06/27/2012 01:54 pm ET

Pet Medications Increasingly Offered At Human Pharmacies

It’s now more convenient for Rover to get his medication, as more pharmacy chains are offering access to prescription pet medications, the Sun Sentinel reports.

Winn-Dixie, which has 493 pharmacies in the southeastern U.S., is joining Target, Walmart and other stores in cashing in on the huge pet medication market; pet owners are expected to spend more than $13 billion on medical care this year, a 1.3 percent boost from 2011. The move may help owners find a cheaper version of their pets' medications. Before pharmacies starting stocking pet meds, owners were forced to turn to the vets' offices or places like, which could often be more expensive.

"In today's economy, more people have to bargain shop, and this provides a service for those who may be struggling with care costs," veterinarian Kristy Lund told the Sun Sentinel.

But while it may be easier for Fluffy to get her heartworm pills, it’s getting tougher for some human patients to get hold of the medications they need. A nationwide prescription drug shortage has meant that paramedics and hospitals across the country are having trouble getting access to lifesaving drugs.

In Kern County, Calif., the ambulance division was in danger of running out of an important seizure medication earlier this year, the Bakersfield Californian reports. Seattle-area paramedics were also contending with a prescription drug shortage last month, according to KING 5.

Though prescription drugs are in short supply, the number of Americans getting prescriptions declined in 2011 from 2010, as the struggling economy is pushing patients to cut back on medical care, The New York Times reports. In addition, Americans increased their visits to emergency rooms as more had to contend with not having health insurance in a weak job market.

Yet even as American humans’ medical care situation is getting more tenuous, access to pet health care is increasing. An increasing number of Fortune 500 companies are offering their employees discounted access to pet insurance in an aim to lure potential pet-loving workers.