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Can I Buy Drugs From The Pharmacy For My Pet?


Pets like humans can suffer from different conditions. Drug management of certain conditions in pets may be similar to humans. In fact, some conditions are treated with drugs used by humans under the management of a qualified veterinarian.

For example, Piriton (Chlorphenamine) can be used to manage allergies in dogs or other pets. In this post I discuss if drugs available from the pharmacy can be bought for pets.

Quick FAQ

Can a drug for humans be used for pets legally?
Veterinarians can prescribe approved human drugs to pets in some circumstances.
Can you get pet drugs at a normal pharmacy?
If there is a human equivalent, your local pharmacy and big pharmacies such as CVS, Walmart, Rite Aid, and Walgreens will all fill pet prescriptions.

Can You Buy Medicines From The Pharmacy For Your Pet?

No. It is illegal to sell or supply human medicines for animal use unless it is prescribed by a vet and under ‘the veterinary cascade’. As frustrating as it may be, you will most likely be refused a sale of drugs from the pharmacy if product you are trying to buy is for your dog or cat or any other animal.

In practice I have seen many customers trying to buy Chlorphenamine (Piriton) from the pharmacy under recommendation by a vet. Verbal recommendations by a vet to get drugs licensed for humans from the pharmacy do not give the right of the purchase. This practice is not allowed.

Quick FAQ

Can you pet meds without prescription?
Some OTC pet meds can be purchased without a vet prescription. But most of the pet meds need a proper valid vet prescription.

What Is ‘The Veterinary Cascade’?

In simple terms, a licensed veterinary medicine should be used in the first instance for treatments of animals. If this option is not available and no other medicines for the treatment of other animal species can be used, human medicine can be considered on a veterinary prescription.

Vets are not allowed to recommend licensed human medicines for pets simply because they are cheaper. According to ‘cascade’, a justification for the course of treatment based on animal welfare needs to be present (GOV UK, 2015).

Can I Get My Vet Prescription Filled In The Pharmacy?

Providing a vet prescription meets all legal requirements, a supply of drugs from the pharmacy can be made. A vet prescription is treated in the pharmacy the same as a private prescription.

This means paying customers covers the cost of the medication plus a small markup. Please note some pharmacies have a minimum charge for private prescriptions, which are usually around £5, but can be set at higher.

How Long Is A Vet Prescription Valid For?

Legally, a vet (and private) prescription is valid for 6 months from the day it was written, however, a vet may decide to limit the prescription expiry date. The only exemption to this rule is repeated vet prescription.

In some cases, a vet may allow for the same prescription to be repeated a number of times. This has to be clearly stated on the prescription. In this case, the first dispensing needs to be done within 6 months of the prescription date, following which there is no legal time limit for the prescription to expire.

A veterinarian can set a time limit for dispensing all repeats.