According to the 2021-2022 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), nearly 70 percent of U.S. households own a pet. Pets need medications just like their humans. This can be a smart business move for your pharmacy. If you dispense veterinary prescription drugs and add relevant over-the-counter (OTC) products to your shelves, you can gain a new, profitable revenue stream. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Here are some ways you can put pet health into practice in your independent pharmacy:
Prepare pet medications
Talk with your drug wholesaler and ask if they can lend a hand getting you started. They can give you access to the most commonly requested medications for cats and dogs (the most popular pets in American households). Find out if they can provide you with flea and tick treatments, antibiotics, and so on.
Dispense human drugs to treat pets
There are some human medications that can also work effectively on animals (with adjustments made to the dosages). For example, furosemide (treats fluid retention), meloxicam (joint pain), loratadine (allergies), famotidine (gastritis), diphenhydramine (skin irritation), and many more. However, some pets may not be able to take some of these drugs due to underlying conditions. Be sure patients have a prescription or note from their veterinarian.
Compound pet medications
When a ready-made drug isn’t available, it may be appropriate to offer veterinary compounding in your pharmacy. Some of the most popular compounded medications for pets include transdermal gels, capsules, and flavored suspensions.
Contact the veterinarian
Establish a productive working relationship with the veterinarians in your area. Be aware that big differences in some drugs exist between humans and animals when it comes to dosing and side effects. If a prescription isn’t clear or omits key information needed, give the veterinarian a call. By working together, you can reduce conflict and maximize patient safety.
Stock pet products
Set up a mix of OTC pet products in your front end. Put a mix of items, such as grooming supplies (nail clippers, brushes, shampoo) and other odds and ends like stain removers, toys, treats, and waste bags. With 67% of U.S. households owning pets, this is an easy way to add bucks to your bottom line.
Marketing your pet-health services shouldn’t be too difficult. A lot of your existing customers probably have pets, including you and your staff. So, bring it up in your conversations with patients every chance you get. Be proactive in letting your community know your pharmacy is animal friendly. Here are some ideas to help you out:
- Treats: Always have a jar of treats on hand so you can hand them out to pets riding in customer’s car in your drive-thru window.
- Water: Keep a clean water bowl by your pharmacy entrance during warm-weather months.
- Help: Keep an eye out for customers meandering through your pet aisle. Offer to help them find the products they’re looking for, and don’t be afraid to make suggestions.
- Prizes: Every so often, hold a contest or a drawing with a pet-related item as the prize.
- Signs: Be sure to put up clear signage in your store. Posters, bag stuffers, window clings, and shelf-talkers are all great for directing customers to your pet aisle.
- Photos: Make good use of social media by posting photos of adorable pets. You can get your customers involved by asking them to post pictures of their own pets. Respond to your customer’s posts with friendly comments, such as “Your kitten is adorable!” Don’t forget to toss in a little advertising, as well. “We have all the pet products you need for the new member of your family.”
Since you already provide personalized care to your human patients, why not add their cute, little critters, too? Pet health is a wonderful way to expand into a high-margin area earning recurring profits by filling pet ‘scripts for maintenance medications. Pet products are all-cash transactions, so you won’t have to worry about collecting full reimbursement for services provided like you do for human patients.
A Member-Owned Company Serving Independent Pharmacies
PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy-side of their business. Founded and owned by pharmacists, PBA Health serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, wholesaler contract negotiations, proprietary purchasing tools, and more.
An HDA member, PBA Health operates its own NABP-accredited secondary wholesaler with more than 6,000 SKUs, including brands, generics, narcotics CII-CV, cold-storage products, and over-the-counter (OTC) products — offering the lowest prices in the secondary market.