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Where to fill your pet’s prescriptions

When your furry friend needs medication, the price can vary depending on where you pick up the Rx

You love your furry friends and would do anything for them—but that can sometimes come at a cost. Visiting the veterinarian can have a hefty price tag depending on the needs of Whiskers or Spot, especially when prescription medications are needed. Finding the right place to fill your pet’s medication could be more complicated than you think. Why? Prices can vary from place to place, and sometimes the difference can be substantial. So what are your options? 

Where to fill pet prescriptions

There are three main choices for filling pet prescriptions, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

1. The vet’s office

When your pet is diagnosed with an infection or chronic car sickness, your veterinarian can often provide the medication at the same visit. If it’s a treatment that is only used for cats or dogs, the veterinarian’s office is a great source for the Rx. Most offices keep common prescriptions in stock. It’s convenient and safe. Your vet knows all the ins and outs of pet meds. But, it might not be the cheapest option. Your vet may mark up prices, or tack on additional dispensing fees for this convenience.

2. An online pet pharmacy

You can also shop online at a pet pharmacy like chewy.com or 1-800-PetMeds and have your pet’s Rx directly delivered to your door. These sites are great sources for medications that are only prescribed to pets (not humans) especially for chronic conditions. But in time sensitive cases like an infection, you may not want to wait several days for authorization and shipping. 

When filling your pet’s prescription, don’t forget you will need authorization from your veterinarian, just like if you were getting your own prescription. “Prescriptions, whether online, at a human pharmacy, or your vet’s office all require a written prescription or authorization by your veterinarian,“ explains Stevie Aiken, DVM, a small animal and emergency veterinarian in Arkansas. Your vet can write or call in an Rx for your pet.

Before purchasing pet medications online, just be sure to check the reliability of the site. If you aren’t careful, you could accidentally purchase counterfeit drugs, receive pills that have no active ingredients—or worse—ingredients that may harm your pet. “There may be a price difference between purchasing at the pharmacy versus at your vet’s office,” Dr. Aiken says. “However the benefits of buying from your vet are non-generic medications, ensuring no counterfeit products (which can be an issue with some online retailers), and ease of purchase.”

3. Your local pharmacy

Did you know that some pet medications are the equivalent of what is given to humans and can be purchased at your local pharmacy? “There are many medications utilized in both human and companion animal medicine that overlap and many prescriptions can be purchased at a human pharmacy. Some include common broad-spectrum antibiotics, pain medications, and anti-nausea medications,” Dr. Aiken says.

Your local pharmacy and major pharmacies such as CVS, Walmart, Rite Aid, and Walgreens will all fill pet prescriptions if there is a human equivalent. You can even use your SingleCare coupon card to help save you money when purchasing them! 

“Certain brand-name medications or pet-specific medications, no matter where purchased, will be more expensive,” states Zonram Liao, DVM, veterinarian from Southern California and founder of Wellnergy Pets. There’s one caveat, “If you use a service like SingleCare, you may be able to find some coupon-applicable medications for a much cheaper price at a pharmacy. For my financially conscious clients, I definitely recommend this option.”

Just, be sure to mention that the Rx is for a four-legged member of your family when you head to the pharmacy counter. Certain inactive ingredients that are safe for humans are toxic for pets, like xylitol.

The most common human Rx prescribed to pets

Are you ready to save money by filling your pet prescriptions with SingleCare savings, but not sure if it is also prescribed for humans? According to SingleCare medical review board member Emma Ryan, DVM, these are the most commonly used prescriptions that may help Fido and also his human counterpart.

Pet medications available at your local pharmacy
Type of pill What it does Commonly prescribed medications
Antibiotics Your dog or cat might need antibiotics to help eliminate bacterial infections.
Anti-epileptic or anticonvulsants Prescriptions in this category treat seizure disorders, like epilepsy.
Antifungal This category commonly treats skin infections for pets like dermatitis.
Behavior These medications can help alleviate anxiety in pets—especially if it’s leading to behavioral issues or injury.
Cardiac Dogs and cats can have high blood pressure or heart conditions, similar to those in humans. These medications can help to stabilize these problems.
Eye medications Your pet may need one of these eye medications because of foreign debris or because of infection like conjunctivitis.
Pain These medications will help in alleviating pet pain.
Thyroid These prescriptions can help restore your pet’s hormone balance. 
Other This category encompasses medications that pets might need for other chronic conditions like asthma, allergies, arthritis, or diabetes.