Why do we need prescriptions for flea/heartworm meds?

Every dog in the country is on flea/hw prevention. Why do we have to go through the hassle of getting a prescription every year to get it?


I was JUST asking myself that.
I’ll try going to a vet in my town and ask for what I need there, although since my pets are not “patients” there I don’t know if they’ll agree…
I don’t want to ask the vet I’ve used until now for my cat and dog: they hiked their prices big time (new location, much bigger practice, new vet fresh out of vet school…), and push for unnecessary exams etc.
I want to find an old-style, no-nonsense, affordable vet…don’t know if they’re still around.


If you live in a country where EVERY dog is on flea/hw preventative, consider yourself lucky. Here in the US, that is far from the case, especially in low-income, high stray, high mosquito areas (like much of the south).

Prescription drugs require a current veterinarian/client/patient relationship, and any vet dispensing those drugs without seeing the animal is risking their license.

Heartworm drugs are not innocuous. Depending on the drug used, the breed of the dog, and its heartworm status, giving these drugs without an exam and heartworm test can be dangerous and even fatal to the dog. So they should only be used under the direction of a veterinarian, which is why they need a prescription.

It’s just like human prescription drugs that need to be monitored by your physician.

Maybe if a safer alternative is found, then that can go OTC.


Because too many people who own dogs are idiots.



Also, resistance to drugs is a huge concern. There have been a few cases of resistant heartworm and it is quite likely that resistant hookworm is far more widespread than was originally believed. It is important to have a fecal done (with an actual sample and not using a fecal loop) even if your pet is on a preventative to ensure that your drugs are actually working. A hookworm task force was recently set up among veterinary parasitologists and it is very likely that there will be recommendations for fecal egg count reduction tests for companion animals like there are for horses here in the next few years.


There are plenty of flea and tick meds available OTC - Seresto collars, Frontline, Advantage/Advantix. I would still recommend purchasing through a licensed vet pharmacy (or your vet) to avoid counterfeit drugs, but they don’t require a prescription.

The oral isoxozolines (Nexgard, Simparica, Credelio) require a prescription because (as another poster mentioned about heartworm preventative) they are also not completely innocuous - they can lower the seizure threshold in dogs that are prone to seizures.

And I wish every dog was on heartworm prevention. I live in a high income, high education area and I would say we are very, very far from “everyone.”


Hey, cat people can be idiots too!


Having something that forces you to maintain a relationship with a vet isn’t a bad thing. See the threads about vet shortage and closing emergency centers for reasons why…


I get it, but I understand why with resistance to widespread drugs/treatment options. I’m running into an issue somewhat related: I’ve talked about how I recently switched from my long term practice after having three emergencies my regular vet couldn’t fit me in for… I found another practice, brought 3 of my cats in for routine stuff in September. Anyway, went to do my regular refill of Revolution for my cats and was surprised to find my practice denied the request… They want me to bring in the cats that they just saw in September in order to approve the prescription. This is a little much for me, considering all three were just in for a check up last month. To me that felt like a money-grab, since it’s $175 each just to get a cat in the door.


We can get name brand dog and cat flea meds without a prescription here in Canada. It’s an online Vet Med web site that many use. I didn’t know about it until my friend was ordering some for both her dogs and cats. I ordered some for my cats and it was less than 1/2 the price and shipped directly to my house.

I have cat flea medication that has been stored properly and unopened for over 4 years. I bought some in the possible event that the Kittens With Mittens brought fleas home with them when I rescued them. How long does this stuff last without using it? I’m assuming it doesn’t go bad or spoil but it may lose its effectiveness?

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I’ll add a note here that online pharmacies are killing small vet offices. Your vet makes very little profit off prescriptions (or really any service but that’s beside the point). The online pharmacies have the buying power and the ability to operate at a loss to offer those meds at a lot lower price. Often they sell it to you at a price lower than the vets office is buying it. So if you want to maintain access to your vet office and want them to be there in times of crisis, support them with preventive care and purchasing meds from them.


There is a lot wrong with our society/healthcare model as a whole if veterinarians are using prescription medications to capitalize on profit or offset business expenses. This is not so different from monopoly pricing, which drives up costs of life-giving medications in big pharma.

