Does Medicaid Pay for Pets?

medicaid pays for pets

Some pet owners ask if Medicaid pays for pets and the associated costs for having a pet. First, let’s review what is Medicaid, what Medicaid covers, and provide some tips on how to pay for your pet bills while on Medicaid.

Medicaid is a Federal-State funded health insurance program for low-income individuals.

What Medicaid Covers

Medicaid provides health coverage for doctor visits, hospital expenses, nursing home care, and home health care for the individual covered.

The question is…does Medicaid pay for pets? The answer is that they do not pay for pet care costs. However, there are special programs to help service dogs. Learn more about these programs.

If Medicaid doesn’t pay for your pet and pet care costs, what are options to help provide the best pet care and cover pet-related costs?

First, before you get a pet – it is important to understand what it costs to own a pet. Here are two good articles – What It Costs to Own a Cat and The Costs Associated with Dog Ownership. It can be expensive to have a pet and pet ownership may not be possible in some situations. Here is another good article to help you understand the dog vet costs – How Much Should You Expect For Dog Vet Costs?

If you already have a pet, what are options for paying for care? Below we will provide some tips on how to save and how to pay for vet bills while on Medicaid.

How Can You Pay For Pet Bills When You’re On Medicaid?

The costs of pet care can add up. Although Medicaid does not pay for your pet’s care, there are options to save money on your pet care. Here are some tips that may help:

  • Look for Low-Cost Routine Care. Your local shelter, rescue group or animal welfare association may offer low-cost sterilization procedures such as spaying and neutering, vaccinations, and other routine care. If your local shelter does not offer routine care, they may know who does. As you look for low-cost care, there are considerations and differences between low-cost care vs. care from your local vet. Learn more in this article – What You Should Know about Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Clinics vs. Your Local Vet.
  • Vet Schools. Some veterinary schools may be less expensive for some procedures. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has a list of accredited veterinary schools. This list can help you find out if there is a school near you.
  • Shop Around for Care. Prices for veterinary care can vary depending on your part of the country and even within the same city. I compared the cost of a Rabies vaccine in 5 different clinics in different parts of the country to find a big range from $14 to $42 for this common vaccine. This shows there are big differences in different parts of the country but there can also be big differences within the same city. Within one small geographic area of Columbus, Ohio there was a range from $15 to $26 for the rabies vaccine.
    Discuss Options with Your Vet. If your pet needs an expensive medical treatment or you’re struggling to cover the cost of care, discuss the situation with your veterinarian. Some vets may offer payment plans or discounts to their steady clients. This is more common in small local clinics. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
  • Pet Charity. There are pet charities around that can help in some situations. Your local veterinary hospital or Humane Society may have a list of organizations available in your area.
  • Save on Pet Meds. You can save money buy asking for a written prescription to take to your local pharmacy. Some antibiotics used for dogs and cats are available at human pharmacies such as Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart, Target, and your local pharmacy. Some medications are $4.00 at some pharmacies. You can also buy your pet meds online but special care is needed, as not all online pharmacies are trustworthy. You can also ask your vet to price match medications.
  • Look for Special Deals. Some veterinary hospitals offer specials throughout the year that can save you money. For example, February is Pet Dental Month and several veterinary hospitals run specials such as 20% off dental cleanings during the month. Many times you can plan your pet’s care around known offers. Subscribe to your veterinarian’s email list to receive offer notifications.
  • Feed Quality Food & Find a Loyalty Club. Good nutrition is important for health. Pick your pet’s food with care. It is tempting to save money by buying the cheapest or on-sale grocery store brand but that isn’t the best thing for your pet. To help save some money, consider finding a good quality food from your local pet store that has a loyalty club. For example, some stores offer “buy 8 or 10 bags, get one free”.
  • Protect & Practice Pet Safety. One way to save money on pet care costs is to protect your pet from common dangers which can turn into expensive problems. Here are some great ways to protect your pet:
    Spay or neuter. Do this routine surgery when your pet is young and healthy and the surgery is less expensive. Pyometra is a common and life-threatening infection of the uterus that requires surgery that can very expensive to treat when your dog is sick. Pyometra can be prevented with spaying.
  • Vaccinate your pet. Ensure your pet is protected from common infectious diseases that can be expensive to treat.
  • Don’t let your pet roam. Trauma from dog or cat fights or being hit by a car is common and can be very expensive problems to treat. This can be prevented by keeping cats inside or dogs on a leash or in a fenced-in yard.
  • Pet-proof. Keep your home free from toxins and problems such as rat poison and toxic plants such as Easter Lilies.
  • Stick with Pet Food. Stay away from feeding human foods for your pet. There are human foods that can be dangerous and even deadly to pets. Learn more with Dangerous Human Foods. Table scraps can make some pets sick causing vomiting, diarrhea, and in some cases pancreatitis. Stick with feeding a high quality pet food – it can save on emergency vet bills.
  • Brush your pet’s teeth daily. Consistent dental care can prevent dental disease and expensive dental procedures.

Learn more about common things pet owners do wrong that can negatively affect their pet’s health and cause problems that require expensive emergency care. Go to: 52 Mistakes Pet Owners Make.

  • Save on Toys. There are some neat things you can do to provide your pets with toys while on a budget. For example, milk top rings and aluminum foil balls are favorites for cats. Learn how to make some of your own toys while on a budget. Go to Favorite Household Toys for the Frugal Cat Lover or Favorite Household Toys for the Frugal Cat Lover.
  • Payment Options. If you have an unexpected expense with your pet, there are options such a Care Credit which can help you pay over time.
  • Pet Insurance. One excellent way to budget your pet care costs while on Medicaid is to consider pet insurance. Pet insurance can help you pay for your veterinary bill and provide the best care while on a budget. Pets Best offers some low monthly premiums with good coverage. See if pet insurance works for you.

Types Of Insurance You Could Look Into

You can look into pet insurance for illness and injuries and/or insurance to cover wellness care. Some pet insurance companies offer both such as Pets Best. Take a minute to see what the coverage would cost. If you are not familiar with pet insurance – learn more with this good article – How Does Pet Insurance Work?


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