We love Fido and Fluffy as much as any other member of our family. That’s why we will do what we can to ensure they’re healthy, such as buying medicine for animals. This is one of the many reasons why the pet medications industry is worth $9.8 billion.
Unfortunately, pet medications can get expensive — especially if your pet has certain health conditions. That’s why many pet owners turn to the internet, where they may find cheaper pet medications.
But is it worth it? Can you find cheaper meds online versus from your vet’s office? Here’s what you need to know when you buy medicine online for your furry friends.
Why Buy Animal Medicine Online
There’s one main difference between buying medication online and from your vet — markup. Markup is the selling price after the company buys the product. This is why markup can increase the price of the medication.
You don’t have to worry about extra costs when you buy your medicine from an online pet pharmacy. Most pharmacies let you purchase pet medicine in large quantities at wholesale prices, maximizing your savings.
There are also other benefits when buying pet medication online. You don’t have to run to the vet’s office when you need medicine. Many pharmacies also send you reminders when it’s time for a refill.
Disadvantages of Purchasing Medicine for Your Pet Online
While buying pet medication online has many benefits, it’s easy to fall into a scam. Make sure you do your research before giving a website your money. The website should be reputable and should follow the laws in your country or region.
What to Look for in an Online Pet Pharmacy
How do you ensure your pet pharmacy is reputable? When you conduct your research, look for these qualities in your pharmacy.
VIPPS (Veterinary Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites) is the digital pharmacy accreditation. This certification proves they meet the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.
Reputable pet medication distributors may also require other certifications, so be sure to conduct some research on your local area’s requirements.
They Require a Prescription
If you’re specifically buying prescription medication, be sure the website requires a prescription to purchase the medication.
This requirement not only ensures they’re compliant but they also care about your pet’s safety. If the distributor sells your pet’s medication without a prescription, you could give your pet a high dose which can be dangerous for their health.
Online pet pharmacies handle sensitive information, such as your address and credit card information. That’s why most pet medication websites will have security standards to ensure you’re protected. This may include an SSL site certification, encrypted transactions, and more.
A transparent business will provide contact information to ensure you can contact them if there’s ever anything wrong. This can include an email address, live chat, and/or phone number, as well as operating hours to ensure you reach them during business hours.
A pharmacy guarantee is a promise of legitimacy and transparency. While all pharmacy guarantees vary, most should state basic promises such as the medications aren’t foreign and they aren’t expired. You should also ensure this guarantee states all prescriptions are supervised by a licensed pharmacist.
Any reimbursement and return information should also be stated in this section.
Similarly, this policy is a promise that the company will never share your personal information. By some laws, privacy policies must also state that you can access your data and request for it to be removed.
Different Payment Methods
A reputable pharmacy will offer multiple payment methods for your convenience. This may include multiple credit and debit card options. Many pharmacies also list PayPal as a payment method.
Depending on the medication you’re ordering, some medications have special shipping considerations. For example, some medications expire easily and require refrigeration during the shipping process.
Make sure you research special considerations for your pet’s medication and ensure the pharmacy follows them.
Red Flags of an Unreputable Pharmacy
While you should look for aspects of a trustworthy pet pharmacy, you should also look for any signs of an unreliable or even an illegal pharmacy. Here are some examples.
No FDA Approval (Or Similar Agency)
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) aims to protect the public health of Americans by ensuring the safety and security of medications, including veterinary drugs. That’s why the FDA will approve of all reputable pet pharmacies.
Similarly, most major countries have a similar governing body that controls the safety of medications. Make sure the online pharmacy has approval from these governing bodies. If not, that’s a major red flag.
Non-Recognized Generic Medications
Generic medications are completely legal and are safe. With generic medications, you can access the same medications without paying for a name-brand price.
However, all generic medications are recognized and prescribed by your veterinarian. If a seller offers a non-recognized generic medication, avoid shopping at that website. These may also be dangerous, causing serious health effects or even death.
Cross-contamination occurs in a pharmacy by diluting the medicine with another substance, mixing other medications, and even putting the wrong medication in the package. If this occurs, you should not only stop shopping at that pharmacy but should also report them.
Some common online pet pharmacy scams include receiving fake medication and never receiving the product. To find scams, research the pharmacy’s reviews and make sure they haven’t been previously reported by your country’s medication and consumer protection governing body.
Buying Medicine for Your Pet Online Takes Responsibility
So is buying medicine for your pet online worth it? Buying pet medication from an online pharmacy has many benefits, such as cost savings and convenience. You’ll just need to be vigilant and ensure you’re buying products from a reliable pharmacy.
Continue reading our blog for more pet ownership advice!
Originally a dentist, Anna Strout has written for three years for pet and animal publications. Anna is also a historian who studies dog breed progression throughout the world, dabbles in animal law issues, and collects dog tales while traveling across the country with her husband and German Shepherd Dog, Luna. Anna kicks dust up dancing with Luna at home in Houston, Texas, where she teaches her obedience and tricks.