We love our pets and want to ensure they enjoy long lives by providing good veterinary care and the medications they need. Yet prescriptions for dogs and cats can often be costly—sometimes even exceeding the price of our own medications.
“Unfortunately, not all pet insurance companies cover prescription medications,” says Jeff Werber, DVM, an LA-based veterinarian and host of Ask the Vets with Dr. Jeff, a podcast on Pet Life Radio. “Often I will check to see if a less expensive generic version of the medication is available. Generic medications are only available after a brand-name drug has been on the market for seven years, so you can’t obtain many of the newer medications in generic form.”
Another solution for discount pet medications is SingleCare’s prescription savings card. Pet owners can compare local pharmacies and maximize savings on many medications that are prescribed to both pets and humans.
The top 10 discount pet medications*
The following prescription medications are often prescribed to both people and pets—and will net you the biggest savings with your SingleCare card. Dr. Werber and Ann Hohenhaus, DVM, a third-generation veterinarian and staff doctor at NYC’s Animal Medical Center in New York City, both recommend checking with your veterinarian to ensure it’s safe to have your pet’s prescription filled at an outside pharmacy. In other words, don’t just dole these medications out from your own medicine cabinet without a visit to the vet first.
The synthetic corticosteroid prednisone is used to treat diseases in dogs, while prednisolone is prescribed for cats. “Corticosteroids are widely used in both cats and dogs to treat joint issues, arthritis, allergic reactions such as asthma, and other health conditions,” Dr. Werber says. While the average price of prednisone is $21.49, a SingleCare savings card reduces the price to less than $3.60.
You may recognize this medication by its brand name, Benadryl. Diphenhydramine is commonly used in humans to treat allergy symptoms like hay fever—and even topically to treat insect bites. It’s used similarly for pets to treat itchiness, runny nose, cough, sneezing, and skin irritation from allergic reactions.
Just be sure to talk to your vet before grabbing some at the pharmacy. There is a narrow safety margin for dosing in pets. Meaning, too much can cause serious side effects and even overdose. If you get the green light from your pet’s provider, your SingleCare card can help you net major savings. Diphenhydramine is available over the counter, but to use SingleCare savings, you need a prescription from your vet. With our coupons, the price is just over $3.75.
Furosemide is in a class of drugs known as diuretics. This medication is used to treat dogs and cats who are diagnosed with congestive heart failure and to manage fluid retention. Cats are more sensitive to this medication than dogs and require lower doses. There are drug interactions and side effects associated with furosemide, so it’s important to talk with your vet about the pros and cons of giving your pet this medication. When needed, using your SingleCare card can bring the cost down to just $4.
Prozac (fluoxetine) is prescribed for anxiety in both humans and dogs. It’s used primarily in pets who experience separation anxiety, although it has also been prescribed for aggression. “There are very limited psychiatric drugs available for pets,” Dr. Hohenhaus says. “With severe cases of anxiety, Prozac has proven to be effective after a medical cause has been ruled out.” While Prozac can retail for approximately $300 at many pharmacies, the cost for its generic can be lowered to $4 with a SingleCare discount coupon.
Amoxicillin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that is often prescribed to treat infections in humans as well as dogs and cats. It’s often prescribed to treat skin, respiratory, gastrointestinal and other bacterial infections in dogs and cats While the typical price for amoxicillin is $23.99, a prescription with your SingleCare savings card will cost as little as $5.27.
Meclizine, commonly known by brand names Bonine or Antivert, is often prescribed to pets that experience motion sickness—similar to its use in humans. It should be administered 30 minutes before a car trip, to prevent nausea, and has the potential to make your pet drowsy. Just be sure to check with your vet about dosage. People often take a 25 mg to 100 mg pill. For small dogs or cats, the dose may be as low as 4 mg. Meclizine is available over the counter, but with a prescription and your SingleCare card, the price can be as low as $5.75.
Metronidazole can treat digestive problems (read: diarrhea) for cats and dogs that are caused by inflammation of the colon or parasites such as giardia or trichomonas. Work with your veterinarian to determine if it’s necessary. Some studies show that a simple probiotic can be as beneficial. If needed, be sure to bring your SingleCare coupon to the counter. It brings the price to just under $7.70.
If your pet has severe enough anxiety that it can lead to injury—think, racing around manically during fireworks—your veterinarian may recommend a medication for that behavior. Trazodone is an antidepressant that can help with phobias for pets. Just be careful about following your vet’s dosing instructions. The medication is doled out much differently for cats and dogs than for humans. When you use your SingleCare card to save, the price can drop as low as $7.90.
Your dog could have an underactive thyroid. Or, your cat could have an overactive one. Methimazole can help to restore hormone balance for pets (even guinea pigs!) with hyperthyroidism. With SingleCare savings, the cost can be as low as $7.95 at the pharmacy counter.
As with any medication, discuss the best option for your pet. There are veterinary formulations made specifically for cats that your vet may recommend.
Your dog’s eyes have been red and runny ever since he kicked sand in his own face while digging a hole. Also known as neo/poly/dex, neomycin/polymyxin/dexamethasone is available as eye ointment or drops for pets with eye problems like conjunctivitis—often from foreign debris. Pets need a 5 ml suspension dosage. With a SingleCare coupon, the cost can be as low as $8.82.
Important safety considerations
Although some medications can be prescribed to both humans and pets, Dr. Hohenhaus cautions against sharing your own prescription with your pet. “It’s important to check with your veterinarian and get specific medication instructions before giving your dog any kind of medicine,” Dr. Hohenhaus explains. “Some medications may be approved for people but aren’t safe for pets.” Advice from your vet can also make sure you are treating the right condition and reduce the chance of drug interactions or unwanted side effects.
Dr. Hohenhaus says ensuring your pet receives the appropriate dosage is also a concern when considering a drug prescribed primarily to humans. “If a cat needs 25 mg of a medication and it only comes in doses of 250 mg for humans, you can’t just cut the pill into 10 different pieces,” Dr. Hohenhaus says. “Many medicine doses for pets are based on their weight and in order to obtain an accurate dosage, the prescription would need to be sent to a specialty compounding pharmacy.”
Dr. Werber also says it’s important to check with your pharmacist to ensure your pet’s medication doesn’t include xylitol, an artificial sweetener sometimes used to improve the taste in human medicines offered in liquid or chewable form. “Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs,” Dr. Werber says. “Even small amounts can cause seizures, liver failure, and even death in dogs and cats.”
When no medications exist for pets with certain health conditions, or treatment options are limited, Dr. Hohenhaus says that prescription medications for humans might be considered. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy Model State Pharmacy Act requires any pharmacy that dispenses veterinary drugs to have at least one current reference on veterinary medicines, such as Plumb’s Veterinary Drug Handbook, to reduce the risk of error when filling prescriptions for pets.
*Rankings based on lowest SingleCare price available from January 2019 through November 2020 for human medications commonly prescribed to pets.