Pet Care Resources for Low-Income Seniors
Pets are a source of joy for many older adults, but the cost of care can be a strain for some seniors. If you’re having trouble paying for food, vaccinations, and veterinary care for your pet, there may be low-cost or free resources available in your community. Here’s how to find the help you and your pet need.
Pet food assistance for fixed-income seniors
Hundreds of local Meals on Wheels programs offer some form of pet-care support to their homebound senior clients. The extra help with pet-care costs not only allows seniors to take better care of their animal companions, it also helps improve senior clients’ nutrition. That’s because seniors who can’t afford pet food will often give their pets the food meant for themselves.
Not every local Meals on Wheels program offers pet aid, but those that do usually deliver pet food, kitty litter, and other necessary pet supplies to their clients. Some local groups help clients with the cost of veterinary care and boarding. Some coordinate volunteers who walk senior clients’ dogs and drive seniors and their pets to grooming and veterinary appointments.
To find the Meals on Wheels program nearest you, enter your zip code here.
Reduced-cost vaccinations and vet care for dogs and cats
Keeping pets up to date on their vaccines is important to their health and yours. If you’ve missed a yearly vet check and your pet is behind on its shots, or if it’s due for boosters and a visit to your regular isn’t in your budget right now, look for a low-cost pet clinic.
The first place to look is your community’s animal shelters. They often host vaccine days on a monthly or seasonal basis, and they will know about other local options. Public schools in your area may host shot nights where you can get your cat or dog vaccinated, buy flea and tick control products, and renew your county license tag. If you’re lucky enough to live near a university with a veterinary school, check for their clinic options.
Some farm supply, grocery, and drug stores host pet vaccine events, too. Selected Tractor Supply locations (full disclosure: I occasionally write for their magazine) offer puppy and kitten shots, adult pet vaccine packages, and individual vaccines. These clinics offer other vet care, too, including testing for heartworm, Lyme disease and other pest-borne illnesses.
Texas-based grocer H-E-B hosts pet-care events at its stores across the southern part of the state, from Houston and Austin to the Mexican border. In addition to vaccines, you can get your pet microchipped for easy identification if they get lost, and you can pick up free samples of pet food and treats.
Along the East Coast, some Walgreens locations offer monthly pet clinics run by ShotVet. These are available in Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Maine. You can use the site’s locator to find upcoming clinics.
Other resources for affordable pet care
We talk a lot on the blog about how it never hurts to ask for a senior discount, and it’s true at the vet too. Ask if there’s a discount for yearly exams and shots. If your pet takes prescription medication, ask about generics and shop around for the pharmacy with the lowest price. Finally, check the Humane Society of the US state-by-state list of financial aid resources for pet owners. With some persistence, you can keep your pets in the best possible health, even on a tight budget.