Did you know that pharmaceuticals prescribed by your veterinarian do not always have to be dispensed by your veterinarian? Did you also know that many veterinarians charge a “dispensing fee” for medications given to you directly from their office? Let’s talk about the dispensing fee for a moment. The dispensing fee can be either and “add on” to your bill of perhaps a minimal amount of $5.00 or the dispensing fee can take the form of a “minimum dispensing fee charge” of something in the neighborhood of $16.00 which translates into something like this. If the medication is, for example priced at $12.00, your total charge is $16.00. If the medication is priced at $16.00 or more, than your total charge is the cost of the medication.

Common tick and flea, as well as heart worm protection can be purchased through many online websites with a price range that begs for comparison shopping. Keep in mind that products like Frontline do not require a prescription. Many offer free shipping as well. Prescription drugs simply require a prescription request form from your veterinarian. In fact, the online website you choose to fill your canine prescription with, will in most cases contact your veterinarian for you and request the signed prescription form. If you request a written prescription directly from your veterinarian, you can simply mail it in. That’s pretty easy.

Now lean in and listen closely, because this is important. Did you know that many prescribed canine medication may also be used for humans as well? Then, you can take a written prescription for that canine medication to your local pharmacy or supermarket pharmacy to have it filled. In addition, because your dog does not have applicable insurance coverage, you can insist on a discount card. Without naming well known and advertised, major chain store pharmacies, most have a discount they can apply for those that have no health insurance. I have paid approximately one third of the price for medications in a supermarket chain pharmacy compared to what I would have had to pay if purchased directly from a veterinary office. Why? The answer is simple. Your veterinary hospital cannot possibly buy pharmaceuticals in the quantities that the chain stores or online pharmacies can. However, once in a while your veterinary office price for a particular medication is competitive, so simply take the time to ask questions, do a little research, make a call or two and if it is important to you to save a few dollars on medications for your dog, it might be worth the effort.

One more way to possibly save on the cost of canine medications, is to find out the quantity being prescribed. Sometimes, the veterinary office will dispense or write a prescription for a large amount of tabs or capsules, for a new medication your dog has never taken before; lets say perhaps ninety. Then one week later, that particular drug is not effective, or has side effects, or tests come back and the medication needs to be changed for one reason or another. That medication may not be returnable. I will say “most” but tend to believe that no veterinary office or pharmacy will take back a medication, once it has been purchased. So, ask if you can start with a smaller amount, let’s say thirty tabs or capsules, with a refillable prescription.

If your dog is on a “controlled drug” which means it is controlled by The Controlled Substances Act (CSA),  the statute prescribing federal drug use policy under which the manufacture, importation, possession, use and distribution of certain substances is regulated, and it is available for purchase from a source other than your veterinary office, all you need to do is get a prescription written on on a special  tamper-resistant prescription pad from your dog’s veterinarian.

This information is intended solely for the purpose of helping to afford veterinary care, which is unquestionably something that should be available to all dogs not only when illness or injuries occur, but as part of a routine wellness program.

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