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Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Sue Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide

Financial Assistance for Dogs with Cancer: Resources from The Dog Cancer Vet Team

So many of us find finances really tight when we’re looking at treating dog cancer. Getting financial assistance for dogs with cancer is possible by checking with the following resources.

Chapter 24: Financial Assistance for Dogs with Cancer

Excerpted from The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity, by Dr. Demian Dressler, DVM, with Susan Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology)

Conventional cancer care costs an average of $5,000 to $8,000, and if all three treatments (surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation) are used, the bill can easily exceed $10,000. For many guardians, this is a real financial burden, and for many others, the price tag makes any treatment prohibitive. Whether that number makes you gulp or yawn, spending your dollars wisely is important. Every dog deserves the best care her guardian can provide and, luckily for all of us, every kiss, hug and caress you give your dog makes a difference.

Unfortunately, kisses and hugs don’t pay the vet bills; if you need help, there are several organizations that may be worth contacting.

Organizations That May Help With Medical Bills:

I cannot guarantee any of these sites will help you, but they give you a place to start your search. There may be other resources available, too; common search terms include your breed’s name, “cancer bills,” “vet bills,” and “help.”

  • The Animal Cancer Foundation: This foundation keeps a running list of organizations that offer financial assistance of various kinds on their Financial Assistance page.
  • FETCH a Cure: Financial aid for those who live in Virginia, D.C., or Maryland, and have a confirmed diagnosis of cancer prior to applying for aid.

  • RedRover: This organization helps animals rescued from disasters or neglect, domestic survivors seeking safety with their dogs, and animals with life-threatening illnesses (like cancer). Depending upon your circumstances, they may be able to help.
  • Magic Bullet Fund: For dogs with cancer, whose treatment may extend life a year or more
  • Tripawd Organization: Lots of help for dogs who have lost a leg (and a great place to donate if you are able).
  • Canine Cancer Awareness: Help for dogs in need of cancer treatment
  • Waggle: Provides an online community site where you can raise funds and network with others
  • Pet Fund: Non-emergency financial help
  • Helping Harley Working Dog Cancer Treatment Grants: For working dogs with cancer (service dogs, assistance dogs, etc.)
  • Labrador Lifeline: Financial help for labs
  • Save Us Pets: Financial help for pets in New Jersey
  • Animal Cancer Therapy Subsidization Society: For pets with cancer in Alberta, Canada

Clinical Trials

Veterinary schools and research facilities are often actively conducting clinical trials for new techniques or medications. Participating in these can be a good way to get new treatments, at a reduced cost.

Calling veterinary schools in your area directly is the best way to find out about local trials.

You can also check the Veterinary Cancer Society’s website for an index:


An old-fashioned practice has regained popularity: barter. Although not everyone is a fan, I have heard from some readers that this solution worked for their vet and other caregivers. Perhaps you can work off your bill by trading your professional services, such as accounting, building contracting or consulting. The owner of a corporate chair massage business traded a day’s worth of chair massage, for the veterinarian and his employees, in exchange for an equivalent reduction in her medical bill. Another reader bartered a reduction in the bill for cleaning and repainting the vet’s parking lot, shampooing the carpets and waxing the office floors. An owner of a popular restaurant gladly fed her vet and his family, without charge, until her bill was paid down.

If you suggest barter to your vet, I strongly recommend a dollar-for-dollar trade to avoid quibbles over how much is owed or paid. You should also consult with your accountant, because bartered services may be taxable.


Some veterinarians and oncologists accept CareCredit, which is a healthcare credit card that can be used to pay off your veterinary bills in monthly payments, over time. As long as you pay your bill according to the terms of your agreement with CareCredit, there are no additional costs, upfront fees or pre-payment penalties.

CareCredit can do this because practices pay fees to participate, plus, the bank’s penalties for late or missed payments on your part are hefty. Depending upon your needs and which promotional packages your veterinarian offers, this could be a good option for some guardians. Although there is an application process, and your credit history will be reviewed before you get approval, even guardians with less-than-great credit may still be qualified. You can have a co-applicant with better credit scores apply with you or for you, also. If you have ever purchased furniture or electronics on a line of credit, this is a very similar process.

You can find out more online

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