Working with Your Veterinarian: The Basics of Pet Pharmacy Refills
Your dog’s ears are at it again. She has had more ear infections than you can count, and you know all the signs. Her ears are red, she is scratching like crazy, and you can smell them from across the room. You call your established veterinarian and ask for a refill on the ear medication that was prescribed last time… and are told that you need to make an appointment.
This all too common occurrence is very frustrating to most pet owners. After all, you know what the problem is and you know what helped before. Pet pharmacy refills aren’t always so straightforward, though. Read on to learn how veterinarians & staff at Volunteer Veterinary Hospital is working to be sure we do right by you and your pet.
We are often asked to fill prescriptions for pets who we have never seen or have not examined in recent history. Most people don’t realize that when they ask us to do this, they are asking us to break the law.
Tennessee state law requires a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) in order to write a prescription. A VCPR means that the veterinarian is willing to take on legal responsibility for making medical decisions and has recently examined the animal in order to have sufficient knowledge to make such decisions. The Tennessee Veterinary Medical Association recommends that the last examination occurred no longer than 12 months ago, although more frequent exams may be required depending on the individual situation.
Why Pet Pharmacy Refills Aren’t Always Easy
Even when we have an established VCPR, there are several good reasons why your pet’s veterinarian may not be able to refill a particular medication sight unseen. Some common reasons pet pharmacy refills are denied include:
Things change – While it may seem like that ear infection is the exact same problem as last time, there certainly can be differences that make the medication we previously prescribed a poor choice. If the eardrum has ruptured, there is a bacterial infection instead of yeast, or if your pet has started a new medication, that previous medication could be an ineffective or even harmful choice.
Need for monitoring – Some medications need to be monitored closely. Your dog’s medication for seizures or your cat’s medication for hyperthyroidism, for instance, require periodic blood tests to be sure that you are administering a safe and effective dose.
Complication of diagnosis – While it may be tempting to call for a refill on the pain medication we prescribed last time your pet was limping, giving medications before we see your pet can actually make it harder for us to diagnose the problem by lessening the symptoms. The faster we can diagnose an issue, the sooner we can begin helping your pet.
Pet pharmacy refills are often a source of confusion for our clients, but when it comes down to it, we both want the same thing: for your pet to feel better as fast and safely as possible. We appreciate you working with us to ensure that we meet that goal.