An introduction to veterinary medicines

A helpful resource for those who are interested in selling or studying veterinary medicines.

‘What you should know about selling veterinary medicines’, by Steven Kayne, Martin Shakespeare, Stephen Baugh, Alison Pyatt

This book is aimed principally at community pharmacy staff in the UK and Ireland looking to develop an interest in veterinary medicines. It does not purport to be an extensive text on the subject matter but there is enough information for it to be of practical use in a retail environment.

The book focuses on the companion animal retail sector (e.g. pharmacy and pet store). There is reference to some prescription-only medicines, veterinarian (POM-V), but only for the purposes of pharmacist dispensing, or for certain anti-parasitic medicines or vaccines.

The first part of the book sets the scene around pet owners and the involvement of people who sell veterinary medicines to them. It stresses that retailers generally advise and provide prophylactic medicines and cannot diagnose for a pet, which is strictly the remit of the vet.

Important aspects of zoonoses are covered in relation to companion animals. It covers the parasitic problems that may infect humans in detail (hydatid disease and toxocariasis) but other examples are given and toxoplasmosis is also well explained. Relevant facts around legislation and veterinary medicines that pharmacists need to know are also discussed.

The fourth chapter is devoted to companion animals (e.g. cats and dogs) which will be the main interest for those purchasing the book. The subject matter of fleas and worms is covered well and there are useful charts of the various medicines available to prescribe and sell over the counter. It should be noted that the antiparasitic products available are constantly changing with new products coming to the market. There is also a useful section in this chapter on nutrition, which is an area pharmacists could become involved with by stocking and advising on specialist veterinary diets.

Other small mammals are also mentioned, including rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils, hamsters and ferrets. This would be a small market for medicines or nutritional products in the retail sector but the information is useful to have.

Horses are classified as companion animals so equine health, from a retail perspective, is covered in a separate chapter. The subject of worms and worming is thoroughly explained, together with a section on “anthelmintic resistance”, which every retailer should be familiar with and be able to advise horse owners on. Ectoparasites are also described and there is good background information around the subject of equine vaccinations, which would be POM-V products only available from vets. But owners may well expect knowledge of such medicines from a well informed retailer.

One area the book does not cover is how to set up a veterinary medicines section in a pharmacy (e.g. a suggestion of products to stock). However, if you are new to this area or are thinking of setting up a veterinary medicines category in your pharmacy, it is a good book to have on the shelf.

Community pharmacists and their support staff will find this book particularly useful but it is also suitable for students considering a career in small animal veterinary nursing or staff working in a pet store environment.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, January 2016, Vol 296, No 7885;296(7885):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2015.20200097

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