Free veterinary care for low income Americans isn’t just a luxury; it’s a lifeline for families with furry family members. When your beloved companion animal needs assistance, the charities and organizations in this list may be able to help.
“There are 20 million pets in poverty,” said Kitty Block, president of the Humane Society of the United States. “Imagine how many struggling families that means? How many families are working hard to keep their pets in their family – making hard decisions between putting food on the table and getting vital pet food for their animals?”
Although furry family members don’t have access to human-specific health resources like Medicaid or Medicare, there are resources that can help them. You don’t have to sacrifice the unconditional love and companionship of your pet just because you’re struggling financially.
We know that veterinary care expenses can overwhelm a small budget and make it impossible to get adequate care. That’s why we’ve spent so much time assembling this list of organizations that provide free veterinary care for low income Americans and their pets!
Free Veterinary Care Grants
There are several agencies that may be able to help you lower your veterinary costs. Of course, the amount they can contribute may vary depending on funding so we encourage you to reach out to as many agencies as possible.
The Brown Dog Foundation
The Brown Dog Foundation is a small organization that does its best to help low income families cover their pet care expenses. They usually provide an answer within 2 to 5 days after your application.
In order to get help from this organization, you will need to have other sources of funding available. Their organization fills in the gap between what you have and what you need. If you don’t have all the other funding in place, they will not help you. You may need to get pledges from other organizations on this list before you apply with The Brown Dog Foundation.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE: Pet owners who are unable to afford their pet’s care may be eligible for assistance. Their success stories include both cats and dogs, so it appears this organization helps more than just dogs.
HOW TO GET HELP: You need to complete the pre-qualification survey by clicking on the “Apply for Assistance” button the Brown Dog Foundation website. If you meet the prequalification requirements, you’ll be sent an invitation to complete the application.
Frankie’s Friends National Fund
Frankie’s Friends can provide up to $2,000 in veterinary grants! These funds can be used to help with lifesaving emergencies or specialty care when the pet owners can’t afford the full cost of treatment.
You will need documentation from your veterinarian in order to apply, so you will need to have already taken your pet in for an exam. You’ll need paperwork showing a treatment plan, a clear diagnosis, and a good prognosis.
The money from this organization cannot be used to pay for initial exams, diagnostic testing, dental work, vaccinations, spay or neuter services, medications or euthanasia.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE: You must have a household income that is at or below 250% of the Federal Poverty Level.
HOW TO APPLY: Fill out the application on the Frankie’s Friends page. The application requires seven signatures to ensure that you read each and every page completely.
Friends and Vets Helping Pets
If you need help paying for your pet’s essential care, then you may be able to get help from Friends and Vets Helping Pets. This organization of animal lovers contributes grants toward the cost of curable diseases. They also provide help with medication or post-surgical pet prosthetics.
However, there is a catch. They expect their payment to be a supplement and will not fully cover the cost of care. You will have to get help from other sources or pitch in some of your own funds in order to get assistance from them.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE: You must have a household income that is 200% or less of the Federal Poverty Level. You must already have most of the money required to pay for care.
HOW TO APPLY: Fill out the initial qualification form to start your application. If you receive preliminary approval, you will be allowed to complete the entire application.
Handicapped Pets Foundation
If your pet needs a wheelchair, you may be able to get a free one from Handicapped Pets Foundation! This organization offers vital mobility support for pets who otherwise wouldn’t be able to get help.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE: You must receive some sort of government help to qualify. This includes disability benefits, SNAP food benefits, TANF, SSI, unemployment, Section 8 Housing Vouchers, or other forms of assistance. Your pet must also be elderly, disabled or have special mobility needs.
HOW TO APPLY: Submit the application form on the Handicapped Pets Foundation website.
Hope Mending Hearts
Hope Mending Hearts may be able to contribute up to $200 toward the cost of your pet’s care. They usually respond to applications within two days.
Please note that you may encounter errors when you go to this website. As of this update in December 2023, the website still uses HTTP and not HTTPS which some browsers don’t like.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE: You must live in the United States and demonstrate a financial need. You are required to apply for CareCredit first and submit your denial letter to Hope Mending Hearts before they will issue a grant. Your pet is required to have a life-threatening injury or illness that requires urgent and specific treatment.
HOW TO APPLY: Fill out the grant application form on the Hope Mending Hearts website.
The Mosby Foundation has been helping dogs for around 20 years. This organization provides one-time assistance, meaning that your family can only receive help from this organization once.
