Who doesn’t like to save money? We all do, right? The rising cost of healthcare for all of us means saving money on a medication purchase can amount to quite a few dollars. And by now, most of us have heard of 1-800-Pet-Meds and similar competitors offering to fill and refill our pet’s prescriptions over the phone or online for less – and without an additional visit to your veterinarian. Sounds like a great deal, right? Not always.
There’s more to it than just purchasing what you think your pet needs. Many things can play into what medication your veterinarian prescribes for your pet, how it should be administered, and what is safe. We recommend that you weigh any cost savings you might receive against the unique attention and expertise that your pet receives from your veterinarian.
Consider these points the next time you need to purchase medication for a pet:
Your veterinarian knows your pet and your family (both 2-legged and 4-legged). He or she is familiar with your pet’s specific health needs and the environment where you live.
Medications are usually dosed on a weight basis (milligram per pound or milligram per kilogram). It is important that your veterinarian determines your pet’s weight and calculates the correct dosage to achieve the desired effect from the medication. Your pet’s current health condition my also alter the final dosage.
There are several medications that should not be administered until your veterinarian determines that it is safe for your pet to be given them. For example, heartworm preventatives should not be administered to dogs with active heartworm infestations because it can lead to a fatal reaction. Therefore, it is important to consult your pet’s veterinarian to determine what heartworm prevention program and timetable best suits your individual pet.
Dog and cat owners should keep in mind that their cats are not small dogs, nor are their dogs large cats. Many medications that are administered to dogs are not safe for cats (they can be fatal), and the reverse is also true.
Many medications need to be reconstituted or diluted specifically for your pet. Some medications must be kept in a controlled environment or refrigerated. The medications that are shipped to your veterinarian are properly packaged and delivered under controlled temperatures so you don’t have to worry about receiving “spoiled” medicines that were exposed to temperature extremes, sunlight, moisture, etc.
Some medications require follow-up monitoring for adverse reactions or dosage adjustments. If an adverse reaction does occur, it is important to have established a veterinary-client-patient relationship to ensure that your pet receives appropriate medical attention on an emergency basis. An adjustment to the dosage may need to be made after lab tests and/or examinations are performed.
Download the PVMA fact sheet on this topic here.