Help with vet bills
The national RSPCA is a charity focused on the rescue and rehabilitation of cruelly treated animals and so, unfortunately, we don't have the resources to provide funding to owners who are unable to pay vet bills.
However, here at the RSPCA, we have a network of regional branches and some of these may be able to provide assistance with vet bills in certain, highly restricted, circumstances. However, these branches also provide a lot of funding to support unowned and neglected animals, so the support they can offer is very limited.
While our resources go towards rescuing animals who desperately need it, there are specialist charities that provide subsidised veterinary care through a network of charity hospitals. However, it's important to note that these are strictly limited to certain postcode and benefit criteria so that the animals in the most desperate situations can be helped as a priority.
People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) provides low cost and free vet care to the sick and injured pets of people in need. Depending on your location and benefit status you may be eligible for support from PDSA.
Blue Cross is an animal charity that have been helping sick, injured and homeless pets since 1897. The animal hospitals and pet care clinics provide veterinary treatment to sick and injured pets when their owners can't afford private veterinary fees. Depending on your location and benefits received you may be eligible for support from the Blue Cross.
Discuss your options with your vet
If you've received an estimate for veterinary treatment that you're unable to afford, then it's important to discuss your concerns with your vet, explaining your available budget. There may be alternative approaches, but of course, these may not be as optimal for your pet. However, in some situations, they can still result in a good outcome.
You may want to consider getting a second opinion from a different practice, but be mindful that veterinary care is costly and there is no NHS for pets, so sadly vets are unable to reduce prices in many circumstances.
Branch welfare assistance
On occasion, an RSPCA branch may be able to offer a contribution to a vet bill, known as welfare assistance. Because this utilises charitable funds, the criteria are strict and payment will only be offered when the procedure will result in a definite improvement in the animal's welfare and the animal will have a good chance to recover and go on to live a long life. We'll expect the vet to have considered how costs might be reduced and will expect to see a full estimate, broken down.
To qualify for welfare assistance from a branch, the owner must be on at least one benefit - no benefits, no welfare assistance. However, just because someone is on a benefit/benefits, it doesn't mean that a branch will provide welfare assistance - the branch will decide on the criteria as to who they will offer welfare assistance to. Different branches will recognise and respond to different 'benefits' - it's the decision of the individual branch.
The owner of the animal is always responsible for all care and veterinary costs. We'll consider contributing towards a vet bill only where the caller has evidence of financial hardship. This usually means that the owner is in receipt of State Benefits, for example:
- State Retirement Pension
- Sickness/Invalidity Benefit
- Unemployment Benefit
- Income Support
- Working Families Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
National Hospitals and Clinics
We run some national hospitals and clinics (Birmingham, Manchester, Harmsworth, Edmonton, Merthyr Tydfil). These have stricter criteria for assistance and some branches maybe also running on stricter criteria. To be seen at these RSPCA establishments the owner must be on:
- Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)
- Income Support
- Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
- Pension Credit
- And living in the appropriate postcode area
Clients may also only register two pets, of which only one can be a pedigree. Depending on the current workload, the hospitals may not be taking on new clients.
All branches are run independently and the level of financial assistance will vary from branch to branch. These are charity funds being used and therefore careful assessment must be made before releasing the funds.
In very limited circumstances, we'l assist animal owners with a contribution if the animal requires emergency treatment and the owner has exhausted all other avenues. If your situation is an emergency and no other organisation can assist, please get in touch.
See below if your nearby branch or hospital can offer you veterinary financial assistance. Please check your eligibility before you travel.