Ownership of pets is on the rise. Estimates suggest that around 71 million homes in the US have one or more pet – and that can be an expensive business.
Data from the American Pet Product Association (APPA) shows that Americans spent around $47.7 billion on pet care products and services in 2010. Of this, around $15.04 billion went towards veterinary care.
Technological advancements in the field of veterinary science make sophisticated treatments available easily, but these can come at prohibitive costs. If you're facing a major vet bill, a pet care loan can help you make sure that your furry, winged or scaly friend gets the best medical help available.
How do pet care loans work?
To apply for a pet care loan, you have to meet some basic eligibility criteria. Upon your application’s approval the lender will present you with a loan contract. Once you accept the contract’s terms and conditions the lender will disburse the approved funds. Depending on the lender you choose and how you apply, you can collect cash in person or have it transferred to your bank account directly.
After you get the money you have to start making periodical payments as per a predetermined payment plan.
Compare personal loans you can use for your pet
Finding the best pet care loan
Pay attention to these aspects when you’re comparing pet care loans:
- Interest rate. The annual percentage rate (APR) you get depends on multiple factors including your credit score, the amount you wish to borrow and your ability to repay. The lender you choose also makes a difference in the APR ranges, so make sure you pay attention to this number.
- Loan amount and term. If you end up borrowing more than you need, you’ll be paying extra interest. This can be a problem if the minimum amount offered by a lender is more than the amount you need. The maximum amount offered can be a factor if you have an expensive treatment on your hands. Loan terms can also vary. While a shorter loan term results in higher payments, it can lead to interest savings.
- Turnaround time. If you need money in a hurry, limit your search to lenders who provide quick turnaround times. While some lenders can give you access to required funds on the day you apply, others can take five to seven business days.
- Purpose of loan. Some lenders place restrictions on how you use proceeds from the loan, only allowing the funds to be used for emergencies, diagnostics, surgical procedures and care of chronic pet diseases and conditions. With others, you can use the money for any pet-related expense such as annual check-ups, vaccinations, microchipping and pet food.
How much does it cost to take care of a pet?
Pets can be expensive. Here are some of the main costs:
- Food. You’ll be spending between $120 to $500 on food every year, depending on the pet you have and the food you choose. A Great Dane is going to eat (and cost) much more than a mouse.
- Routine care. Expenses in this area include money you spend on training, grooming, collars and leashes. These combined costs can cross the $500 mark.
- Routine medical care. Veterinary exams can set you back $45 to $200 in the first year, with costs dropping from the second year. Spaying and neutering can cost $35 to $200. If you have a local Humane Society, there may be resources to find low-cost clinics near you. Flea and tick prevention costs can vary from $200 to $500 per year. Vaccinations cost $60 to $150 per year. If you’re getting health insurance for your pet, it should cost around $200 annually.
- Medical treatments. Costs of emergency veterinary care can top $2,000, depending on the condition. Treating feline fibrosarcoma can cost more than $750. Canine cataract treatments can cost over $1,200. Some life-saving surgeries cost in excess of $15,000.
What should I avoid when looking for pet financing?
Avoid applying for multiple loans at the same time. Your applications for credit will be mentioned on your credit report, which can have an adverse effect on your ability to get credit in the future.
If you think you won't be able to repay the loan on time, you may want to avoid taking it in the first place. If you don’t repay the loan in a timely manner, it will have a negative impact on your creditworthiness. In such a scenario, you may want to consider getting a loan from a friend or family member. You can also talk with your vet about creating a payment plan.
Pet adoption loans
Adopting a rescue from a shelter is typically inexpensive — you might have to pay for a vaccine here or there but nothing unaffordable. Purebred pets are another matter: Expect to pay between $500 and $3,000 for a cat or dog, more if you want to get a large or exotic pet.
If your pet is on the expensive side of things, you might want to consider taking out a pet adoption loan. You can typically borrow between $1,000 and $50,000 from pet adoption lenders at interest rates starting at around 6%. Not sure you'd be a good pet parent? There are also pet leasing options, where you pay a monthly fee over two to four years with a buyout option at the end.
Alternatives to pet loans
Don't want to take on debt? Don't think you can qualify? You might want to check out nonprofits that offer assistance to pet owners, especially if you're struggling to cover medical bills. These include:
- The Big Hearts Fund. This nonprofit offers financial assistance to pet owners with cats and dogs with heart diseases.
- Brown Dog Foundation. You can get financial assistance for covering the cost of your dog's prescriptions through this organization.
- Magic Bullet Fund. This fund offers assistance in covering the cost of caring for a pet with cancer.
- Pets of the Homeless. Lost your home? This organization can help you cover food and veterinary costs.
Frequently asked questions
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