If you have a cat or dog that needs certain medications, the place to fill the prescription is at a pet pharmacy. Generally, such a pharmacy is featured online. You can also obtain medicines through your veterinarian, if they keep them in stock, or at a local pharmacy. However, pet pharmacies offer the drugs and medicines specific to the needs of dogs and cats. Therefore, they generally are the best places to get a prescription dispensed.

  • Prescription Medicine: When you are prescribed a medicine for your dog or cat, it means that your vet believes the drug offers the best solution for treating your pet’s ailment. Many drugs available through prescription are only helpful for specific problems, and may actually be dangerous for your pet to take if used without a vet’s exam and diagnosis. Having these drugs offered in prescription form ensures they are used properly.
  • For example, according to veterinary hospital pharmacists, heartworm preventatives are tagged as “prescription-only” because the vet must first make sure the medicine is right for your pet. These types of preventatives target the larvae of adult heartworms. It’s important to note that if your dog or cat already has heartworms, this type of prescription won’t work; administering such a drug might result in a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction.
  • OTC Medications: Drugs of the over-the-counter variety, or “OTC” medications, do not need a prescription. Medicines are considered to be OTC when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves their regular use. The OTC versions of drugs are essentially a weaker form of a prescription.
  • Brand Names and Generic Names: The name that a drug goes by can be confusing in some animal hospital pharmacies, as drugs are known by both brand (proprietary) names and generic names. The generic name of a drug is the drug’s nonproprietary name. Therefore, a generic name is the same for all versions of the same medicine.
    • For instance, ibuprofen goes by several brand names, including Advil® and Motrin®. However, the generic name is ibuprofen. Therefore, when you buy the generic equivalent, you are purchasing ibuprofen. If you are purchasing the brand names, you are buying Motrin® or Advil®.
    • For the most part, generic drugs and brand name drugs are basically the same when it comes to purity, quality, consistency, and strength. However, it is best to purchase only those pet medications that vets prescribe. For example, you should ask for your vet to give you a prescription for a pain medicine rather than buy the OTC version.

Although OTC products are approved for use in humans, many of the medicines are not safe for pets. For example, acetaminophen can cause severe illnesses in dogs and cats – sometimes, even death. Therefore, you should always talk to your veterinarian before administering any type of drug to your dog or cat. Take your vet’s advice for ordering a medication for your pet. You will find, today, that buying your pet’s medicines online is both safe and more affordable. As long as the retailer aligns with your vet’s approval, a pharmacy that features pet medications is the best choice.