Why Can’t I Buy Drugs Without a Vet?

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There a several reasons why veterinary drugs cannot be purchased without a prescription. The most important of these is ensuring their correct use. Without an examination, your veterinarian cannot ensure your sick horse is getting the correct drugs, at the correct dose to treat their particular condition.

 Protecting Your Horse

Prescription drugs, such as the anti-inflammatory Phenylbutazone (Bute), are highly effective when used correctly. However, if used inappropriately and without the knowledge of your veterinarian, these drugs can be very dangerous, with disastrous and even lethal consequences.

For example, if used incorrectly, Bute can:

  • Accumulate to toxic levels over time
  • Cause gastric and colonic ulcers
  • Mask pain, resulting in serious untreated conditions
  • Mask deterioration, affecting your horse’s recovery

Without an examination and prescription from your veterinarian, you may be incorrectly dosing your horse or even giving the wrong medication altogether. Veterinary drugs, including antibiotics, are tightly regulated to ensure each drug is used safely and effectively.

Protecting Your Vet

However, using veterinary drugs without a prescription from your veterinarian not only has negative consequences for your horse. Asking a veterinarian to sell prescription medications without examining your horse risks the life of your horse and risks the loss of their veterinary license.

Qualified veterinarians are professionally trained to correctly diagnose health problems and devise the course of treatment. Seeking their medical advice if your horse is sick or injured is essential to give your horse the best chance of a swift recovery.


  • Dr Louise Cosgrove

    The founder of Exclusively Equine Veterinary Services, Louise is driven to support horses in their recovery from injury or illness. A graduate of the University of Queensland, with international equin...

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