Online Pharmacies Do’s & Don’ts
Products you should be buying through your vet & what to look out for
Information gathered by: Anna Deason, CVT & Edited by: Jessica Nuñez
At first glance, online pharmacies can seem like a great idea to get a deal for an otherwise pricey product for our pets. Especially since most of us have more than one or two furry friends to look out for, (trust us we know it’s hard to resist adding to the fur family). But what you might not know is that those bargains are coming at a price, whether you end up paying for it or not.
Here we’ve lined up some top concerns with buying online VS at your veterinarian’s office.
Can you spot the fake?
To most of us, online products versus those bought at your local veterinary clinic look relatively the same. However, there is always a risk of buying forged products offline.
To sell these products online for a cheaper price, medications such as flea/tick & heartworm prevention are often counterfeited. Copying the look and the names of popular brands without the active ingredients and therefore less of a chance that the product will do what it is advertising.
Fun fact: The following distributors do not allow the sale of their products through online pharmacies. If you’re buying a product that is made from one of these companies online- chances are they weren’t bought legally in the first place.
Elanco (Trifexis, Comfortis)
& Many More
Approval of drugs from the FDA assures safety and effectiveness. Without FDA approval, there is less of a chance for the drug you are purchasing to do its job. Unfortunately, most online pharmacies are not controlled or regulated through the FDA.
Making sure to order from a Vet-VIPPS accredited pharmacy can assure the validity of your prescription. Vet-VIPPS (Veterinary-Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites) is a voluntary accreditation program of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). The NABP provides strict criteria for online pharmacies to comply with such as- federal & state licensing, quality assurance, protection of patient confidentiality, and validity of prescription orders.
Look for the Vet-VIPPS seal on your online pharmacy’s website or check the NABP website for a list of accredited pharmacies. (Information from the Consumer Health Information web page, which features the latest information on all FDA regulated products) www.fda.gov
What is a heartworm test and why does your pet need one?
Annual heart worm testing is necessary even if your pet has been on heartworm prevention yearly, according to the American Heartworm Society, to make sure the prevention is working for your pet. If you’ve missed more than a month of heartworm prevention, your pet will have to be retested for heart worm disease.
We understand that caring for our pets can be costly. Buying from your veterinarian will not only assure there are no additional costs if your pet has a reaction to their prevention, but your veterinarian may have better pricing available to you as well. Purchase medication through your veterinarian office for any rebates, offers, or discounts that you cannot receive when buying online.
Warranties, recalls, and picky pets
If a medication purchased through your veterinarian is ever recalled, your veterinary team will notify you immediately and return the product. If your pet has any issues, an adverse reaction, or cannot tolerate the medication- your veterinarian can assist you as an online pharmacy will not.
Not every pet is the same
Just like people, not every pet handle medication equally. Your pet needs to be examined by a licensed veterinarian to make sure your pets are receiving the most accurate dosage and medications possible. Don’t risk getting the wrong medication or dosage online- flea, tick, and heartworm prevention range by each pet’s species and size. Certain ingredients in canine medications are toxic for cats, purchasing through
Last but certainly not least – Talk with your veterinarian
Open communication with your veterinarian is essential to getting the attention your pets need and deserve. If you are interested in purchasing medication online make sure to consult with your veterinary team about how to do so properly and safely and most importantly- to discuss what medication is needed for your pet.
For more information about buying through online pharmacies and/or getting flea and heartworm prevention for your pets, contact your veterinarian today or visit www.fda.gov for more information on consumer safety.
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