Commentary by John Mikesell
Purchasing prescriptions medicines for your dog from your veterinarian is definitely convenient and often necessary from a health standpoint (for example, when your pet urgently needs the drug), but usually the more expensive option. The mark-up at veterinary offices usually starts at 100 percent above wholesale prices but it can be 1,000 percent in some cases.
In defense of veterinary offices, keeping a fully stocked and up-to-date pharmacy is usually not cost-effective. Small practices in particular can’t keep the myriad of medications that might need to be prescribed and used before their expiration dates.
Dedicated pharmacies have a higher turnover, receive volume discounts, and thus tend to be less expensive.
Following are a few programs that will help save you:
• The American Automobile Association offers AAA Prescription Savings. The program is free with membership and covers all members of the household including pets.
• Costco dispenses nearly 100 commonly used prescription drugs for pets, and claims it has prices lower than those charged by most veterinarians or online pet medication suppliers. Costco pharmacies are open to the public; you don’t need to be a member to buy prescriptions there. However, if you are a member, your pets qualify for the no-fee Costco Membership Prescription Program.
• The Walgreens Prescription Savings Club. It provides for discounts off the cash price of brand name and generic pet medications (human e-equivalents only). Pets can be enrolled as individuals ($25 fee) or as part of a family membership ($35 annual fee).
• Target has recently expanded the scope of its pharmacies and has started offering animal-specific medications.
• Kroger pharmacies has a program similar to Target’s with hundreds of pet medications available.
It does pay to shop around, considerable savings are available.
One more reminder, it has been a mild summer so far, but still way too hot to leave your dog in the car. Just don’t.