Did your last veterinary bill make you want to chew the upholstered furniture? One area where you can save money is on your pet’s prescription medicines. If your pet needs medication immediately or a onetime prescription, it makes sense to pay more at the vet’s just for the convenience and peace of mind. But if your animal requires multiple treatments or expensive pills for a recurring condition, you can use the same strategies that help you lower costs for your own medications.

Get a written prescription. Most vets are not willing to negotiate their medication prices, but they are willing to provide a prescription so you can shop elsewhere.

Enroll in discount programs for big-box stores and retail pharmacies. Examples: Costco members can sign up for its free prescription discount program and include pets as dependents. The program offers savings on popular animal prescription drugs ranging from Atopica (for itchiness and skin lesions) and Heartguard Plus (to prevent heartworm and other parasites) in dogs to methimazole (for hyperthyroidism) in cats. For pharmacies, the free program at Ea s yDrugCa rd. com allows you to get discounts on human and pet medications at 65,000 pharmacies including CVS, Rite-Aid and Walgreens as well as in-store pharmacies at Kroger and Safeway.

Shop reputable online veterinary pharmacies accredited by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). Buying through a large pharmacy website offers the biggest discounts because these suppliers have little overhead, buy in bulk and pass savings along to you. But be wary: Some websites, especially those located overseas, may deliver expired, mislabeled or even counterfeit medicines. To find NAPBapproved sites, which must meet high quality standards and comply with federal and state licensing requirements, go to Safe. Pharmacy/buy-safely. Accredited sites include 1800PetMeds.comAllivet.comChewy.comGoodRx.com…and VetRxDirect.com.

Ask your vet if your pet’s medication comes in a cheaper, generic version. Generic substitutes are not as widely available as those for human medications, but they may be available for particular conditions such as heartworm, high blood pressure, arthritis treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and wounds that need antibiotics.

Personalize your pet’s vaccine protocol. Animals must have certain vaccines to protect against common and life-threatening diseases such as parvovirus in dogs and feline distemper in cats. But you can avoid the expense of vaccines that aren’t pertinent to your pet’s geographical location and lifestyle. Examples: A chihuahua in a city apartment may not need a Lyme disease vaccine… and a dog who never goes to day care may not need the Bordetella shot for kennel cough. Also: Many cities have low-cost and weekend mobile clinics that offer discounted vaccinations.

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