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Tips for Living Well with Your Dog: Money and Insurance

Ways to save on prescription drugs

Second of a five-part series

Like people, many dogs have ongoing medical conditions - everything from arthritis, to stomach, to heart problems - that require the daily use of prescription drugs.

Many popular medications used to treat our loyal companions are the same as ones prescribed to people - such as Metronidazole for stomach; Keppra for seizures; Enalapril for heart conditions; Sotalol for arrhythmia; and Reglan for nausea, vomiting and heartburn.

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As our dogs age, they sometimes must take multiple drugs that can cost hundreds of dollars a month, and the prices of these medications for our loyal pals are getting increasingly harder for us to swallow.

The cost of brand-named drugs rose two-and-one-half times faster than the rate of inflation in 2007. And, in 2006, according to an AARP study, the price of popular brand-name drugs rose 6.2 percent - almost double America's general inflation rate of 3.2 percent.

Fortunately, some alternatives exist for purchasing prescription drugs for our pets that can save us substantial money - sometimes as much as 80 percent.

Try some of these methods:

  • Expand your horizon beyond the counter of the local veterinarian's office. The veterinarian's office is a magnificent, convenience place to buy medication. Prices are competitive with the neighborhood or big-chain pharmacy. But for daily maintenance drugs needed to treat long-term or lifelong conditions, the expense can be draining. So only purchase drugs from the veterinarian's office for short-term and emergency needs.
  • Consider purchasing prescription drugs at big-chain pharmacies if the condition requires treatment for a couple of months or so. The prices are similar to those at the veterinarian's office, but many accept discount programs that can save money on pet medications. Ask the pharmacy about possible discount programs. For example, the AAA prescription savings card can be used to buy drugs for pets at participating pharmacies such as CVS, Walgreen's, Rite Aid, Stop & Shop, Shaw's and Wal-Mart. You can save up to 35 percent on generic drugs and 15 percent on brand-name medications. For more information about the AAA prescription card, go to
  • Go generic and try pill splitting when possible. This can add up to enormous savings. One of my dogs had a heart condition which required a daily maintenance dose of 10 milligrams of Enalapril. The price at my local pharmacy was $29 for a month's supply. I located an online pharmacy that sold the generic equivalent called Vasotec, and I was able to purchase a three-month supply of the 20 milligram dose for $42. I split the pills in half to provide a six-month supply for my dog at a cost of $7 per month - a 76 percent savings!
The best way to save money on daily maintenance prescription drugs needed to treat long-term or lifelong conditions is to shop around online, find the lowest price and buy a three-month supply.

Prices can vary widely. Canadian pharmacies usually have the lowest prices, but they sometimes lack less-frequently used medications. So check U.S. online pharmacies
if the drug you are looking for is unavailable at a Canadian online pharmacy.

Some Canadian pharmacies have a best-price guarantee which promises to refund the difference if you find the drug at a lower price somewhere else after buying it from them. And others offer a lowest-price guarantee, agreeing to match the charge on any drug offered cheaper at any other online Canadian pharmacy. So shop around and compare prices.
Money and Pet Insurance:
Part 1: Save a bundle on food, products, care

 Part 2: Ways to save on prescription drugs 
Part 3: Tips for buying pet insurance 
Part 4: Dealing with pet insurance companies 
Part 5: Best way to insure your pet

Some online Canadian pharmacies also sell over-the-counter pet medications, such as flea-and-tick control and heart-worm treatments, as well as people medications that are used on pets. They frequently have lower prices on those people drugs.

So rather than just bark about high drug prices, take advantage of these opportunities to ease the financial bite on your wallet.

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