Coming at you today with a life hack for getting cheap pet medication without a prescription. We rarely do these kinds of “one neat trick” articles—but when we do, they’re bangers. This one’s no exception.
I have a whole passle o’ hounds. My budget for routine flea, tick, and heartworm preventative medication used to be $360.00 per dog, per year. And that didn’t include fees for the annual vet exams or tests to get the prescriptions in the first place! I don’t need to tell you this was way too much fucking money for me. For years, I’d just accepted that price without question because I was too busy with work to think about it.
But at long last, I have the luxury of time! After an exhaustive amount of research (brought to you by coffee and Adderall, breakfast of neurodivergent champions), I found myriad other ways to get cheap pet medication. And I’ve identified what I think is the very best one.
I got my cost per animal down to just $32.50 a year. That’s 90% cheaper, for the exact same medications!
And today, I’ll tell you how I did it.
What I WON’T do for cheap pet medication
I considered a lot of potential ways to save money on pet medications. But I discarded a lot of them because they’re consummately terrible ideas. I want to briefly go over those, so that you understand the dangers, and why I think the route I’m suggesting is best.
1. I won’t just make my pets go without flea, tick, and heartworm prevention
These parasites aren’t just uncomfortable and gross—they spread deadly diseases to both pets and humans. In my mind, it’s a non-negotiable necessity of pet ownership. If I can afford to eat, my pets are getting medicated.
2. I won’t risk buying fake or bad products
I saw suspiciously cheap versions of common medications for sale on shady websites. But I would never buy medicine from an unvetted, unverified source. 70% chance it’s useless, 30% chance it’s gonna turn your pet into the dog from The Thing.
3. I’m not willing to consider cross-species applications.
The most popular ingredient in antiparasitic medication is ivermectin, which you can get for livestock at any tractor supply store. (Or at least you could, before COVID-19 conspiracy theorists bought it all to kill their last remaining brain cells.) I know some Country Folk™ who feel comfortable using the same product to deworm their horses and dogs. It can work!
But for me, I got too nervous trying to research the correct products and calculate the precise dilution ratio. I put in fifteen cloves of garlic when a recipe asks for two—I don’t have the delicacy to follow directions in *micrograms!* I wasn’t willing to risk accidentally poisoning my dogs by messing around with something I didn’t fully understand. When I asked the aforementioned Country Folk™ how they did it, 100% of them said they were taught how to do it directly by a vet. So I can’t recommend this method for regular folks. If you get it wrong, your pet could die, and their death would be on you. Not worth it.
The solution I found is waayyy safer and easier.
Step one: Verify that your pet is heartworm negative
It’s very important that you know your pet is heartworm negative first. Preventative medication won’t kill adult heartworms, and may make your pet worse.
So the first thing I did was go to my vet for an annual checkup. They wrote me a prescription for my dog’s preventative meds. These are the prices my vet quoted me…
- $100.00 for a 12-month supply of Heartgard (heartworm preventative)
- $260.00 for a 12-month supply of NexGard (flea/tick preventative)
- TOTAL COST: $360.00 per dog, per year
I thanked them, but didn’t buy the medication yet. I drove home convinced I’d missed something. “Surely there has to be some loophole? A generic option? Manufacturer’s rebates? A store that sells it more cheaply online? A hookup from my old pal, Canada? There has to be a way to get cheap pet medication!”
And there is…
Step two: Get medication for giant dogs
This is the best-kept secret in dog rescue. I’m possibly violating some kind of “be chill” rule among my fellow pet rescuers, but I can’t pass up the opportunity to present huge savings to my readers—and make sure that more pet owners can afford care for their pets.
Preventative medication for dogs works based on their weight. For example, let’s look at Heartgard again…
- For small dogs, one dose is 68 micrograms of ivermectin
- For medium dogs, it’s doubled to 136 micrograms
- For large dogs, it’s doubled again to 272 micrograms
But relative to their dosage, the price changes very little. Taking today’s prices from a popular online dog pharmacy…
- $10.99 for a single dose for small dogs
- $11.99 for medium dogs
- $12.99 for large dogs
That means that the most cost-effect way to consume this medication is to order the largest size, then cut it into halves or quarters depending on the size of your dog. It’s much easier to cut a single pill in half than to Walter White it up at your kitchen table with livestock doses.
The catch: your prescription isn’t for the giant breed size, and your vet won’t change it for you.
That’s why you’re not going to get it from your vet.
You’re going to go somewhere else.
Somewhere down under…
Step three: Order cheap pet medication from an Australian pet pharmacy
Soundtrack for this section can be found here.
Australia is home to many incredible things: meat pies, Tim Tams, kookaburras, effective gun control, Hugh Jackman…
With so many fine exports, you’d be forgiven for overlooking one: over-the-counter flea, tick, and heartworm preventative meds. And it’s substantially cheaper than what’s offered by even the most heavily discounted American pharmacies.
… Sorry, Aussies. I tried not to have a Crocodile Dundee gif, but I can’t risk my membership in the Obvious Gif Choice Coalition for a Worser Tomorrow. I’m up for treasurer next year!
After a ton of price comparison, I found the cheapest option for my brands was Pets Megastore. They sell legitimate products directly from the same manufacturers you’d get from your vet, without the hassle of calling to confirm your prescription. To be clear, they didn’t sponsor this post! It’s my honest recommendation as a private citizen.
I selected a premium all-in-one pill, and ordered a 12-pack of the largest possible size. This one box will cover all of my dogs for a full year. After gnashing my perfect American teeth as I double-checked calculations on AUD to USD and kilograms to pounds, I submitted my order. It arrived two weeks later, in perfect packaging, exactly as expected.
- $148.00 for a 12 month supply of Nexgard Spectra (all-in-one preventative)
- $10.00 for international shipping
- TOTAL COST: $31.60 per dog, per year
For even cheaper prices, check the clearance section. They have some offerings sold at a steep discount because they’re within a few months of their expiry. If you plan to divide it among two or more dogs, you can go through those quickly and save even more money! None of the brands I wanted were available this time, but I’ll definitely check again next time.
Here’s more of our advice for frugal pet owners:
- How to Save Money on Your Beloved Pets
- 30 Pets Ranked for Financial Efficiency by Cold, Unfeeling Human Overlords
- Twelve Reasons Senior Pets Are an Awesome Investment
Go forth and use cheap pet medications responsibly
I hesitated before writing this article. Some people really don’t like it when we discuss hacking medication access. (We literally got a rape threat from a pro-choice reader who took exception to us discussing the Yupze Method of using birth control as extreme emergency contraception. Thanks for the feedback, die mad about it!) I’m sure we’re gonna get some blowback for this one, too. A lot of pet owners feel there’s one right way to do things, and can get quite nasty when someone suggests cutting corners.
But ultimately, I decided it was information that could save lives. That’s always worth sharing.
I’ve volunteered with the same dog rescue for over a decade. I’ve seen the terrible consequences of poverty on pets and their owners.
These medications are cheap to produce. Like human medications, institutional greed keeps their prices ludicrously high. It feeds the cycle of sadness, suffering, separation, and death that occurs when people can’t afford veterinary care for their animals. And I think that’s fucking wrong.
Pets should never be adopted lightly. It’s irresponsible to take in an animal without first making sure you can afford their needs. But giving them good basic care shouldn’t be an unattainable class privilege of the wealthy either.
Bitch Nation: how have you hacked pet medication? Does anyone have a secret sauce to beat this price? If so, you owe us an explanation in the comments below! And if I’ve helped you save a bunch of money today, please consider kicking a few bucks our way on Patreon to say thanks.