There is no denying it, pet care can be expensive. From necessary supplies, to toys, food, to trips to the groomer and the veterinarian, prices can soar quickly for a pet owner. This is especially true if their cat or dog becomes ill or injured. Pet parents have been enraged to find that what would be a reasonable cost for human medications are much higher a cost when it comes to prescriptions for pets.

According to Forbes, Jon Leibowitz (chairman of the Federal Trade Commission) claimed that prices for pet medications are on the rise. This is largely due to the variety of improved treatments and diagnostics available. Additionally, there is a growing emphasis on the need for preventative care treatments, especially in the realm of tick, flea, worm, and other parasite control issues. People tend to trust a vet’s prescription more than they do over-the-counter drugs, which is another reason the markups on medications are be so high. Here are a few ways you can dodge expensive medical care and drugs.

Don’t buy from the vet: When your cat or dog’s vet provides a prescription for something, the customer ends up paying a price marked up from wholesale, plus a dispensing fee. Some products can end up costing over 150% of the retail price, in addition to the $5-15 dispensing fee. If the pet is sick, and in need of drugs immediately, the owner will be more likely to purchase from the vet based on convenience rather than necessity. Once you have been handed the prescription, save money by asking your vet if the same medication is available at the local drug store. (Make sure the prescription given to you can apply to any store. If your vet is unwilling to do this, then you would do well to see someone else.)
In general, most treatments for pets can be purchased at Target, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, or Costco. If you want to avoid costly charges, though it might take a bit of extra effort driving to another store, you could save yourself a pretty penny.

Ask for alternative options. Another tip about saving money on pet medications is to ask the vet if there is a human drug equivalent that your pet would be able to use. Since oftentimes many of the core ingredients are the same, and perfectly safe for pets to use, pet parents have been able to save anywhere from $30-60 on meds by going this route!

Purchase online: If the matter is not an urgent one requiring medication to be administered that same day, another suitable option would be to purchase the products online. The 1-800-PetMeds site offers great deals, as does PetCareRX, and Drs Foster & Smith. If you qualify for discount programs, try to purchase through or AARP, which often cover pet drugs as well as those for humans.

(Note: Be sure to purchase from sites that are accredited pharmacies under the Veterinary-Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites [Vet-VIPPS] to ensure that federal and state licensing requirements are complied with.)

Invest in Wellness: There is nothing as inexpensive as a medical condition that doesn’t exist! Help your dog or cat avoid health problems. Prioritize balanced exercise every day, choose high-quality pet food (not just the ones you see happy commercials for, but those whose ingredients actually backup their claims). Preventative healthcare and lifestyle choices are the best ways to keep your pet in good health and your medical bills to a minimum.