Sunday, September 19, 2010

Vet/Emergency Funds

Hi everyone, happy Sunday! I'm writing to you today about having a Vet/Emergency fund for your little ones. This applies not only to guinea pigs, but any pet. It is always a good idea to have extra cash set aside so that, no matter the circumstance, you can give your friend the care he/she needs.

This is the first question you need to address when starting a vet fund: How much should I be saving up? The answer varies, depending on how old your animals are, how many you have, what kind are they [cavies or chow chows? rabbits or rhodesian ridgebacks?], and other questions. This is definitely something that you need to sit down and brainstorm on your own, but I will give you the guidelines I came up with way back before I adopted my bunnies.

An emergency could be a one-time visit, a couple hundred dollars and everything's fixed, or it could be a long drawn-out process. You really should plan for either. I recommend at least $500-700 per guinea pig, depending on your average vet bill/ER bill. To give you an example, the vet I see regularly is $45 per visit, but my emergency vet (Cornell) is nearly $200 for a fairly small emergency.
For rabbits, it's a good idea to have at least $700-900 on hand The reason that number is slightly higher is because folks are more likely to have 2+ guinea pigs, compared to one or two rabbits [not true for everyone, of course]. But if you have three guinea pigs, and one gets very sick, you have at least $1500 in care funds for it. Whereas, if you have one rabbit and it gets very sick, you only have $900 in care funds.

There is no set amount, no limit, to how much you should have saved, but the numbers I've given should cover you for basic emergencies. In five years keeping rabbits and guinea pigs I've only had to go to the ER vet once for Benner [Newman's brother] about a week before his death--he wasn't eating and his regular vet was on vacation--the only other emergencies I've had was Sophie-Mo and Olive's emergency spays [$240 each], and Newman's upper respiratory infection, which went downhill so fast after I noticed it that we couldn't get him to a vet in time.

It's best to have a vet fund before you adopt your friends, since almost no vet these days will accept a payment plan. [many do take Care Credit though, which is worth looking into if you have a lot of animals and no vet fund]. Some vets will work out a payment plan if you have a particularly hefty bill and you've been a client for a certain amount of time. My vet allows this for me, and I usually have my balance paid off within a month. I do this so that I don't have to take money out of our emergency fund if I don't need to.

It's also very important that you register with a vet before an emergency arises. Our emergency vet requires a $60 registration fee for each animal, so for my 9, that's $540. Do I have all of them registered? No. Three of my animals are registered there though, one of whom is still living; and the vet knows me from the House Rabbit Society. Some clinics, however, provide emergency care only to registered clients, whose animals have already had one routine check-up with them. Our regular vet clinic is one of these clinics, but our exotics vet doesn't do emergency care regularly, so we have to have a back-up.
The moral of the story being, have a vet fund and a vet before you need one.

I may add to this later, but for now I'm filing this in Cutting Back and HDYDI.


  1. I finally got around to becoming a "follower" so I can post comments.

    I jusy wanted to thank you for all of the great information that you put out there for all of us fellow piggie lovers.

    Thank you

  2. Very good advice. It's hard for me to save much when I have little extra money after saving away for college and paying bills. :( I try, though.

    Right now I have $40 in my vet fund...that's for two pigs. I hope I can grow it more. How much do you recommend putting away each month?

  3. Hafina- Thank you and welcome aboard! How is little Piglet doing?
    Cassandra-To be honest my vet fund has taken a blow recently and I haven't done much rebuilding, but I have at least one stable job right now so that'll soon change. I wrote this post as a motivator.
    I find it's easiest to set a minimum monthly/weekly goal, and check in with yourself every couple of weeks. This way you have a number in mind, not just "what I can do," but there's still the idea that if you're doing better one month than another, you can add more to the fund.

  4. Piglet is doing well. I think he is missing his buddy... he's ben following me around when ever I have the door to his home open (most of the weekend) I'm getting apedicure from him as I type. I also found him grooming one of the chinchillas yesturday during chin play time (he has always loved chin play time. I"m ryring this boy and may drive up to get him. He looks like a teddy and I always though my nex GP would be a teddy.

  5. I totally agree that it's important to keep a vet fund. I've known too many people who weren't prepared financially when something came up - and that's never good.

    I currently have about $300 in my emergency fund for my 8 year old chihuahua. I treat it like a bill. He has his own savings account and every month $50 gets put in there... more if we've got funds to throw around.

  6. All my pets (even the hamsters)have had one check up when they first come to live with me, that way they can get ER care if they need it - and I did need it once (he healed up fine) So I consider each and evey one of those first visits worth it.

    The first vet visit also gives me peice of mind that they are healthy, or if there is a problem, that I know what to look for (like weight loss in a chinchilla with over grown teeth, or mites in a new piggie)

    I don't keep a vet fund, but I have a line of credit that can cover anything. Of course I'd rather have the $ in the bank earning for us than borrow and owe interest, but I know that I can pay for any and all care that my pets could ever need. and I know that I will never let money prevent me from getting them medical attention.