If you can’t afford pet insurance (Waggel is a new simpler company co-founded by an ex-Apprentice contestant to avoid the minefields), then you may qualify for free or low-cost vet care. If you buy pet insurance, try to go for a simple lifetime plan that covers long-term conditions. If your pets don’t qualify due to age or breed or previous conditions, then save money in a rainy day fund instead.
The following charities may offer free or low-cost vet care:
No doubt the best solution is preventive care. So learn of toxic foods and plants to avoid (even tails brushing against lilies or sago palm can harm), and buy this book to keep your dog safe (which covers everything from preventing heatstroke to collar safety). Not a replacement for vet care, but it should prevent many incidents and also has a simple illustrated first aid guide (the book is also funny and full of cute illustrations, to help a scary subject easier to learn).
Blue Cross campaigns against irresponsible breeding of brachycephalic pets (English/French bulldogs, pugs, Boston terriers, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, shih tzus, boxers and Persian cats) that find it difficult to breathe and are more at risk from heatstroke.