every animal that dies in a vet clinic dies because it has been left too late.
Give your local clinic a call to find out a quote - and don’t forget to look into emergency call fees too! Which brings me to:
- Emergency Treatment: When emergencies happen they often require rapid action and fluid support. If you don’t have much money you may not have the time to source the funds when you need them and having the money upfront will ensure you can keep your animal companion alive while you weigh up your options and source the money required for any surgery or further treatment is required.
These rates are for Australia, but I would set aside around $300 for pain relief, stabilisation and hospital care. Again this will depend upon the after-hours arrangements for your area, as some after hours clinics have significantly higher costs.
- Diagnostics: Looking at your first example of being hit by a car, the vet will need to do a radiographic examination for your animal. This may require anaesthesia which will increase the costs. These diagnostics are an important part of the case, as it will determine your pet’s prognosis, and therefore what avenues you may decide to pursue in managing the situation.
I would aim for about $500 set aside in the case of multiple radiographs for a hospitalised patient. Sick or injured animals are harder to manage under anaesthetic and so the nature of the illness or injury is critical in this case.
As you can see, I’m in the high hundreds and we haven’t even looked at treatment!
- Treatment/further diagnostics: THIS is where costs become incredibly variable. With any luck the condition will be resolved within a few hundred dollars or the vet can get a quick diagnosis and you can sort out a plan for the future. However we don’t live in a perfect world, and sometimes things are harder to diagnose or treat than we would like.
Surgery can cost thousands of dollars, while advanced imaging such as MRI, Cat-Scan, myelograms etc. can be just as expensive.
At this stage once you have the animal stabilised you can make plans with finance companies, your bank, family and friends, even reach out to anonymous people on the internet! You’ll also hopefully have an understanding of the likelihood of your pet making recovery will be. Remember that euthanasia is not a cruel act, and can often be the kindest
I admire your initiative in wanting to set up a savings account. Clients who can afford the treatments and diagnostics at vets recommend are not only doing the best by their animals, but they do wonders for the mental wellness of clinicians who are all too often prevented from using their training for its intended purpose.
Another worthwhile option to pursue is pet insurance! They are designed specifically for situations like this. Talk to your local vet about which insurance companies they have a good relationship with.
To conclude: Set aside the cost of a consult fee now and continue to add to your vet-specific savings regularly based upon what you can afford. Even if you don’t use it for an emergency it will assist you as your animals get older and develop age-related conditions.
NOTE: If this is for a horse, double everything and win the lottery!