It is important to realize that they do not assist with emergencies nor do they reimburse already-paid bills. Funding is limited and can only be granted once per household. Pledged funds expire after 60 days if unused.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE: Dogs may be eligible if they are spayed or neutered before the grant is approved. All dogs in the household must be spayed or neutered in the near future as a condition of funding.
HOW TO GET HELP: Visit the Mosby Foundation website and fill out the pre-qualification questionnaire.
Onyx & Breezy Foundation
The Onyx and Breezy Foundation provides grants to help individual pet owners cover the cost of their companion animal’s care. This organization requires a lot of financial information to verify that you are eligible.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE: Pet owners who are going through a financial hardship may be able to get help. You are required to apply for CareCredit and submit your denial letter.
HOW TO GET HELP: Download the Individual Questionnaire file from the Onyx and Breezy Foundation website. You will need to include a CareCredit denial letter, copy of your tax return and documentation from your veterinarian to get help.
Paws 4 A Cure
This organization may provide up to $500 for urgent veterinary needs. Their funding can be used to help with injuries, illnesses, insulin, heartworm treatment, and medical equipment like wheelchairs.
They do not help with vaccinations, spay/neuter services, routine dental care, routine veterinary visits or euthanasia. Something like fractured teeth or abscesses in the mouth may be covered since they are not considered routine dental care.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE: Your dog or cat must have a diagnosis and treatment plan. You must be going through a financial hardship.
HOW TO APPLY: You will need to review all the information on the Paws 4 A Cure Website and then continue to page two to find the application.
The Pet Fund can help with specialty care that is not urgent. They can’t help in emergency situations and they don’t have enough funding to help with routine care, so they only help pets that need a specific treatment for a specific problem.
For example, they will assist with cancer treatments and chronic conditions, but they will not help with broken limbs. There is typically a wait list for assistance.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE: Low income pet owners who are experiencing a financial hardship may be able to get help from The Pet Fund.
HOW TO GET HELP: You will need to review all the instructions on the Pet Fund Application Form and then sign your name. Click the Next Step button to go to the next page of the application.
Red Rover Relief
You can get financial assistance, emotional support and resources from Red Rover Relief! They serve pet guardians who are struggling financially while their pets are struggling medically. They provide grants, usually around $200, under those circumstances.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE: Your pet must have a current diagnosis and treatment plan from a veterinarian. The veterinarian must believe your pet has a good prognosis. Your household income must not exceed $60,000 per year.
HOW TO GET HELP: You must click “Go to Step 2” on the Red Rover Urgent Care Grants page to start the application.
VCF Good Samaritan Fund
The VCF’s Good Samaritan Fund provides free veterinary care or discounted services to pets who belong to low income owners. When you receive help from this fund, they will connect you with a VCF-affiliated veterinarian and cover the cost of service. They may also be able to help with medications and follow-up appointments as well!
WHO IS ELIGIBLE: This fund is available to pet owners who are having a hard time paying for their pets’ care.
HOW TO APPLY: No application instructions are provided on the VCF website. You will need to contact them for details.
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Grants that Veterinarians Can Apply For
Some pet care assistance programs require your veterinarian to apply. You will need to work with an eligible veterinarian to get help from these funds.
AVMF REACH Program
If you work with a veterinarian that is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF), they may be able to apply for a grant from the AVMF REACH Program on your behalf. The grant can cover up to $500 in services.
Unfortunately, this is a tricky one. The veterinarian must provide the medical care before they can apply for the grant, which makes it risky for them and for you because there’s no guarantee that the grant will be applied to your account.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE: In order to qualify, your pet must need immediate care for an illness, injury or condition. You must also be experiencing a financial hardship and work with an AVMF vet.
HOW TO GET HELP: You must work with an AVMF member veterinarian to be able to receive help from this fund. There are more than 100,000 member veterinarians in the United States. The veterinarian must apply for the grant on the AVMF website.
AVMF Service Animal Charity Care
Some veterinarians may provide free vet care for low income military veterans through another grant program offered by AVMF. This grant is offered through a partnership with Harold Wetterberg Foundation.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE: You must be a military veteran who needs veterinary care for your service animal. You need to work with an AVMF member veterinarian.
HOW TO GET HELP: You will need to find an AVMF member veterinarian who is willing to apply for the Charitable Care for Service Animals grant.
International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP)
If you are a low income IAADP partner with a service animal, you may be able to get a grant to help with your pet’s care. The goal of this program is to ensure that service dogs stay with the people they are serving, even when the owner is struggling to cover the cost of their service animal’s care.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE: You must be a low income IAADP partner who has an adult hearing, guide or service dog. Dogs that are under 18 months old or retired are not eligible.
