Compounding Pet Medication

Compounding Pet Medication

Compounded medications are those that are not commercially available. This means that no pharmaceutical manufacturer currently makes that certain medication in the specified concentration or formulation. Since no drug companies make the medication, it is not readily available at a regular retail pharmacy and must be compounded by a specialty pharmacy.

What Is Compounding?

Compounding is its own niche in pharmacy science, as it requires careful calculations, sterility, and technique to provide an accurately formulated product for the patient. In simpler terms, think of compounding a medication like following a recipe for cooking. Certain steps, procedures, and ingredients are needed and must be followed to successfully create a beef stroganoff or, in compounding, a specialized ointment .

The Role of the Compounding Pharmacy Technician

The compounding pharmacy technician performs all compounding duties under the direct supervision of the compounding pharmacist. Non-sterile compounding of medications, like creams or ointments, can be performed on a sterile surface in the pharmacy while sterile compounding of medications, like eye drops and IV (intravenous) fluids, must be performed in a USP 797-certified laminar flow hood. The technician will perform data entry of the prescription. Assuming the prescription is approved by the pharmacist, typically a prescription label and “recipe” will be generated.

The Actual Process

Before any compounding is performed, a clean workstation is a must. The technician will then gather all the tools and ingredients necessary for compounding the specified medication. When all calculations and ingredients have been verified by the pharmacist, the technician will follow the prescription recipe step by step until the final product is complete. For nonsterile compounding, such as creating a cream, this typically involves weighing ingredients, geometric mixing, and conformation into a uniform product.


Documentation is also important. This is performed on a compounding worksheet and should include all pertinent data with regard to each ingredient used for quality assurance verification, such as lot number, expiration date, manufacturer, amount used, order in which it was used, etc.

When documentation is complete, the final product will be packaged and labeled appropriately, including the expiration date, and signed off by the compounding technician. The compounded product, all documentation including the prescription, and all ingredients used are laid out in an appropriate manner for final approval of the pharmacist before dispensing.

The Role of the Compounding Pharmacist

The compounding pharmacist is responsible for all compounding performed during his or her shift on duty. The pharmacist will verify all prescriptions for accuracy, adequate dosing, and therapeutic appropriateness. Typically, pharmacists who perform compounding for animals have further training and an advanced certification in veterinary pharmacy. Just like humans, all animals are different and come in various shapes and sizes. The pharmacist will verify the calculations, steps performed, and ingredients used in each compound. He or she will sign off on all appropriate documentation and perform the final check on the compounded medication before dispensing to the customer.

The pharmacist will also have the opportunity to counsel the owner of each furry patient with regard to administration techniques, possible side effects, and adequate medication handling/storage. While the pharmacy technician helps the pharmacist perform the majority of the prep work, the pharmacist will perform more complex compounding duties, such as those for chemotherapy and specialized transdermal systems.

Most Commonly Compounded Pet Medications

Now that you know the role of the compounding pharmacy technician and pharmacist, you must be curious about what common medications they compound. Sometimes, medications like antibiotics, have a not-so-pleasant taste. Doxycycline is an antibiotic used to treat a variety of infections. Flavoring, like beef or peanut butter, is typically added to doxycycline liquid to mask the taste and help get your furry friend to take their medication.

Methimazole is a medication used to treat hyperthyroidism. Trying to get your feline friend to ingest this pill can be pretty tough and could result in a scratch or two—ouch! For that reason, this medication can be compounded into a topical gel to be applied to the cat’s skin instead.

Metronidazole is another antibiotic used to treat certain infections in addition to infectious diarrhea. This antibiotic is typically made into a liquid solution with a flavoring of choice. It can also be formulated into a chewtab as well. These are just a few of the many compounded pet medications that are available by prescription from your veterinarian and fulfilled by your neighborhood compounding pharmacy.

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