Not All Pain and Arthritis Medicines Are Priced Equally! (chs. 1-3)

Dog on an anti-inflammatory medicationIs your dog on an anti-inflammatory medication such as Metacam, Rimadyl or Deramaxx? If so, you could ask your vet if they could switch your dog to another brand called Previcox.

In my experience, Previcox is about 2/3 the price of the others and it seems to be just as effective with the same degree of safety.

It comes in a tablet that is easily divided if necessary to get the correct dosage.

If your dog is on Metacam, you can ask your vet if they can order in generic Meloxicam. This is a pill version of Metacam that is used in people. It is less expensive.

However, because it is a pill and not liquid it is sometimes hard to get the correct dose for every size of dog.

Ask your vet to write a prescription

If your pet is being prescribed medication you can ask your vet if they are willing to write a prescription so that you can have it filled at a human pharmacy.

Often the prices are significantly less expensive.

Some vets will charge a prescription writing fee to do this, but some will quite happily do it for no charge.



This topic is a little controversial in veterinary medicine. If you search the internet you will find all sorts of tirades of people who are upset because of what their vets charge for medicine. Although you may be able to save some money by getting your prescription filled at a pharmacy, it may not always be practical.

There are a few reasons why vets often do not like to write a prescription, or charge a fee to do so:

  • It takes far more time for the vet to do this. They need to look up what strength the human version of the drug comes in. In some cases they need to call the pharmacy to determine if the drug is available in human form. Sometimes, the pharmacy calls back hours later and needs to talk to the vet because there is a problem with the prescription. This can take up a good amount of time and this time could be spent seeing another patient. Therefore, not only does the vet make no money on the medication, but they also lose money because their time is taken up doing research.
  • Often pharmacies will fill the script with a generic brand. In many cases this is acceptable but sometimes the generic brand is not as effective as the name brand.
  • I have had pharmacies refuse to fill some scripts for me because they felt there was an error on the script. For example, I sometimes will write a prescription for valium tablets because we do not carry them in my practice. Pets take a significantly higher dose of valium per pound than people do. Once, the pharmacy thought my dose was in error and as my clinic was closed when the prescription was being filled the pharmacist could not confirm it with me and refused to fill the prescription. In another instance, a pharmacy assumed I had made a mistake on a prescription for insulin (but I hadnʼt) and changed it so that the animal was getting 10x the dose he was supposed to get! (The cat went into insulin shock and survived, but after an expensive emergency visit).
  • Part of what you are paying for when you buy medicine at the vetʼs office is for the ability to consult with the vet on that medication. When I sell you a bottle of medication, I spend a lot of time explaining the side effects, how to use it and more. Human side effects may be different than in pets. Pharmacists are not trained in animal medicine.

Another thing to consider is that a vetʼs office is a business that has to make money to pay for the equipment in the clinic and the staff that run it. If everyone bought their medication elsewhere then eventually other prices (such as the office visit fee) will go up.

With all of that being said, it never hurts to ask if your vet is willing to write a prescription. However, if the vet may not agree that it is a good idea.

Buy pet toys and treats elsewhere

In most vet’s offices there are toys and treats available for sale. We do this because we know that many people will want to buy their pet a treat because they want to make up for the “bad stuff” that they had to go through in the vet’s office!

These treats and toys are usually more expensive than you can buy in the pet store. The reason for this is that pet stores can buy things in bulk where we only sell small amounts.

Some products that vet’s offices sell that you can buy for less at a pet store include:

  • rawhides
  • dentabones
  • dentastix
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • non-prescription shampoos
  • greenies
  • pill-pockets

…and more!

Article by Dr. Marie

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