Compounded Drugs for Animals Have Pros and Cons

June 13, 2005 (published) | January 18, 2016 (revised)

There are basically five types of medication available to treat your animals and these are: FDA-approved drugs for animals; FDA-approved drugs for people; generic drugs approved for animals, and those for people; and compounded drugs. Now this may sound confusing but basically we want to use FDA-approved drugs or generics for animals in all cases possible. If there is no FDA-approved drug, then a human FDA-approved drug or generic would be the next choice. However, many medications needed for animals are not available either as FDA-approved drugs or generics and so we have to resort to using compounded medications.

Compounded medications are very useful in certain situations because without them, we would not be able to treat certain conditions in animals. However, it is important to realize that a compounded medication is made by a pharmacist and there is no oversight by the FDA or any agency to make sure the drug is correct. You are relying entirely on the pharmacist to make the drug correct and this is always a concern, especially when you are using a drug that could be deadly if compounded incorrectly or could cause a severe problem if it is not sterile and injected into an animal. One reason some vets use compounded drugs is because they may be less expensive for the client. However, this is not a good reason to use a compounded drug. So it is important to know what a compounded drug is if your vet recommends one, and your vet should tell you if a compounded medication is being used. I use compounded drugs all the time but if an FDA-approved drug is available, it should be used as a first choice.

VIN News Service commentaries are opinion pieces presenting insights, personal experiences and/or perspectives on topical issues by members of the veterinary community. To submit a commentary for consideration, email

Information and opinions expressed in letters to the editor are those of the author and are independent of the VIN News Service. Letters may be edited for style. We do not verify their content for accuracy.