HOW TO APPLY: Your veterinarian must apply on your behalf. The grant must be requested from Nutramax Laboratories Veterinary Sciences Inc.
Veterinary Care Foundation (VCF)
If your veterinarian is affiliated with Veterinary Care Foundation, then they can request funds from VCF! These funds can be used to provide free and low-cost care to people experiencing financial hardship.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE: This fund is only available to veterinarians who are registered VCF members.
HOW TO APPLY: Your veterinarian can click the Request Funds button on the VCF website to apply.
Free & Low Cost Vet Clinics
If you’ve served in the military, there may be even more ways that you can get help for your pets. The organizations in this section specifically focus on serving veterans.
BluePearl Pet Hospital
BluePearl Pet Hospital has a special partnership with Frankie’s Friends. They’ve agreed to offer a discount on their services and cooperate with the Foundation in other ways. As a result, there is a separate Hope Fund fund available for pets who are treated at these locations.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE: Your pet must be treated at a BluePearl Pet Hospital. One of their vets must determine that a single intervention would help your pet recover and lead a normal quality of life.
HOW TO APPLY: Talk to the clinician or Practice Manager at BluePearl Pet Hospital to see if funding is available.
Veterinary Emergency Group
Veterinary Emergency Group (VEG) operates pet hospitals in 21 states and Washington DC. If you live near one of their clinics and can’t afford services, you may be able to get free care through their charity program called VEG Cares.
VEG Cares provides help for pets who belong to low income families, as well as those living in rescues or affected by natural disasters.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE: Low income families who can’t afford their pet care may be eligible for help.
HOW TO GET HELP: The VEG Cares website does not provide application instructions. You will need to contact someone at your local hospital, probably in the billing department, who can help you with this.
Local Pet Care Grants
There are additional grant programs that only serve pets that live in certain areas. For your convenience, we have separated these local programs from the nationwide ones that we listed above.
Cooper’s Legacy Foundation (ID & WA)
If you need free veterinary care for a cat or dog who is sick or injured, Cooper’s Legacy Foundation may be able to help. This organization typically answers requests within 48 hours.
Cooper’s Legacy Foundation does not provide assistance with emergency situations. They also do not help with chronic illnesses, initial exams, diagnostic testing, spay/neuter services, vaccinations or conditions that you knew existed when you acquired the pet.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE: The animal must be a cat or dog that is up-to-date on vaccinations and licensed (if required by your city or county). The owner must live in Washington or Idaho. Other criteria may apply.
HOW TO GET HELP: Download the application from the Coopers Legacy Foundation website. Fill it out and submit it electronically by following the instructions. If you don’t hear from them within 48 hours, they have a number you can call.
Dylan’s Hearts (GA, NC, SC, TN, VA)
Dylan’s Hearts is a local organization that can provide free veterinary care for low income pets. This organization focuses on helping pets who are facing life-threatening or critical illnesses that require a specific treatment.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE: You must meet the WIC income limits and live in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee or Virginia. If you don’t meet the WIC income limits, you may still be able to get help if you receive benefits from Medicaid, SNAP EBT (food stamps), Social Security Disability or Unemployment. Your pet must need a specific treatment because of a life-threatening or critical illness. A veterinarian must believe that your pet has a favorable prognosis, or a good chance of recovering.
HOW TO GET HELP: Your veterinarian must complete the application on the Dylan’s Hearts website.
Harley’s Hope Foundation (CO)
Low income pet owners in Colorado may be able to get help with their veterinary bills from Harley’s Hope Foundation! This organization offers an incredible suite of services, including help with emergency veterinary care, pet food, emergency pet boarding and even in-home pet care for pets that belong to homebound owners.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE: You must be a low income pet owner in Colorado to work with this organization. Each program offered by Harley’s Hope Foundation has its own criteria.
HOW TO APPLY:
Pets with low-income owners can receive financial assistance for their treatments. These funds are offered for major or emergency care, behavioral or specialty training. In order to qualify, pets must already have a diagnosis, treatment plan and a fair-to-good prognosis of recovery.
Free Veterinary Care for Low Income Americans by State
There are countless local charities and organizations that help pet owners in specific states! These organizations offer grants, free veterinary care, discounted pet services, free pet food, free pet boarding and so much more.
Make sure to select your state from the list below for the most comprehensive list of pet care resources we’ve found.
