Many of us love our pets and consider them family members and, of course, we want what is best for them. This can get expensive, requiring some creative thinking and research to find deals and discounts.

Our family has a small zoo; there are cats, dogs and rabbits, and we love them dearly. Our dogs, especially, have proven to be very expensive, needing ongoing medication and prescription foods. So, being the thrifty mamma that I am, I've explored many avenues to find the best deals.

Here’s the good news: Many of the same methods we use to save on products for our human family can also be used for saving on pets! Here are some ways to save on pet-related prescriptions.

Shop around

Many pet prescriptions are available for less through the regular (human) pharmacy. Even though the prescription can be filled at the veterinarian’s office where it is written, remember to shop around. Pharmacies are competitive, and it’s likely a better price is available elsewhere. Some prescriptions may even be on that lovely "$4 list" at Walgreens, Target, Kroger, and Walmart!

Make a list of your pet's medications (including dosages) and call around to area pharmacies. Ask your vet for a written prescription to have filled at another location, or have the pharmacy call your vet to get the prescription over the phone. I actually do this twice a year for the medications that the pharmacy has not had available in the past, just in case they have started carrying it since I last checked.

Remember bonus and rewards cards

Don’t forget usual routines when purchasing pet prescriptions! Use your pharmacy bonus card to make the most of those rewards programs. We earn points and/or percentage off discount coupons for prescriptions filled at CVS, Target, and Walgreens. It is also possible to earn points towards gas discounts at many grocery store pharmacies.

Visit smaller, local pharmacies

Be sure to check the mom and pop pharmacies. Aside from the good that comes from supporting local business, national chains don't always have control over what they stock. But local pharmacies may have more leeway in what they carry and might be able to order the medication. Also, they may be able to get smaller dosages for smaller pets.

Look for discounts, coupons and samples

Always ask your vet if they have any coupons or manufacturer discounts available. In addition, ask your vet if they have samples available. While this is not as common as it is with human doctors, it is still a possibility.

Use a respectable online pharmacy service if getting prescriptions through the Internet. We have used 1800-PetMeds for years now and have great success with that company. If using an online service, be sure to check coupon code websites for any coupon codes available. I always find at least one code on RetailMeNot. And be sure to order early so the medication doesn’t run out while waiting for a refill. Free shipping offers can take a week or more to arrive.

Pets with special medical conditions may need prescription food, which can be costly. Always check the manufacturer's website for discount offers. Many times manufacturers, such as Hill's, have coupons that can be printed from their website. These coupons generally have a limit to the number of times they can be printed, but they are valuable. The coupons I used saved me $7 on each purchase!

Ask the receptionist in the veterinarian’s office about any discounts that may be available. Sometimes the manufacturers have special offers or rebates that the receptionist may forget to mention.

If the food doesn't work for some reason, ask for a credit or refund. My vet will take back any food that doesn't work (Hill's has a guarantee).

The bottom line is to ask. Veterinarians and pharmacists have the same goal in mind: Optimum health for your entire family. If there are savings available that can help your family stay healthy, then all the better!

I hope some of these tips will help you to save money while helping your pets live long, happy, and healthy lives.

 This has been a guest post by Traci from Richmond, VA
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How to Save on Pet Prescriptions