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Here’s some news that’ll be sweet music to Labradoodle owners‘ ears: Kroger is one of the latest grocers to begin selling pet meds in its pharmacies nationwide, reports Houston Chronicle’s David Kaplan. Discount retailers like Walmart and Target have offered over-the-counter pet meds for a while, and the latter chain experimented with selling animal-specific meds in a pilot program last spring.
Kroger’s move comes at a time when Americans dropped over $48.3 billion on pet care last year, $20 billion more than they spent on their children’s dental care.
Buying medication from veterinarians directly often costs between 100 and 200 per cent more than the original price, so by offering a full range of medications Kroger might prove a good deal, at least on the surface.
Whether the medications are obtained directly from the manufacturer or a third party is one thing to consider, but Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, chief medical officer with Banfield Pet Hospitals, raised other concerns.
“One of the important things to think about are that the pharmacists may not show the pet owner how to apply the medication on their pet,” he told the site. “You’ll get the drugs cheaper at drugstores, but what’s often missed is the education the veterinarian provides.”
That means consumers could run the risk of applying too much flea or tick medication to their cat, which could be fatal, or the service could lead to mistakes like the pharmacist pulling medication for a dog that’s meant for a feline.
“Some medications are fine for dogs and poisonous for cats,” he said.
Finally, there’s the broader issue of what the drop in revenue could mean for vets who offer in-hospital pharmacies.
As Dr. Patty Khuly wrote in Veterinary Practice News, the “Fairness to Petowners Act” proposed by Congress last year would make writing prescriptions costlier for vets, forcing them to hike service fees in a dour economy.
As Bob Fountain, an animal business consultant told the Chronicle: “Vets will have to work hard to maintain their income from medications.”
A Kroger spokesperson had not returned a request for comment at press time.