This article is shared with permission from our friends at Pet Guide.

You’ve been in this situation before: your dog isn’t acting like his old self, so you take him to the vet. Most times, it’s nothing serious, but when the vet makes a serious diagnosis, all you want to do is make sure your pooch gets the care he needs.

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Once your dog is out of the woods, or you know the course of treatment that needs to be undertaken, you can start to relax… or can you? A serious condition that requires medication or surgery, as well as repeat vet follow ups, can put a major damper on your finances. What do you do when you can’t afford a vet bill? We’ve got a couple of tips for you:

  • Ask about a payment plan. Many veterinarians allow their patients to pay large bills in installments, so don’t be afraid to ask!
  • Use a credit card. If you can’t pay your vet bill immediately but you know that you’ll have the money for it soon, you can put it on a credit card in the meantime. Just be sure to pay it off before interest kicks in!
  • Take out a personal loan. Some banks offer personal loans in amounts up to $100,000 or you can find an online loan company. In many cases you won’t have to put down collateral, but you may be subject to high interest rates.
  • A line of credit: Most likely, your bank offers a personal line of credit if you’ve been a good customer. The great thing about a line of credit is that the interest rates are much lower than a credit card or personal loan.
  • Offer some kind of exchange. If you live in a small town or you have a personal relationship with the vet, you might be able to negotiate an exchange of goods or services in lieu of payment.
  • Crowdsourcing websites: This option has become increasing popular over the past few years. Basically, you post your story on a site like GoFundMeIndiegogo, and Giveforward. You can share the link to your story on social media sites and ask friends to share your story. Visitors to the site can donate as little or as much money as they can to help pay your vet bill. But don’t rely on this method to cover the totally amount – expect to get some help from friends. And don’t use it like it’s your personal bank, because that’s just bad karma.
  • Sell, sell, sell! We wrote about a woman who was willing to sell everything she owned just to keep your beloved dog alive. In fact, she held an open-house auction where the motto was: If it isn’t nailed down, you can buy it. You don’t have to go that far, but holding a yard sale or posting a listing on Craigslist can help pay off a hefty vet bill.

The worst thing you can do is to dodge a vet bill. If you simply refuse to pay a bill, your account might be turned over to collections and that leads to even more trouble. If you can’t afford to pay a bill, at least talk to the veterinarian to see whether any of the options listed above are viable.

Where to Find Affordable Veterinary Care

In an emergency, you may not always be able to choose where you take your dog for veterinary care. For things like booster shots and wellness visits, however, you have a choice in where to go. If you are concerned about high vet bills, take the time to look up some free or low-cost veterinary clinics in your area.

If you aren’t sure where to look, ask at a local veterinarian’s office or do an online search – you can also check with your local humane society or rescue organization. If you need even more help paying for veterinary care, there are certain breed-specific veterinary care assistance programs that you might be able to find through the humane society or online.

Making sure that your dog sees the vet at least once a year is incredibly important. Not only does your dog need annual vaccinations, but a routine exam will catch developing conditions when they are still in the early stages.

Most importantly, the best time to start budgeting and saving for your dog’s health is while he’s still healthy.

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