Pets can make excellent companions for seniors; however, the additional expense may cause some seniors to think twice. Pets are proven to decrease bouts of depression and loneliness, plus they provide companionship and routine. Fortunately, there are a number of assistance programs available to help seniors with the cost of pet ownership.



Free or Low Cost Pet Sterilization

In many areas of the country, pet sterilization is now the law. It helps cut down on the population of stray animals who end up wandering the streets or occupying already full shelters. Talk to your local animal shelter about programs available in your area. These low-cost clinics typically operate on certain days of the week and usually provide low-cost vaccinations. If you don’t qualify for assistance there, talk to your veterinarian. He or she may know of clinics in the area or be willing to provide you with a payment plan.


Prescription Medications

The Brown Dog Foundation is an organization designed to help seniors cover the cost of their pets’ prescription medications. Though you have to apply for assistance, many low income families can get the help they need. The foundation will work directly with pet owners and their veterinarian or primary pet care provider to help make sure you can afford the medication your pet needs.


Veterinary Treatment

Dogs and cats need regular doctor’s visits just like humans do. If you cannot afford the cost of your pet’s doctor’s visits, there are many nationwide organizations, as well as smaller local organizations, that may be able to help. These include: Red Rover, Shakespeare Animal Fund, and The Pet Fund. Organizations like these provide assistance as well as mobile veterinary clinics for vaccinations and general check-ups.


Delivery of Pet Food and Supplies

The Pets Assisting the Lives of Seniors (P.A.L.S.) program is a branch of the Meals on Wheels program. Volunteers will deliver pet food and supplies to senior pet owners once a month. They also assist with transporting animals to the vet for regular care. As many of the clients are home-bound, P.A.L.S. also assist with dog walking, as well as basic bathing, grooming, and nail trimming.

They also have a trap, neuter, and release (TNR) program that helps seniors who decide to care for stray cats. This helps the senior provide care for the animal without having to worry about breeding or ending up with more cats than he or she can handle. Many local animal shelters and veterinary clinic offer similar services.


If you or a senior you know needs financial assistance to handle the cost of pet ownership, contact one of the above listed programs, your local animal shelter, or your local humane society. If your pet is battling a medical condition such as cancer or kidney disease, a number of assistance programs are designed to help dogs and cats suffering. This is by all means not an inclusive list of programs available. There are more programs specific to your local area or even specific to your pet’s breed that can also provide assistance.


For additional health information, visit the main Health and Conditions page or learn more about senior care options on the main Assisted Living page.

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About the Author: John Winfrey Jr. received his Bachelor’s in 2015 from the University of North Texas after spending much of his 20’s traveling across the country. Majoring in Marketing and minoring in Journalism gave him the experience needed to write and research important topics like senior health. Senior health especially hits home as his veteran father was a senior who eventually became deaf and blind. John had to become as familiar as he could, quickly, to provide support for his father.