Eight Ways To Save Money On Pet Medication (From A Vet)

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The cost of everything seems to be going up these days, and pet medication is no exception. But, with some careful planning and strategies, you can reduce the cost of your dog or cat’s medication and pharmacy bills – without having to make any tough choices. 

Here’s a list of eight ways to cut your pet medication costs, right from a veterinarian. It’s brought you to by legions of thrifty clients whose money-saving tips have opened my eyes to the many ways you can safely get pet drugs and products more affordably.

Yes, a vet can learn a lot from her clients. All she has to do is ask the right questions

So, if you spend any amount of money on pet prescriptions (and almost all of you will qualify), you’ll definitely want to read this.

More Options Than Ever Before

Historically, veterinarians haven’t typically worked like your family doctor when it comes to drugs. 

Instead of sending you elsewhere to purchase your meds, we’ve always offered you drugs on site. Rather than sending you home with a prescription you need to have filled at the pharmacy, we’ve cut out the middleman and made sure you didn’t have to make two trips.

Convenient, right? Trouble is, with the rising cost of pet drugs (this is big business!), this scenario hasn’t always been so easy to sustain. 

Veterinarians, who have always been granted exclusive access to these drugs, are no longer in full control of their sale. Other outlets are now available for pet owners who wish to purchase them elsewhere at a discount.

Eight Tips To Save Money On Pet Medication

Here are the best eight strategies to cut the costs of your pet’s medication and pharmacy bills: 

  1. Prescription Plans

  2. Big Box Pharmacies

  3. Bulk Buying

  4. Online Pharmacies

  5. Alternative and Generic Drugs

  6. Asking For a Better Price

  7. Split Pills (Sometimes)

  8. Pet Insurance

Prescription Plans

I don’t normally go out of my way to praise big box superstores, but some of these are wooing you with such low prices and attractive family plans that I can’t help but point them out. 

Many generic drugs are available for a pittance of their typical price. That is, if you sign up for a plan. At Walgreens, for example, pets are included in a $35–a-year family plan.

Big Box Pharmacies

Sure, it’s tremendously convenient to get your one-time-only drugs at the vet. But, you might want to re-think that if the hospital’s markup means your big dog’s cephalexin comes to $60 or more at the vet’s office.

Note: Your veterinarian isn’t typically cheating you! The thing is that we can’t even buy these drugs at such low prices. It usually takes big orders in huge quantities to get those low prices.

Bulk Buying

Sure, each drug has limits on how many pills (or ounces) constitute such a stash. But, if your pet’s on long-term doses of levothyroxine (Soloxine), methimazole (Tapazole) or fluoxetine (Prozac), for example, you should save quite a bit by buying in quantity. 

90-day supplies are typically cheaper than 30-day supplies. But ask your local pharmacy for their policies.

Note: Some drugs can’t be offered in these higher quantities. Either because of a rapid expiration date or their governmentally-controlled nature, some medications must be doled out in smaller quantities.

Online Pharmacies 

Online drugstores are another possibility for pet-Rx price shoppers. If veterinary-specific drugs are what you seek, this is probably the best way to find them at the lowest prices. 

Beware: Some sites are not what you think they are. Stick to outlets that are well-known, trusted, and have a reputation to protect.

Alternative and Generic Drugs

Let’s say your pet takes Baytril (an expensive pet-only antibiotic) for seven consecutive days a month (as prescribed by his dermatologist). Will ciprofloxacin do? 

In some cases, the answer will be “yes.” This drug is available on most of the plans I researched above.

Caution: Be sure you’re using what you think you are! Many “vet-only” products like flea and tick meds are available elsewhere for less. “Elsewhere” may mean the local big box supermarket or pet store. 

It may also mean an online outlet or the local feed store. 

The problem is that way too many counterfeit versions of these products are making the rounds at these places (I know because I’ve seen them). 

Asking For A Better Price

This is how it’s done: Research the prices of the drugs you need. Ask the receptionist or practice manager what the drugs you need will cost you. 

Armed with this information, you can now ask for a better price. It might not happen, but it’s always worth a try.

Of course, this approach works best if you buy in larger quantities and you’re a fabulous client in every other way.

Split Pills (Sometimes)

This only works if tablets are scored and the manufacturer says it’s okay. I would be very cautious otherwise. 

But, if you ask your vet for a bigger scored pill or a stronger concentration, this can really work out in your favor. 

For some drugs, it’ll cut your costs smack in half. For others, it won’t be possible.

Pet Insurance

Pet insurance won’t help if your dog or cat already needs medication due to a pre-existing condition. But, you’ll save money down the road on pet prescriptions, along with bills from any other illnesses or accidents, with insurance. 

And, while you can’t get coverage for something that’s already happened, Embrace also distinguishes between “temporary” and “permanent” pre-existing conditions

In some cases, you can get coverage for illnesses your pet has experienced in the past but hasn’t had in 12 months or longer.