- California (Sacramento and San Gabriel)
- Michigan (Taylor)
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York (Kanona)
- North Carolina (Mt. View)
- North Dakota
- Oregon (Portland)
- Pennsylvania (Sunbury)
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Texas (Copperas Cove, Fort Worth, Lubbock, and Sinton)
- Washington DC
- West Virginia (Inwood)
There are other organizations that may be able to help you with your pet’s care costs as well. These organizations aren’t strictly grants or low cost clinics, but they may still be able to help you.
Ask a Vet 24/7
You can talk to a veterinarian 24/7 through JustAnswer! This is a quick and easy way to save money on your pet care costs. They may be able to save you the time and hassle of an in-person visit!
It’s also great for non-urgent questions about your pet’s health or behavior. Getting answers quickly can prevent small issues from becoming bigger, more expensive problems.
Plus, JustAnswer is more affordable than many in-person vet services. It gives you access to a range of experts, including specialists, which can be very helpful if you’re on a tight budget.
You can save a lot of money by taking a written pet prescription to your local pharmacy instead of filling it at the veterinary office. With FluffyRX, you can save even more money!
This program is free to use and can help you save money on your pet’s prescriptions. Just download the FluffyRX app and activate it with the Group ID “LowIncomeRelief.”
In order to be totally clear, this is not free pet insurance. It’s just a prescription discount card for pets, to help you find low cost veterinary medicine!
Magic Bullet Fund
Magic Bullet Fund provides fundraising assistance for cats and dogs who need surgery or chemotherapy. It can take around two weeks to get help so it’s important to request help right away.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE: Your cat or dog must have been diagnosed with cancer in order to get help from the Magic Bullet Fund. Dogs must meet weight and age limits. Cats must be under 15 years old or younger.
HOW TO GET HELP: Click the yellow Begin Application button on the Magic Bullet Fund website to get started.
Riedel & Cody Fund
The Riedel and Cody Fund provides help for pets who are need chemotherapy and radiation treatments. They do this by organizing Waggle crowdfunding campaigns. Before you apply, you are expected to know how much you can contribute to the overall cost of your pet’s treatments so they can set the funding goals appropriately.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE: Dogs and cats who have been diagnosed with cancer and have a treatment plan from a veterinarian may be eligible for help. You must be unable to afford treatment without help.
HOW TO GET HELP: You will need to apply on the Riedel Cody Fund website.
Important Pet Care Details
There are some things that you need to keep in mind as you look for free and low cost vet services for your beloved pet.
You need to submit a complete application.
If you decide to apply, please remember that most organizations require you to submit a completed application. You can’t fill out most of it and then add more details later. It all needs to be ready at once.
Many organizations will throw out your application if you leave answers blank or forget to include required documentation. Even if they allow you to follow up, it will take longer to process your application.
It’s faster and easier to get help if you make sure to fill out the application carefully and completely the first time. Always double check your answers!
Your pet usually needs a favorable prognosis.
The charitable care providers on this list get far more requests than they can reasonably fulfill every year. As a result, they have to be selective about which pets get help.
Usually, they will want to see proof that a veterinarian believes they have a favorable prognosis. That means that the pet has a good chance of recovery and can lead a healthy life after treatment. This proof typically includes a detailed diagnosis and treatment plan from the veterinarian, indicating that the pet’s condition is treatable and that the chances of a positive outcome are high.
The care providers use this information to prioritize cases where their assistance will have the most significant impact, ensuring that their limited resources are used effectively to save lives and improve the quality of life for pets in need.
Most organizations will not reimburse you if you already paid.
In most cases, the charities and organizations in this list will not pay you back if you have already paid the bill. If the bill is already paid, they assume that means that you had the resources to take care of it.
If you are struggling to pay something else as a result of paying the veterinary bill, we may have other resources that can help you. For example, if your pet’s veterinary bill took your rent money, we have a list of organizations that may help you with your rent. We also have a list of resources that can help you with your utilities, car payments, and more.
These programs will not give you cash.
Every provider on this list will send the money directly to your veterinarian, pet hospital or pet pharmacy. They will not give the funds to pet owners directly.
This approach assures their donors that the funds are used specifically for the intended purpose – your pet’s medical care. By sending the money directly to the veterinary service providers, these organizations maintain transparency and efficiency in their assistance, guaranteeing that the aid provided goes directly towards the health and well-being of your pet.
There are many organizations that offer free veterinary care for low income owners and their pets. From free urgent care grants to help with your crowdfunding campaigns, these organizations are dedicated to making sure your pet gets the best care possible.