Pet Health Understanding Veterinary Prescriptions

Published on February 12th, 2020 | by Debbie Martin


Understanding Veterinary Prescriptions a Guide

How did it all come about?

Changes to the UK Law made back in 2005, meant pet owners could legally ask their veterinary surgeon for a written prescription allowing them to obtain veterinary medicines from an alternative supplier. Up until then, pet owners could only purchase veterinary medicines directly their own vet, and unfortunately in some instances this resulted in owners being charged astronomical amounts. The change in law opened up the market and challenged vets to provide reasonably priced medicines to their customers.

Understandably, some 10 years on and many pet owners are either unaware of this possibility or lack the confidence to ask their vets for a written veterinary prescription. Most owners have a good and trusting relationship with their vet, therefore the thought of requesting a written prescription to obtain the medicines elsewhere can seem extremely daunting. It is important to bear in mind that vets are able to charge a small nominal fee for writing a prescription, therefore it is not a complete loss on their behalf. In addition, your vet is still required to provide a full clinical check-up of the pet every 6 months* at a minimum, therefore a good relationship can still be achieved.

Another factor that may deter some people from purchasing their cats and dog’s medication elsewhere is the reliability of the source. Most people will turn to the internet to find a supplier, however this can be a minefield, with often 50+ suppliers all promising the cheapest or best service. Luckily enough a government run group known as the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) introduced a scheme called the Accredited Internet Retailer Scheme (AIRS). Any online supplier endorsed by this scheme has been rigorously checked by the VMD and satisfies stringent checks to ensure the safe and honest supply of veterinary medicines to pet owners in the UK. More information can be found about the scheme at:

Accredited websites will also carry a VMD Internet Retailer logo on their website, ours is in the footer of our website here. There are also instructions on how to complete the process and use your veterinary prescription on our website and make potentially great savings.

How does it work?

 If for any reason your pet is regularly needing veterinary medicines (which can also include preventative treatments such as Advocate), then you will more than likely make a huge saving by purchasing them online. One example:

Buddy is a 2-year-old Golden Retriever weighing approximately 28kg, he has been diagnosed with Atopic Dermatitis. Buddy has been prescribed Atopica and after an initial loading dose is on a dose of 1x 100mg Atopica Tablet every other day.

Monthly Saving


Average Vet Price Internet Price Total Saving
Atopica 100mg x 15 Tablets £97.50 £41.25 £56.25


Yearly Saving

Drug Average Vet Price Internet Total Saving
Atopica 100mg x 180 Tablets £1170 £495 £675

Any animal who is prescribed long term veterinary medication or preventative treatment will require regular check-ups with their vet. At each check-up, given that your vet is happy for your pet to continue on the medication, you can ask for a written prescription.

By law, your vet cannot refuse to provide a veterinary prescription, however they can make a small nominal charge. However as illustrated above, the savings that you can potentially make even after paying for a prescription are huge.

It is important to understand that a veterinary prescription is limited to the amount of medication stated by your vet. However, most vets are happy to write a prescription for enough medication to last you from one check-up to the next.

For example, Buddy has check-ups every 4 months. His vet therefore writes a prescription for 15 100mg Atopica Capsules. This is one month’s supply; however, he allows 3 repeats of this prescription to be made. This equates to a total of 60 tablets or 4 months’ supply. Buddy’s owner pays £10 for each prescription.

Taking into consideration the fee’s, Buddy’s owner is still making a saving of £645 a year.

It should also be highlighted that all veterinary prescriptions are only valid for up to 6 months. Regardless of the quantity on the prescription, the full allowance must be used from the prescription before the expiry date. A veterinary prescription is valid for a maximum of 6 months, or shorter if stated by the vet.

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About the Author

Debbie has worked for Beeston Animal Health for a number of years and although generally involved with the marketing these days she has a great deal of knowledge on many things to do with small animals.

9 Responses to Understanding Veterinary Prescriptions a Guide

  1. Kathleen says:

    Hello, I asked my vet for a repeat prescription for my cat with hyperthyroidism. It will need tablets for the rest of its life.
    He said a prescription would cost £11.50 + v a t which would bring it up to over £13. Also I would have to have the cat checked regularly.. He also said some internet sites are not reliable and just shut down.
    I got the feeling he was trying to put me off.
    Please advise
    Thank you

    • admin says:

      Hi Kath

      Thank you kindly for getting in touch.

      I am afraid it sounds like your vet is presenting a slightly one sided view of the online veterinary prescription industry.

      Our company has been established for over 8 years now and going from strength to strength.

      We are accredited with the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (part of the government) who police the safe distribution of veterinary medicines online.

      In terms of costs, you should still be able to make a considerable saving. Once your cat is established on a dose of felimazole, your vet should only need to see him or her every 3 – 6 months. A veterinary prescription is legally valid for 6 months (unless stated otherwise) therefore most vets are happy to give their clients a prescription for 6 months supply of medication. This means you are only needing to pay out for a prescription charge a couple of times of year. It is against the law for your vet to insist on extra check ups or excessive charges just because you have requested to get your cats prescription medication from elsewhere.

      Hopefully armed with this information you can go back to your vets.

      Kind Regards
      Deborah Martin

  2. Brenda Jarvie says:

    This is handy to know and could save some who have pets with long term medical needs for medicine alot of money

  3. Alison Wallington says:

    Ive used 365 Vet for several years now as I have a dog who has hip dysplasia and requires regular medication which she will need to take for the rest ofher life. Even after paying £13 per prescription (which is what my vet charges – still too much in my opinion but what can we do?) I save loads of money by buying from 365 Vet which I find are often the most reasonable of all the online Vet sites. They are usually almost half the cost per tablet that the vet charges!

  4. Ellie says:

    My dog has allergy problems and is on long term medication prednicare 1mg x2 a day. We see the vet every six months for a check up and then they authorise the medication for 6 months so I phone each month and then go in and pay and pick up the tablets. This time I phoned and said I’d like a prescription rather than the medication. My daughter picked up the prescription and when I read it I noticed it was only for 1 months worth. I phoned the vets and said it needed to be for the 6 months as thats effectively what they are doing when I buy the medication from them. They said they will only write a months worth of medication for a prescription. How can this be right?

  5. Donna ringrose says:

    How can I obtain a prescription for advocate for my 3 dogs I live in turkey and this treatment is not available there I’m desperate

  6. Hi
    As a veterinarian I would just like to clarify that it is always the vets prerogative to refuse to provide a script or medication if they feel that it isn’t in the owner’s or pet’s best interests.

    Many owners feel their pets need antibiotics. I wish to be supplied sedatives.

    I think some clarity around this needs to be provided.

    Thanks for providing this great resource.
    Dr Leigh
    Your Vet Online

    • Debbie says:

      Thank you for your comment.

      Our blog is designed to give advice to UK pet owners whose animals have already been prescribed a medium/long-term prescription medication.

      It illustrates how under these circumstances, a pet owner has alternative options, which are often cheaper than obtaining the medication from their vets.

      If a pet owner whose animal is already prescribed ongoing treatment asks for a written prescription it IS illegal for the vet to refuse is they do not have sound clinical grounds.

      We are by no means encouraging pet owners to ask their vets for unnecessary antibiotics and sedatives.

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