Who Pays my Vet Bill After a Pet Food Recall?

Their food made your pet sick. Who’s going to pay for the visit to the vet?



You have a happy, healthy dog that you shower with love. As a responsible pet owner, you do everything in your power to keep her safe. Suddenly, your energetic pup starts acting lethargic. A couple hours later there’s vomit all over the carpet. You rush her to the vet, who confirms food poisoning. She gets a shot, and plenty of hydration. You feel confident you can take care of here from here on out, and you’re glad you were able to get her the care she needs.

On your way out, the attendant at the front desk hands you a bill. It’s a big one. How are you going to pay for this? Credit or debit? Cash or check? For that matter, should you even be the one that has to pay when it was someone else’s product that made your dog sick?

Front the Bill

Up front, you are going to have to pay the bill. If you have pet insurance, be thankful you’ve been keeping up on your premium. If you don’t, see if you can work out some kind of payment plan with the veterinarian’s office. Be sure to get an itemized print out of all charges, a receipt for what you’ve paid (even if it’s just a partial payment,) and any test results leading to the diagnosis. These will help you further down the line.

Good Companies Will Reimburse You

Good companies want to maintain their reputation. In most cases, contaminated food will be a rare and random occurrence. To make things right, many companies will refund the money you spent at the vet provided you supply appropriate documentation. Be ready to hand over copies of all of those papers you got at the vet’s office proving how much the bill was, how much you’ve already paid, and how the veterinarian arrived at the conclusion that it was, indeed, food poisoning.

You can typically submit all this information on the recall landing page. If there is not a field to enter this data, call the 1­800 number associated with the specific recall. If there is no recall open, follow proper steps to report the incident (see “How Pet Food Recalls Are Initiated”), and potentially get one started.

If They Don’t…

Sometimes, even if you follow all of these steps, the company will try to split the bill with you or dodge paying at all. If you’re not happy with the initial response, ask for more. If you’re getting refused over and over again, you may want to look at litigation options.

If this is a problem others are having, you can search for a class action lawsuit. If one is already opened, it will cost you nothing to join. The inconvenient truth about this route is that it can take several years for the case to conclude, and payments to be issued. When payments are issued, they’re likely to be less than $100. That’s probably not enough to cover your vet bill.

Faster results can be achieved by taking the company to court yourself. If your bill was high enough to fight for, but low enough to be filed in small claims court in your state, you will not need a lawyer to fight for it. You can litigate for yourself, granted you are armed with proof that the food was contaminated and was, in fact, what made your dog sick. Be prepared for experienced legal opposition from the other side. If you do hire a lawyer, be sure to weigh their fees against your vet bill, or you may end up paying more to go to court than if you had just absorbed the original bill.

Most Companies are Good

Court and class action lawsuits can be a headache. While they may be necessary in some situations, most companies are willing to compensate you for the damage they have caused, and that is most easily done by picking up your veterinary tab.

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