Vet 101: Pet Prescription Precautions

Our vet, Dr. Rich Goldstein wanted to write about a subject he’s faced recently requiring vigilance. The steps outlined below might save the life of your pet.

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Recently, I have had two instances where I prescribed medication for a patient to be filled at a local pharmacy, and the pharmacy either filled the wrong medication, or printed the wrong instructions. Luckily, the error was caught, and both pets were unharmed. But it points out the importance of the partnership that must exist between everyone associated with the care of our pets: from veterinarians, to owners, to pharmacists, to cat sitters, and everyone in between.
It’s very common for veterinarians to prescribe medications through human pharmacies (or online pharmacies) for our patients. There are several reasons for this: sometimes the medications are the same, sometimes human or online pharmacies can fill it cheaper due to their arrangements with drug companies, and sometimes it’s just more convenient for a client to visit their local pharmacy or order online.

Now, my point is not to disparage human or online pharmacies. Pharmacists are a very integral part of medical care, for both humans and animals. But, sometimes mistakes are made. That’s why it’s important for pet owners to be vigilant about making sure they fully understand the treatments and medications begin prescribed.

We often use medications for our pets in different dosages, forms, and frequencies than humans. So, I urge you to take the following precautions when your pets’ prescriptions are filled – and that includes your local pharmacy, online pharmacies, and even at your veterinarian’s office:Ask your veterinarian to write down for you the exact prescription that you are filling at the pharmacy, and compare that to what is written on the bottle. This includes the type of medication, the amount you are to be giving, how often you are to give it, and how it is to be given.

  1. Understand what this medication is, and why it is being prescribed.
  2. If there are any discrepancies or questions, have the pharmacist contact your veterinarian for clarification, before administering it to your pet.
  3. If the prescription is filled by your veterinarian’s office, always double check the bottle before leaving, and make sure it is exactly as the doctor prescribed.
  4. If the prescription is filled by your veterinarian’s office, always double check the bottle before leaving, and make sure it is exactly as the doctor prescribed. 

Mistakes are infrequent. But when it comes to the health of our pets, you can’t be too careful. The more eyes and ears that are double-checking, the greater the chances of successful treatment.

Be vigilant, and be well.

Dr. Richard Goldstein DVM
Mobile Vet Squad
Have a question for Dr. G? Email it to
with Vet 101 Q & A in the subject line.
Many of our readers have been concerned about Merlin, our 18-year-old Siamese. Dr. G. paid us a visit on Tuesday. Merlin has kidney disease CRF and chronic inflammation of a canine tooth. Subcutaneous fluids and an enema were administered for dehydration and constipation.Antibiotics will continue one week out of every month. The time has come for more frequent vet visits and a sub-q schedule decided upon when Dr. G returns in a couple weeks. Merlin will be carefully monitored with his comfort levels being our highest priority. Thank-you for your kindness and concern.

21 thoughts on “Vet 101: Pet Prescription Precautions”

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  2. Thank you for the advice. Both are pets and us are in danger if we are’t vigilant for on their behalf, as well as for ourselves. My girls’ vet fills prescriptions she prescribes right there at the clinic, and I’m thankful for it, too. I hope Merlin is feeling better.

  3. Thanks for more great advice! This is something that we should always do for our pets and ourselves. People, unfortunately, are not mistake proof.
    We hope that our dear Merlin is feeling a bit better. Please give him a little kiss on the head for us and tell him how much we love him and that we are sending him all the purrs we can possibly generate! Much luv to you and Merlin Skeeter and Izzy and Mom Kat >^..^<

  4. merlin; dood, sorree ya had a “ouchy” kind of a visit; we wuz wonderin if yur mom//vet haz ever hurd of usin puree pumpkin for dehydration and constipation… HAS to be PURE pumpkin; knot pie filling; but it aids in both hydration AND relieves constipation

    we iz incloodin just one link on de subject but yur mom can finds mor:

    hope ewe R doin well, N thanx for de tips above !!

  5. This is very good advice. Once the mom got a prescription from our vet for antibiotics and they gave her the wrong dose pills. Fortunately the mom looked at the package before giving me the pill and realized the error. The vet office apologized profusely, but it was a good thing the mom checked! Now she checks all the time and makes sure she understands the dosage to be given.

    We’re purring for Merlin and hoping he feels better.


  6. Very important. When we got meds for Chey at the pharmacist and looking at the dosage they asked us, Is this for a Cat? before filling it to clarify why the dosage was such that it was. We said yes. The instructions were there along with a pamphlet they gave us on pilling the cat-This was Bartell’s in WA and thinking about that service now makes us very impressed with them. I wish we had a Bartells in Duvall too!

  7. Thank you for this article but I wish veterinarians would explain why they do tack on a sometimes a very excessive profit for medications they use or prescribe. I have had vets charge from anywhere from 45 to 90 for a convenia shot and 25 dollars for amoxicillian that publix provides for free or two dollars.Same for revolution. Some vets will match the online prices so this tells me they are getting it for a bulk discount. So if I’m already paying for the exam and any procedures (like 14 to trim a cat’s nails which vets in the 1970s used to do for free as part of the exam and believe it or not used to clean out the ears, why the hike in precribed medicines? I believe if prices were not so high and unnecessary vaccinations were eliminated more people would visit the vet more frequently for preventive care.

    1. Not all vets are the same. Our vet makes no profit on prescriptions and includes extras like nail trimming. It’s another reason to communicate with your vet ahead of time of what is included.

      1. boomermuse, it’s good to hear that there are still vets like that out there. I’ve tried many vets in my area and they are all about the same. I never seem to leave a vet visit for my cats with less than 300 due after bloodwork, medication, office vist charge, etc. I live in South Florida, where are you. also some of the vets absolutely refused to write a prescription, although i think this might be required under law. They claim that the online sources can not be trusted. But I’m not so sure this is correct and there have been many problems with legitimate pharmacy sources getting bad medicines and selling them. But who wants to argue with a vet you have to entrust with your pet’s health and well being? I wish they would explain themselves if they have a good reason. I still believe that vets could earn a good living charging more fairly and thus encouraging more customers (i would say “patients” but to me we are just customers.

  8. Excellent advice.

    I do this for all our human scripts, and if we get any prescriptions for our cat Cheddar, who is in VESCONE in Waltham, MA with catheterization for crystals, I will be doubly certain.

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