As curbside services in veterinary medicine prevail, the use of online pharmacies for veterinary medications have increased as well. Veterinary pharmaceuticals and common prescriptions aren’t unknown to the online market, and many pet owners have purchased veterinary medications from online pharmacies for many years. As times have changed, consumer purchasing habits have as well. There has been an increase in online shopping, particularly by millennials. By 2022, online sale of pet medications is expected to increase by 5%.
When purchasing veterinary medications and pharmaceuticals online it is important to research the credibility and reputation of online pharmacies.
The veterinary clinic I worked for treated a couple patients for heartworm disease. The pet parents were diligent about administering monthly heartworm prevention, year-round. I remember one particular patient. She was a black lab, named Cleo, and she received her heartworm preventative every month. The owner had a reminder system setup that didn’t let her miss a dose.
It was certain that Cleo received all of her doses, but unfortunately the product was purchased from an online pharmacy. The description of the product fit, and the packaging looked fairly the same as the original product, however many online pharmacies would carry outdated, counterfeit, repackaged, or placebo product.
Heartworm treatment in dogs can cost thousands of dollars, and if the product were purchased through a veterinarian the manufacturer would guarantee the efficacy and safety of their product by covering the cost of treatment. In this situation, since the product was purchased online and the pet contracted heartworm disease, the manufacturer guarantee was void. The owner incurred the cost of treatment, and the pet underwent treatment for the next 90 days as recommended by the American Heartworm Society.
Luckily for Cleo, she was successfully treated for heartworm disease and continued to live a full life. The owner remained diligent in ensuring she received her annual preventative testing, which allowed us to begin her treatment immediately.
I would always recommend purchasing veterinary medications directly through your veterinarian or a reputable pharmacy. Many veterinary clinics have started partnering directly with veterinary suppliers to maintain the quality of veterinary pharmaceuticals and prescription medications. Veterinary health companies have started to create trusted online platforms to allow pet owners to purchase their pets’ medications online and ensure convenient delivery.
When purchasing veterinary medications online, please ensure the pharmacy you use is reputable. Reputable veterinary pharmacies will ask for a prescription, have a pharmacist on staff to answer questions, have a phone number and address. If you are unsure about the quality or credibility of an online pharmacy, you can inquire with the state board of pharmacy.
Partner with your vet to become educated about online pharmacies and research pharmacies prior to making a purchase. If cost is of concern ask your veterinarian about price matching or discount programs. Most manufacturers and pet health companies will work with their veterinary partners to create client friendly programs, to alleviate the financial stress and burden on the hospital. Most pet health companies will also offer a guarantee on their product(s) in the event that your pet experiences an adverse reaction and will cover up to a certain amount of treatment. Many companies also offer mail-in rebates when purchasing products directly through a veterinarian to help with the cost of veterinary products.
Talk to your veterinary team today to learn more about the risks associated with and the precautions to take when ordering from an online pharmacy. Partner with your veterinary team to make the best health decision for your pet!
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