I would much rather see small vet offices mark up other services to cover operating costs, such as their clinical exam fee, etc. My vet’s exam fee jumped from $75 to $175 this year to address rising costs associated.

I’m going to assume this is region dependent. My equine vet practice encourages clients to buy direct from online pharmacies. The practice does this for a few reasons:
A. they don’t want the storage hassle of these various medications
B. they are budget conscious
C. they never made much if any money on markup for these things and don’t see the point.

My small animal vets are the same. They say “here is 4 days of Gaba, you will need to reorder on www.allivet.com”.

A family member uses a different vet. She has a geriatric horse on Prascend and I about spilled my tea when I heard what her vet is charging her for a two month refill… $400… That is highway robbery. My vet charges $170.

The skyrocketing costs of treatment aren’t just going to impact veterinarians; regular owners will be priced out of vet care and will skip preventative care/routine appointments because of how astronomical costs are getting.


I used to buy a product from Australia but it’s no longer available. Can you message me the link for the Canadian site?

My vet just hands over the prescription so it’s not a big deal.

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I started scripting out meds years ago (now I do it because I don’t practice f/t) because I’d rather have the client bitch at the pharmacist than at me.


The DVM has to buy these drugs upfront to maintain stock, and then they sit on the shelf until needed. Often, they expire before being used, and then need to be discarded.
Charging enough to cover that, plus the time involved in counting pills and writing labels is a valid cost for pharmacy services.

Does your mechanic charge you their cost for brake linings or an oil filter?
Does the roofer charge you their cost for shingles?
No; and they don’t usually even keep that stuff in stock–they order as needed for a quoted job.

The loss of a marginal profit on pharmaceuticals is one of the reasons that prices for veterinary services have skyrocketed.

I never charged enough when I stocked drugs because I didn’t feel like pimping for Big Pharma.
And I was shocked when I went to a chain pharmacy one weekend to get an RX for 2 days’ worth of SMZ/TMP for one of my own horses–the pharmacist made a big real about giving me a “professional discount”, pulled a bottle of the same generic that I used off the shelf, and charged me 3X what I would charge a client.
So don’t go off about DVMs rolling in drug profits.

For that matter, I used to send folks to a couple of independent pharmacies back in the day, because they charged less.
Unfortunately, nobody wanted to take them over when their owners’ retired, and now the chains are the only option other than mail order.


I definitely did not go off on “DVMs rolling in drug profits”. I brought up big pharma and monopoly pricing and how #$%$'d up our healthcare/vet med system is.

I even pointed out the same thing you did: many vets script out the meds because they don’t want or have the time/space/manpower to maintain stock…

Both my large and small vet practices encourage people to order prescriptions online, so like I said before, I’m going to assume this is regional.

I understand a mark-up to accommodate costs associated with pharmacy services. That’s really not what the person I responded to was saying. They said that online pharmacies are “killing” small animal vet practices. I did bring up a local veterinary practice because they are charging a markup that is so significant that it’s no wonder people are going directly to pharmacies. I’m not going to blame them for that.

For what it’s worth since you asked: my mechanic does charge their cost for brake linings, oil filters, timing belt kits, etc. I know this since I work on my cars myself and in the past I have gone to my mechanic’s shop versus ordered online since I know I don’t have to pay shipping.

Not really the same thing, though, as there is not life/death attached to an oil filter nor is there much of a shelf-life… There certainly isn’t big pharma driving up the cost of an oil filter to maximize profits, and a garage isn’t pricing oil filters at such an insane markup that the average person can’t afford them.


Yeah we are only carrying select flea\hw\tick because it’s so expensive to carry them. Shipping everything else through our online pharmacy.

We have the clients who snark at us when the pharmacist says it’s the wrong dose or something because they don’t know dog needs or dosing. Or they get pissed and won’t stop calling us when they’re out of refills and didn’t plan ahead.

If the vet would only charge a slight increase in the price for meds versus what the online pharmacy charges…I would buy from the vet. When the vet’s price mark up is over 15%-25% more and most often 50%-75% more…I will shop online.


This needs to be repeated, loud and often.