Can My Vet Refuse To Give Me A Prescription?

The short answer to the question “Can my vet refuse to give me a prescription?” is “yes”. A more important question to ask is “Why might my vet refuse to give me a prescription?”

In this article, we explore the many reasons why a vet might refuse to write a prescription for your horse or other animal and/or why your vet may refuse to sell you prescription drugs. Read on to learn more.

Why Might My Vet Refuse To Give Me A Prescription?

Why Would My Vet Refuse To Give Me A Prescription

1. A Veterinarian Is A Medical Professional

Just like a general practitioner, surgeon or other doctor of human animals, a veterinarian has a responsibility to his or her patients and the general public.

Prescription drugs are available by prescription only for a reason. They are deemed too dangerous or too potent to be handed out willy-nilly.

Doctors and governments must keep track of them for reasons of public and individual safety. If your veterinarian has any misgivings about writing a prescription for your pet or about delivering prescription drugs to you, he or she may refuse to do so until those misgivings are cleared up.

2. Suspected Doctor Shopping

This is one of the main misgivings that may prevent vets from writing prescriptions. If you call your vet frequently to have a prescription refilled over and over again without bringing your pet in for a new exam, your vet may suspect that you are using the prescription medication for some purpose other than treating your pet.

This common practice is especially problematic in the case of painkillers such as Tramadol. It is not unusual for a pet owner to shop around from vet to vet and have the same prescription filled over and over again for purposes of personal consumption or even for resale on the black market.

3. Concern For Your Pet’s Well-being

Concern for your pet’s well-being may cause your veterinarian misgivings. Even if you are using the prescription medication as intended for your horse or other pet, if you call for refills over and over again and don’t arrange for an examination, your vet will be rightly concerned.

Veterinarians, like general practitioners, are required to see their patients and make proper diagnoses before prescribing medications. Even if the prescription your pet was originally taking was right at the time, his or her condition may have changed since the initial diagnosis.

It is important for your veterinarian to see your horse or other pet on a regular basis, especially when the animal is taking a prescription medication.

4. Concern About The Quality Of Medication

Concern about the quality of medication can cause your vet misgivings. If you are asking your vet to write a prescription so that you can have it filled online or even at a local pharmacy, your veterinarian may worry about the quality of the medication you are receiving.

Veterinarians who stock prescription medications typically take care to choose the best quality of the medications they prescribe. Some online drug outlets and even some brick-and-mortar stores will carry a lower quality of the prescribed drug.

In some cases, online drug outlets have been known to fill prescriptions completely incorrectly, thus endangering the patient.

5. Your Vet May Have Concerns About Loss Of Income

Veterinarians are like anybody else: they need to make a living. Your vet may simply not want you to take your business elsewhere. When this is the case, your vet may charge a fee for writing a prescription. This is legal in some states and not in others.

Is It Legal For A Veterinarian To Refuse To Write A Prescription Or Provide Prescription Medication?

Is It Legal For A Veterinarian To Refuse To Write A Prescription

Rules surrounding this vary from one state to another. In many instances it depends upon why the vet has refused to write a prescription or provide prescription medication. If your vet has refused to write you a prescription because he or she has not seen your pet for a long time or because he or she suspects that you may be doctor shopping and abusing the prescription medication, these are legitimate concerns.

If your vet simply doesn’t want you to take your business elsewhere, that’s another matter and may not be legal. To fully understand the fine points of the laws surrounding this topic see the American Veterinary Medical Association’s detailed state summary report regarding veterinary prescription orders.

What Should You Do If Your Vet Refuses To Write You A Prescription?

What Should You Do If Your Vet Refuses To Write You A Prescription

Start by asking your vet why he or she will not write you a prescription and then do your best to remedy any circumstances that may be causing your vet to hesitate. Remember that it is important for your horse or other pet to see the veterinarian on a regular basis for proper diagnosis and accurate treatment of any health related issues.

If your vet has concerns about excessive prescribing of a potentially dangerous medication, take the steps necessary to lay his or her mind to rest. Of course, if you are abusing a prescription medication prescribed for your horse or other pet, you are the one breaking the law and you should not be doing that!

If the problem is that your vet simply doesn’t want you take your business elsewhere, see if you can come to a compromise. Some vets will meet online or local pharmacy prices rather than write you a prescription to have a prescription filled elsewhere.

Another approach you might take if the problem is only about money is to talk with an associate veterinarian or the office manager to see if you can come to a resolution. This may be a way to work around an older vet to may be stuck in his or her ways.

If all else fails, and you are not abusing prescription drugs, you may need to change vets to get better service.

Nicky Ellis
Nicky has been an editor at Horses & Foals since 2017. Horses have been in her life from her earliest memories, and she learned to ride a horse when she was 5. She is a mom of three who spends all her free time with her family and friends, her mare Joy, or just sipping her favorite cup of tea.


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