Sticker Shock On Pet Meds

| October 4, 2012

You know the drill.

Your dog normally loves taking car rides, but the minute you have to take him to the vet, he knows. Don’t ask me how – but they always do. And he resists with the strength of a sumo wrestler, showing more agility in the moments that you are trying to wrangle them into your vehicle than he has since early puppyhood. You drive to the vet and wrestle him into the front door. You wait – and the minutes go by slower than molasses – in a room full of yipping, meowing, screeching, chirping, howling, wiggling, barking, jumping, equally-stressed-out, unhappy pets and owners, waiting for your turn.

Finally, you get to go back to your examination room, which at this point seems like a quiet sanctuary. Your vet gives your dog a thorough exam, followed by any necessary vaccinations. If you’re there for an extra special reason – say, your dog ate a pencil, followed by a dryer sheet, part of a towel and a giraffe toy (are my dogs really goats?), he gets “special” attention.

Finally, you get your prescriptions and medications and you’re out the door to the check-out desk. And just as you’re getting ready to breathe a sigh of relief, you’re handed a printout that tells how much that delightful trip just cost you, and you realize – again – why you can’t afford to buy yourself anything nice.

When did pet meds get so expensive? It seems that in the last 10 to 15 years, the cost of medications has skyrocketed. Just how much are pharmaceutical companies profiting off our pets’ medical needs? What exactly drives up the cost of our pets’ medications? Here is what I found:

It turns out that there is an enormous cost for research and development for pet medications. Many pet medications have the same active ingredients as their corresponding human drugs, only in much smaller amounts. But, even using familiar ingredients, it can take years (up to five years or more for dogs) to develop that particular medication and bring a safe, effective drug to market. The flea/tick/heartworm medication that you apply to your pet took nearly 10 years in research and millions of dollars before becoming available for pet use.

Pet medications must also be tested, studied and declared safe for your animals using the same standards as human medications. They also must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before they’re available for prescription and pet use.

As owners, it is our responsibility to do the best we can for our pets, and even though the medications can be expensive, they really are an important part of our pets’ care. By making sure they are vaccinated and receive their preventative medications, we have the power to prevent our animals from being bitten by ticks, infested with fleas and having worms invade their lungs and hearts.

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Category: The Weekly Scoop

About the Author (Author Profile)

Beth Green is a Louisville native and owns Paws Pet Care, a local award-winning pet sitting and dog walking company. She is a self-proclaimed “animaniac”. On a typical day you may find her caring for her fur-clients, spending time with her husband and three children, reading, writing, shopping or her two boxer-babies – Maddie and Riley – walking her around the block.

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