Pet Prescriptions Q & A
Our Mobile Laser Vet Team is here to advocate for your pet and to help guide you in the best options for your pet’s medications. When the veterinarian recommends a medication or preventative that requires a prescription, you have choices of where to purchase the prescription.
We offer an online home delivery pharmacy that can be accessed through our website at MobileLaserVet.com as well as an onboard pharmacy (we do keep limited stock on our mobile unit due to space). Our online pharmacy orders directly from veterinary manufacturers so you can be assured you are receiving the proper medication.
Alternatively, we will be happy to call or fax in your pet’s prescriptions to your local human pharmacy or a vet-reputable online pharmacy. If needed we also use a compounding pharmacy for special dosage and flavoring needs.
Below are some commonly asked question and answers about your pets and their medications.
Q: Why do I need a prescription?
A: When you are given a prescription for a medication for your pet, it means that your veterinarian has made a decision that the medication is recommended or necessary to treat your pet’s health problem. Many prescription drugs are only effective for specific problems, and may actually be harmful to your pet if used without that critical veterinary examination and diagnosis. Having these drugs available as prescription-only medications ensures that they are used appropriately.
Let’s take heartworm preventives as an example. Heartworm preventives are labeled as “prescription-only” because it’s critical that your veterinarian makes sure the medication is the right one based on your pet’s health status. If your dog (or cat) has heartworms, giving a preventive medication will not effectively treat the disease because the preventives don’t readily kill adult heartworms. In some cases, administering preventives to heartworm positive dogs can cause a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction.
There are drugs, called “over the counter” (OTC) drugs, that don’t require prescriptions. In some cases, such as the common headache medications for people, the OTC version is just a weaker strength than the prescription form. However, in many cases, a medication is only available with a prescription
Q: My veterinarian gave me a prescription for a pain reliever for my pet. Why can’t I just buy one of the over-the-counter pain relievers at my local drug store?
A: Don’t do it! Although these products are approved for use in people, many of them are not safe for pets. Our pets are not mini versions of us. They process the medication differently than a human in most cases. For example, acetaminophen (Tylenol® or Ibuprofen are the most common example) can cause severe illness, and even death, in pets. Even in a large breed one dose can prove fatal. Talk to your veterinarian before you give ANY medication to your pet.
Q: Can I get my pet’s prescription medications from Canada?
A: No. Drugs from Canada are not approved by the federal government for use in the United States. It is illegal for you to get medications shipped from Canada for yourself or your pet. It is also illegal for a veterinarian licensed in the states to approve out of country medications.
Q: The pharmacy told me I don’t need a prescription for a medication. Is that true?
A: For some OTC medications, it is true. However, if your veterinarian tells you that you need a prescription for the medication but the pharmacy tells you that you don’t need it, this might indicate that the pharmacy’s staff is either confused or misinformed, or the pharmacy’s ethics and standards are questionable. If this happens, talk to your veterinarian, contact the state board of pharmacy, or contact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine (FDA CVM)
Q: Why should I consider getting my pet’s medications from my veterinarian?
A: There are several reasons you should consider getting your pet’s medications from your veterinarian:
If your veterinarian has the medication in stock, you immediately have it and you don’t have to wait to get it from a pharmacy;
Your veterinarian or a veterinary technician can answer your questions, provide you with instructions for use, and can even demonstrate how to give your pet the medication;
If you order from a pharmacy and the medication isn’t properly shipped (for example, it is allowed to get too hot or too cold) or isn’t properly packaged, it could be ineffective or damaged and unusable; whereas if you get it from your veterinarian, you know it has been properly handled until it reaches you and they can inform you how to make sure you handle the medication properly.
Q: My veterinarian is telling me that I have to bring my pet in for an examination before they’ll write a prescription or authorize a refill. Why?
A: According to the AVMA Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics, it is unethical, and in most states, unlawful, for a veterinarian to write a prescription or dispense a prescription drug outside a Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR). In order to maintain a VCPR, your veterinarian must see your pet regularly – how regularly they need to see your pet depends on your pet’s health. If your pet is on a prescription medicine, your veterinarian may need to reexamine your pet, check blood work, or perform other tests to monitor your pet’s response to treatment and determine if the medication needs to be changed. For example, a dog being treated for hypothyroidism needs to be reevaluated regularly to make sure the dosage is having the effect it needs to have.
Q: Why do some medications cost more from my veterinarian than from an online store?
A: Online pharmacies may buy larger volumes of the medications at a time, so they may get bulk pricing that might be lower (or much lower) than your veterinarian pays – so, even with a markup, some medications from an online source are being sold to you for less than your veterinarian pays to get the medication
Q: What are the risks of ordering from an online pharmacy?
A: The amount of risk depends on the quality of the pharmacy. Human error is a risk with any source, but the risk is minimal if the proper procedures are in place.
Many online pet pharmacies are reputable. Some, however, may be businesses breaking Federal, State, and sometimes, International laws. These illegal online pharmacies may sell medicines that are counterfeit, outdated, mislabeled, or incorrectly formulated. The medicines may not contain the actual drug or may contain incorrect amounts of drug. Some may not work as well if the product is old (expired) or has been stored in conditions that were too hot, cold, or humid. Others may not have the proper directions for use. If you are unhappy with the products you ordered, you may not be able to get your money back from an illegal online pharmacy.
If there is a problem with the medication received from an online pharmacy, there might be a period of time when your pet isn’t getting its medication while you wait for the replacement medication to arrive.
Q: How do I know the pharmacy is trustworthy?
A: Prior experience with a pharmacy is a good indication – ask your veterinarian if there is a pharmacy they recommend. You can also inquire with the state board of pharmacy to determine whether a pharmacy is licensed within the state and the status of the pharmacy’s license.