Can You Buy Pet Meds Without a Prescription? How to Safely Buy Pet Medication

A Prescription Pad, Pen and a Bottle of Pills

Frontline Plus for Dogs

Flea & Tick
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Just like with human medication, some pet meds are available to buy over-the-counter without a prescription. Find out which ones are safe to buy without a prescription and which ones require the supervision of a certified vet.

Whether your pet has a short-term ailment that needs to be treated temporarily or a condition that requires a monthly order of meds, administering medicine to a pet should always be done under the supervision of a veterinarian. And some pet meds will require a prescription from your vet in order to purchase them safely. Learn what types of medications are okay to buy over the counter or online without a prescription, and why other medicine must come from an accredited source that will always ask to see a prescription.

Do All Pet Meds Require a Prescription?

Not all medicines for pets require a prescription. Some over-the-counter medicine sold directly for pets is available, and other over-the-counter drugs for humans are also safe to use on pets. But any medicine administered to a pet, even home remedies, requires a thumbs up from a pet professional. Be sure to check with your vet before purchasing or using over-the counter or home remedies when your pet is sick. Of course, medicine that requires a prescription must also always be supervised by a veterinarian.

Types of Over-the-Counter Pet Meds

Some flea and tick medicine like Frontline or Advantage do not require a prescription. And different types of human medication can be administered to pets at a vet’s discretion. Though they are safe for humans, avoid administering acetaminophen (i.e. Tylenol) and ibuprofen (i.e. Advil) to pets, and never give Pepto Bismol to cats. Your vet will help determine what over-the-counter drugs are safe for your pet, and also advise you on dosing based on your pet’s size and breed, duration of use, and what symptoms to look out for while using the medicine.

Prescription-Required Medication

Legitimate pet medication vendors will require a prescription for all non-over-the-counter drugs. For the safety of your pet, any medicine that requires a prescription must be recommended by a professional who is certified to diagnose a pet with conditions. If your pet is sick, do not look up symptoms of the ailment and buy a drug to treat it based on your own diagnosis. Administering medicine to a pet for the wrong type of ailment can be harmful, and even fatal. This also stands for preventative medicine, and even some nutrient-supplemented dog food. The American Heartworm Society recommends that preventative heartworm medication be prescribed by a veterinarian.

Be Wary of Retailers Selling Pet Meds Without a Required Prescription

While there are many options for purchasing pet meds online, getting a cheap price doesn’t always pay off in the end. The FDA warns against buying medicine from uncertified sources. Sites that are unregulated may make fraudulent claims, sell drugs that have expired, or distribute unapproved medicine. If you do not have a prescription from your vet, going around the process by using an unaccredited site can be dangerous -- your pet’s health is not worth the bargain!

Look For Vet-VIPPS Certification on Pet Medication Websites

If you are buying your pet meds online, the Vet-VIPPS approval will let you know that the site is safe and legitimate. The Veterinary-Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site is an accreditation program of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, and you can find their seal on sites that have been verified (including

More on Pet Meds

How Are Pet Prescription Cards Different From Insurance?
How to Safely Buy Budget Pet Meds
Pet Insurance Costs and Alternatives

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  • Carley

    1/31/2014 8:22:30 PM

    my pet needs a anti inflamitory she has had injurys in the three years before she was mine.My first vet visit with her she sprained her neck.Shes very active and I hate my tile floors.She runs an slides on them an has minor pain now no broken anything but she get sore off an on when shes to active.

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