Pet owners are often looking for ways to cut the costs of pet ownership such as making their own pet food and learning how to groom their pets. Buying pet medications online is another way owners are trying to save money but there are many risks involved. Online pet pharmacies are rapidly growing, making huge profits each year but are you aware of the dangers of buying from these pharmacies?
A pet owner visits their vet who then prescribes medication for the pet. The medication is bought from the vet at a price decided by that particular practice. If the owner does a little research on the Internet, they will probably find the medication online at a cheaper price. So why is this a bad thing – especially for owners treating pets with chronic illnesses, which require long-term treatment?
No Veterinary Control Over Repeat Prescriptions- It is possible to buy repeat prescriptions online, without veterinary approval. This can lead owners to continually purchasing repeat prescriptions without veterinary guidance. Some medications shouldn’t be prescribed continually and without veterinary guidance, this can’t be controlled.
Surveillance & Adverse Reaction Reporting- A vet would pick up on any adverse reactions and report this to the manufacturer of the drug-this helps to improve the safety of pharmaceuticals and remove potentially unsafe ones from the market. When purchasing online, you cut out the vet and lose all the advice and experience they provide.
Liability and Responsibility- If your pet was to suffer a severe adverse reaction to a drug, under normal circumstances you have the experience of a qualified vet and the safety of pet insurance to help you and your pet. If the medication was purchased online, although you will eventually be able to get help from the vet, you are unlikely to receive financial help from the manufacturer or pet insurance. A foreign or domestic pharmacy may claim that one of its veterinarians on staff will “evaluate” the pet after looking over a form filled out by the pet owner, and then prescribe the drug. Instead, a veterinarian should physically examine an animal prior to making a diagnosis to determine the appropriate therapy. Drug manufacturers do not guarantee their product if purchased online. Many companies do not refund your money if your pet won’t take the medication or has an allergic reaction like your vet probably would. If they do accept returns how easy or difficult do they make it and do they pay for your return postage?
Counterfeits- FDA has found companies that sell unapproved pet drugs and counterfeit pet products, make fraudulent claims, dispense prescription drugs without requiring a prescription, and sell expired drugs. Counterfeit medicines can contain essentially anything-at best you can hope that the medicine does nothing or has a reduced beneficial effect, but at worst, some counterfeits could actually harm your pet. Many knock off brands exist that may not contain the right types or correct dosage of medication. These can be harmful to your pet. You may unexpectedly receive an empty package, the wrong pet medications or even fall victim to a scam and not receive anything at all.
Importance of Buying NSAIDS and Heartworm Preventives from your Veterinarian
CVM is especially concerned about pet owners purchasing nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and heartworm preventatives. Veterinarians often prescribe NSAIDS to relieve pain in dogs and should not be purchased on the internet. Dogs need to undergo blood testing before starting NSAIDS and should be monitored while taking NSAIDS.
The American Heartworm Society recommends getting tested yearly to make sure they’re not infected with heartworm. Testing is important even in dogs on yearly heartworm preventative due to the occasional reports of product ineffectiveness. An internet pharmacy veterinarian cannot draw blood from your animal and perform a heartworm test. If a test isn’t done, a pet owner could be giving heartworm preventatives to a dog that has heartworms, potentially leading to severe reactions.
You may end up paying slightly more by buying from your veterinarian but you are safe in the knowledge that you can both trust what they are giving your pet and you have their experience and expert knowledge. Many times you will end up paying less for flea and tick or heartworm preventions from your veterinarian with mail in rebates or free doses with your purchase that are sent to hospitals from the manufacture that are not used with online pharmacies.