We understand how hard it can be to access veterinary care these days. Unfortunately, there is a severe national shortage of both veterinarians and certified veterinary technicians and many pet owners are struggling to get into a veterinarian when needed.
Having an established relationship with a veterinarian in private practice is one of the best ways to support your cat’s health through their life. However, there are some alternatives available when seeing your pet’s regular veterinarian is not an option for whatever reason. There are also some different ways to manage costs of veterinary care.
What to do when you can’t get into your vet
If your pet is experiencing an emergency, there are a number of emergency animal hospitals in the greater Portland metro area. Note that costs for care at emergency hospitals are typically higher than in standard clinics, and wait times may be especially long.
The urgent care model has come to veterinary medicine and there are a few options in the greater Portland Metro area:
- Oregon Humane Society’s Community Animal Hospital
- Sadie Veterinary Urgent Care
- Heart and Soul Animal Urgent Care
Vaccine/Preventive Care and Walk-in Clinics
- For CAT adopters & spay/neuter clients only: CAT’s onsite hospital offers limited vaccine appointments for cats who were adopted or spayed/neutered at CAT within the past month.
- VetIQ clinics are located in some Walmart stores. These are not full-service hospitals, but provide preventive care such as vaccines as well as exams and treatments for common ailments like upper respiratory infections and diarrhea.
- Oregon City Veterinary Clinic operates on an all walk-in basis. You can call ahead to check on estimated wait times.
- Good Neighbor Vet offers periodic clinics in rotating locations providing basic preventive care (vaccines, flea treatment, etc.). They also have one “Good Neighbor Vet +” clinic in Salem that provides urgent care for common health problems.
- Vetco at Petco offers preventive care (vaccines, flea treatment, etc.) with some evening and weekend hours available.
- Sunshine Pet Clinic – Low cost vet services – low cost exams, spay neuter & vaccines. May offer lower cost surgeries as well.
Telehealth is another option for some medical issues for pets. Consults are available by video and veterinarians can prescribe many medications your pet might need. Some operate with a fee per consult and others a monthly or annual charge. Several have support available 24/7. Some of the services available are:
Dental Health Specialty
Forever Pet Dental is a practice that specializes exclusively on dental health: exams, cleanings, extractions, etc. Their staff is highly experienced with dental procedures and their prices are competitive
Ways to Manage Veterinary Costs Over Time
There are many companies that offer pet insurance, ranging in cost and coverage. Typically, insurance plans don’t cover preventive care like annual exams or vaccinations, and like human health insurance, pre-existing conditions are usually excluded. However, they can provide a substantial amount of coverage for illnesses, injuries, and disease. CAT partners with Trupanion (use promo code SHCA517 for a special offer); some other highly rated companies are Figo, Healthy Paws, and Embrace.
Wellness plans spread the costs of regular, annual veterinary care across the year with a monthly fee. They generally cover things like exams, vaccines, and–later in life–regular lab work and dental cleanings. Wellness plans started with national veterinary chains like Banfield and VCA, but many individual practices offer them now as well. Ask your veterinarian (or prospective veterinarian) if they offer wellness plans.
Create Your Own Veterinary Savings Account
At many banks, you can add an additional account without additional fees. Creating an account for veterinary expenses can help prevent an unexpected veterinary bill from creating a financial disaster. Setting up an automatic transfer from your main checking account to your veterinary account each month, even a small amount, makes it easier to build some savings a bit at a time.
CareCredit and ScratchPay are two credit options for veterinary care. Be sure to check the interest rates and fees on these and any other credit options.