Short Takes: 10/07

Buying your pet's medication on the Internet; rabies statistics from 2006

Vets, the Net and Cheaper Drugs

If you need refills of prescription medications for your cat – and youre tempted to buy the drugs at discount prices from a website – you might wonder whether that bothers your veterinarian.

Indeed it does, according to an article in the trade journal Veterinary Economics (Vol. 48, Issue 8). And vets have some persuasive reasons why you should continue to buy cat drugs from them.

But first, some reasons to think twice about your cat-care budget: The typical mark-up (beyond the cost to veterinarians) for dispensed medications is 150 percent. Heartworm, flea and tick-control products tend to be marked up 100 percent. And therapeutic food, which some cats eat throughout their lives, is sold by veterinarians at about 45 percent above cost.

Pet Medication From the Internet

Bev Caldwell


Then theres the so-called dispensing fee. Many veterinary practices tack on another $5 to dispense heartworm, flea and tick products. Items that must be counted or mixed can cost as much as $8 beyond the cost of the item. And some practices are charging a “minimum prescription fee” of $10 or $11, according to Veterinary Economics.

Now heres why Dr. Fred Metzger, who runs an animal hospital in State College, Pennsylvania, thinks we should continue to get cat meds from veterinarians: “Its better for the pet,” Dr. Metzger told Veterinary Economics. Veterinarians know all the drugs a pet is taking and whats contraindicated – that is, particular drugs that should not be taken for some reason. A Web-based retailer doesnt know much more than your credit card number. The attending veterinarian also knows what his or her tests show about the cat, and which drugs are licensed for sale in the United States.

And getting prescribed products from the vet is better for the pet owner, too, according Dr. Metzger. Because many vets know that their clients have the option to get products online or from “big box” pet supply stores, theyre starting to watch their prices. Often, medications from veterinarians go for the same or less than prices at “deep-discount” websites.

If thats not enough, more and more veterinary practices are happy to mail refills right to your door, says Dr. Metzger. All you have to do is ask.

More Rabid Cats Than Dogs Last Year

Heres a statistic to make you keep the cats rabies vaccinations up to date, even if thats not required by law – as it isnt in some states. Last year, at least 318 cats were reported with rabies in the United States, compared to 79 confirmed rabies cases in dogs.

According to the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (Vol. 231, No. 4) report, “Rabies Surveillance in the United States During 2006,” federal officials think that many animal-rabies cases go unreported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – but theyre pretty sure about rabies in humans. In 2006, there were three cases reported in the U.S. – two, in Indiana and Texas, were from bat bites, while one California woman was infected with the potentially fatal virus by a dog in the Philippines. v