Compounding Pharmacies: A “Spoonful of Sugar” for Pets

The Bitter Pill

As pet guardians, most of us have had to struggle with administering medications to our animal friends at one time or another. We know it’s for their good, but we hate doing it. It may be the look of betrayal and fear on your cat’s face when you’re force-feeding him a pill. Or you might experience the anxiety of not being sure you’ve given the right dose after opening a capsule or cutting a tiny tablet into thirds. Getting pets to take medication is just no fun for pets or for us. Compounding pharmacies offer many solutions to the common problems and stresses associated with administering veterinary medicines.

What are Compounding Pharmacies?

A compounding pharmacy creates personalized versions of medications that are typically commercially available only in standardized dosages, strengths and forms. Compounding may be considered the “old fashioned” way of filling prescriptions. In the past, if you had a prescription, you went to the pharmacist and he or she custom-prepared that prescription to suit your needs. The advent of mass pharmaceutical manufacturing in the 1950s and ‘60s resulted in the decline of this type of individual preparation. The pharmacist’s role then changed to that of a dispenser of manufactured dosage forms. Most pharmacists no longer received training in compounding medications. In more recent times, however, it has become clear that a “one-size-fits-all” approach can’t meet every patient’s needs. This is particularly true of the great variety of pets who need medications and who can present the greatest challenges when we have to administer them.

Benefits of Compounding Pharmacies

The customized nature of compounded medications can take much of the stress and guesswork out of giving your pets their meds. For example, many medications that come from the factory in tablet form can be compounded as transdermal gels that can be massaged into the ears or as tasty liquids that pets enjoy. Compounding pharmacies also give veterinarians the ability to prescribe medications specific to their patients’ individual needs. No more splitting pills and hoping your petite cat hasn’t taken too much thyroid hormone! According to, some additional benefits of compounding pharmacies include:

  • Patients may be less likely to experience side effects if their prescriptions can be tailored to their specific needs.
  • Veterinarians can more easily fine tune or modify the dose or prescription as a patient’s needs change.
  • Prescriptions may be compounded for sensitive patients.

Where Can I Find a Veterinary Compounding Pharmacist?

Some compounding pharmacies, such as the online PetHealthPharmacy, specialize in veterinary compounding. Several local Seattle area “human” pharmacies also provide veterinary compounding services. All compounding pharmacies (and pharmacists) must adhere to standards and regulations set by the U.S. Pharmacopeia, National Association of Boards of Pharmacy and State Boards of Pharmacy. Some local pharmacies that offer veterinary compounding include Ballard Plaza Pharmacy, Katterman’s Pharmacy (Laurelhurst), Custom Prescriptions (Bellevue or online) and Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy (multiple locations).

Spoonful of Sugar

If you can’t bear another day of pinning down your struggling cat or haven’t solved the mystery of how your dog can eat the pill pocket treat without eating the pill, compounding pharmacies may offer a solution. For more information about veterinary compounding, ask your veterinarian or pharmacist. And if your pet needs medication during the day when you’re gone, PugetPets has experienced, professional staff to administer it in the same gentle, loving (and occasionally persistent) way that you would.