Pet Financing: Are Pet Loans Right for You?
If you’re facing a large or unexpected vet bill, pet loans are a financing option you can use to cover your expenses. Whether your furry friend needs a procedure, medications or training, pet financing can make taking care of your pet more affordable.
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What is a pet loan?
A pet loan is a type of financing used to cover expenses related to caring for your pet. Since pet loans are personal loans, they can be used for a variety of purposes — including adoption, surgery, medications or training.
Personal loans are typically unsecured (meaning you won’t have to put down collateral) and come with fixed interest rates. You’ll repay the loan via fixed monthly payments over the course of your loan term.
While personal loans can be used for a variety of reasons, some lenders — such as LendingUSA — offer loans specific to pet financing.
However, personal loans aren’t the only option you have for pet financing. CareCredit offers credit cards specific to medical care, including veterinary costs. This credit card may be a good option for those who can afford to pay off the entire balance within the financing period so that interest payments can be avoided.
Whether you qualify for pet financing will depend on a number of factors such as your credit score, credit history and income. If you’re considering taking out a personal loan to cover your pet-related expenses, you can fill out a single form with LendingTree and receive up to five personal loan offers from lenders.
Pet loans: Pros and cons
As with any form of debt, it’s important to weigh both the benefits and the drawbacks before signing on the dotted line.
You’ll have the money needed to cover immediate emergency expenses, like an emergency vet bill.
You may qualify for special financing, which allows you to finance the purchase at reduced interest — or even no interest.
You can break up expensive vet bills and other pet expenses into manageable monthly payments.
You may have to pay interest, particularly with a traditional personal loan or credit card.
Depending on the form of financing you choose, your payments may not be reported to the credit bureaus and won’t help your credit score.
Special financing may be subject to deferred interest — with deferred interest, the debtor is charged for interest dating back to the purchase date if the full balance is not repaid by the end of the promotional period.
How much do pets cost?
Pets commonly cost between $185 and $1,391 annually, depending on the type of pet you have. Keep in mind that these figures don’t account for significant or urgent medical issues that your beloved furry, scaly or feathered friend could have.
How much does a dog cost?
The average cost to own a dog is $1,391 a year, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). This total can include food, vet visits, toys and grooming supplies.
Aside from all the annual care, however, there are also lots of one-time fees to consider:
- Spaying/neutering: $300
- Initial medical costs: $300
- Training: $200
- Collar/leash/harness: $60
- Crate: $60
- Carrier: $50
- Grooming tools: $40
- Microchipping: $20
How much does a cat cost?
To take care of a cat, it costs about $1,149 annually, according to the ASPCA. While cats can cost a bit less than dogs, you’ll also have to account for supplies like litter boxes and scratching posts.
Here are a few one-time costs you may need to invest in when adopting a cat:
- Spaying/neutering: $150
- Initial medical costs: $175
- Carrier: $40
- Grooming tools and supplies: $20
- Microchipping: $20
- Litter box: $20
- Scratching post: $15
How much does a bird cost?
The cost to adopt a bird can vary widely, costing anywhere from $20 to more than $8,000 (depending on the type of bird you want), according to Petco. On average, however, it may cost around $285 to adopt a bird.
After initial adoption fees, it costs an average of $185 to take care of your feathered friend each year. This includes expenses such as:
- Cages: $70
- Food: $75
- Toys and treats: $25
- Medications and vet bills: $85
How much do reptiles cost?
Owning a reptile can cost anywhere from $300 to $1,300, depending on the type of scaly critter.
Common costs that come with reptiles include vet visits, terrariums, lights and food. Terrariums can be especially expensive, with gecko enclosures costing between $149 to $565. Depending on the type of reptile you get, you may also have to consider exotic pet insurance ($10 to $100).
How much do fish cost?
Buying a fish can cost an average of about $160, with an average annual cost of about $520.
While the initial cost to purchase a fish isn’t too pricey, equipment like aquariums, filtration systems, heaters, test kits, decor and lighting can add up quickly. Food can also be expensive, with costs running an average of $10 a week or $520 a year.
Common reasons for pet financing
In a 2022 LendingTree survey, we found that over 75% of pet owners reported that their pet care costs are increasing. In fact, more than 25% of pet owners claimed they were struggling to afford these rising expenses.
For those who are struggling financially, a pet loan may allow you to pay these bills. Common reasons pet owners take out a pet loan include the following:
- Veterinary appointments and treatments
- Service or emotional support training
Pet loans for bad credit
If you have a low credit score, it may be challenging to find a trustworthy lender with affordable annual percentage rates (APRs).
However, if you’re in an emergency situation and don’t have time to work on your credit, consider bad credit loans as opposed to predatory debt options, like payday loans.
Payday loans have APRs that can get as high as 400%, as opposed to the maximum 36% most financial experts consider to be affordable. These types of loans also come with sky-high fees, short repayment terms (two to four weeks) and a borrowing amount typically capped at $500.
If you’re thinking about pet financing and can afford to wait, take the time to improve your credit score to access better interest rates, terms and perks.
Alternatives to pet loans
A pet loan can help you bridge the cost of care for your pet, but it may not be an option that’s viable for everyone, especially if you have a low credit score or little credit history.
Here other affordable options you can consider:
- Payment plan: Some veterinary offices offer payment plans for customers who aren’t able to pay off their balance upfront. You may be able to pay off your vet bill in installments, rather than all at once.
- Nonprofit support: Nonprofit clinics and veterinarians may offer services at a lower cost. You can check the Humane Society of the United States database to research organizations in your state.
- Low-cost clinics: Places like vet schools may provide services at a much lower cost, since they offer students the opportunity to test their skills.
- Pet insurance: Purchasing pet insurance can help with covering the cost of care, especially with expensive bills like those with surgery. Pet insurance for cats and dogs can cost anywhere from $11 to $90 a month, depending on the plan.
- Credit card: Check if you prequalify for a credit card with low interest or a 0% intro APR. With 0% APR credit card, you won’t have to pay interest on your credit card purchases during the promotional period — though if you don’t pay off your balance before the intro period ends, interest will accrue.