Thursday, March 26, 2015

7 Ways to Save Money on Prescription Medications for Pets

All three of my dogs have taken prescription medication at some point, and big boy Bruce will be on his medication for the rest of his life.  As with humans, prescription medications for dogs can be hard on the wallet.  However, there are ways to save some money on prescription medications for dogs.

Ask for a written prescription
I cannot stress this one enough.  Oftentimes, medications prescribed by veterinarians for dogs are human medications that are available at commercial pharmacies, particularly antibiotics.  Cephalexin  (Keflex) is a frequently prescribed antibiotic for dogs.  Both Neeko and Faolan have taken it for urinary tract infections.  Both times I purchased the antibiotics from the vet.  Both times I paid nearly $40 for a 7-10 course of antibiotics.  Guess what?  It is available at many commercial pharmacies for $4.00.  That is a 90% savings.

Dogs with hypothyroidism are prescribed soloxine, which is levothyroxine for dogs.  The levothyroxine for humans is the exact same medication, and widely available for $4.00 a month. Dogs are prescribed human steroids, such as prednisone. Dogs with congestive heart failure are sometimes prescribed furosemide (Lasix) and enalapril (Vasotech), which are both human medications...

Some dogs with behavioral issues are prescribed fluoxetine.  It's Prozac.  And the generic is cheap at human pharmacies.

If your dog is prescribed a human medication, depending on where you live you are not necessarily obligated to purchase it directly from the vet. 

Call around
So you've been given a written prescription for your dogs medication.  Don't just drop it off at the first pharmacy you see on your way home.  Call different pharmacies in your area, and ask what the cost of the medication is, without insurance.  You will need to know the medication name, dose, frequency (how many pills, and how many times per day) and amount of pills to be dispensed.

Bruce takes amitriptyline, twice a day.  It is the generic for the human drug Elavil.  The price for his medication each month varies from $8.00-$45.00 at three different pharmacies near me.  That is quite a wide range.

There's an app for that
It's called GoodRx.  It produces the same results as calling around, but is much quicker.  It uses your location to find the best prices on prescription medications at pharmacies near you.

Ask for them.  Ask the vet.  Ask the pharmacy.  Contact the drug manufacturer.  There are apps, such as the previously mentioned GoodRx, and Rx Savings! that offer coupons or discounts on many medications.

Veterinary medications
Some medications for dogs have human equivalents that are safe to give, others do not.  Obvious examples are heartworm preventatives and flea medications.  Rimadyl (carprofen) is another common example.  Compare the price at your vet's office to that of online pharmacies, such 1800petmeds or Drs. Foster & Smith.  Ask your vet if they would be willing to fax the prescription there, or sign off on the online pharmacy supplying your pet's medication.  Ask about coupons, rebate offers, or consider contacting the manufacturer directly.

Pill Splitting
If your pet is taking a medication twice a day or more frequently, ask the vet about splitting the pills.  Sometimes a higher dosage of a medication is the same price for the same amount of pills, and some medications are made to be safely cut in half.

For example, the cost for 30 tablets of a drug at 50 mg may be the same as the cost of 30 tablets of the same drug at 25 mg. If the medication is scored, and safe to be split in two, you could get double the amount of medication by asking your vet to write the prescription for the higher dose.

If all else fails
If you have exhausted all possible resources, and cannot afford a medication for your pet, you can ask the vet about equivalents or alternatives.  Sometimes different medications in the same class of drugs produce the same effect, but for a cheaper cost.

For example, enalapril is sometimes prescribed for dogs with heart problems.  Lisinopril is a medication is the same family of drugs that is also sometimes prescribed for dogs.  Lisinopril can be up to 60% less expensive, depending on location and pharmacy used.

For most, having a pet on prescription medication should not equate draining your bank account.  Be open with your vet, explain your desire to find a lower cost.  They should be willing to help and accommodate you.  If not, maybe it is time to shop around for a new vet.


  1. Ciara takes Keppra for her seizures. It is a human medication. It is very pricey at most pharmacies. If anyone out there uses it for their dogs, go to Costco -they have THE best price for it of anyone. 1/4 the cost of most pharmacies.

    Woos - Phantom, Ciara, and Lightning

  2. Wow, these are fantastic tips!! Thanks!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  3. Wow, thanks for the tips, I'm going to start calling around!

  4. Great tips and we found we saved loads by buying on line. Have a super Saturday.
    Best wishes Molly


Thanks for the howls!!