Experts offer advice for saving money on pet prescriptions

Last year, Americans spent almost $30 billion on veterinary bills.

In fact, more than a quarter of all pet owners worry they won't be able to afford their pet's medical treatments.

Diane Bryant loves her terrier mix pup, but knows how expensive it can get.
"We want our dogs to be healthy but it costs a lot more to keep them healthy than even us sometimes," she said.

Pet owners spend anywhere from $9,000 to more than $13,000 for medical treatments over the course of an animal's lifetime.

And costs can continue to rise if your pet needs a prescription.

Here's one way that the experts at Consumer Reports say may help: before you buy the meds directly from the vet, consider shopping around.

"You can also buy a lot of your pet's medication from a regular human pharmacy like CVS or Walgreens," said Lauren Friedman, Consumer Reports health editor.

Although there are some veterinary-specific drugs, a number of the meds prescribed to pets are the same as used for people - and some pharmacies will give you the same discounts on drugs they offer regular human customers.
CR says online pharmacies are another way you could save filling your pup's prescription.

But keep in mind, just like when buying your own medications online, it's important to make sure you buy them from a safe site.

Friedman suggests going to a site called Safe Pharmacy, because they screen online pharmacies for humans and for pets.

"It makes sure that they're storing their medication correctly, dispensing it correctly, and dispensing the right kind of medication," she said.

For one-time prescriptions, you might be willing to pay extra for the convenience of getting the drugs at your vet's office.

And you might not have a choice in an emergency. But especially for medications that you'll be buying repeatedly for a pet's chronic conditions, you should consider going elsewhere. Ask your vet to quote a price and give you a written prescription, then call around.

And like all medication - always follow the label's directions.

If you have any questions about the medication, ask your veterinarian!

One more tip that may save you money in the long run: The ASPCA recommends you spay or neuter your pet to prevent health problems, like uterine infections, breast tumors and testicular cancer.
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