People are still a little fearful about opting to buy generic pets medicine, but there really is no need to be wary of such products. Understanding a little about how the pets medicine industry works should put your mind at rest, and allow you to make huge savings, particularly with online purchases.

Branded pet meds are the 'original' formulation for any new medicinal pet products. Companies such as Merial and Schering-Plough spend vast amounts of money developing new drugs, in new dosages to help our pet's health.

Once developed, new drugs must tested for safety and effectiveness. They are then licensed by the national drug and medicine control offices of whichever countries they are manufactured and sold in. Organisations such as the FDA in the US ascertain the quality, effectiveness and safety of each new product and then grant a license for the developing manufacturer to distribute each new pets medicine.

This new pets medicine will be licensed for sole distribution by its creator for 25 years. During this time, no other manufacturer's may use this new ingredient in the same way, basically granting a monopoly to the original brand. This is only fair though really, as there needs to be an incentive for all the money and time spent developing new medications.

Once 20 years have passed, other companies are permitted to develop the same pets medicine, but not for profit. So new companies have time to get their 'generic' version of any pet medication ready for sale.

After 25 years have passed the monopoly is finished. Any manufacturer can now use the same dose of medicinal ingredients to create their own version of the product. A generic pet medication must be interchangeable with the branded version, containing the same volume of the same active ingredient. It may look different however, coming in a different colour tablet, for example, and the packaging will differ too.

Most importantly, because generic pet medicines must be interchangeable with the original brand, switching from one to the other makes no difference to the medicinal quality given to your pet. The regulation surrounding pet meds is identical whether we look at branded or generic products. This means, effectiveness, safety and quality of the drugs used is identical for both sorts of pets medicine.

Heartworm medicine for dogs, illustrate the point about generic pets medicine easily. Heartgard introduced the world to monthly Ivermectin pills to effectively prevent heartworm disease in dogs. Now, there are several generic versions of these ivermecting pills available. Some are now so popular, their names are nearly as famous as the big name brands; notably Nuheart pills and Valueheart heartworm medicine for dogs.

The reason generic pets medications are cheaper than the brands, is that they do not invest the same time and money in developing new drugs and treatments.

In addition, the generics do not have to spend money marketing new products to animal-health care workers and pet owners. Once vets and pet owners are familiar with an ivermectin based heartworm pill, it is simple to promote a new generic version of it.

Another factor, is that generic products are produced without the same level of money being spent on packaging. This is because to get us to buy generics, manufacturers know their must be a real saving for us. People are very brand loyal, so the savings on generic pets medicine must be maximised.

In the case of generic heartworm medicines, those saving can be huge. For example choosing Nuheart instead of Heartgard for dogs, will save pet owners around 50% on each pack. Now that is a saving definitely worth making the switch for.