Online shopping is growing exponentially, with users delighting in the ease and convenience of autoship straight to their doors. Pet owners have also transitioned to purchasing heavy bags of dog food and cat litter, along with every other necessary pet product, that come with easy delivery. But, at what cost does this convenience come?

While some online pharmacies operate legally and legitimately, many do not, and saving a few dollars may come at the cost of your pet. We’ve all fallen victim to online shopping mishaps, whether it’s inaccurate sizing, color differences, or, in some cases, a completely different product. A shirt that’s too small isn’t a big deal, but when it comes to medications, you need to ensure you’re getting the right product. Unfortunately, many online pharmacies play fast and loose with drug sourcing, storage, and handling. 

The dangers of online pet pharmacies

The issues discovered with online pet pharmacies are numerous and dangerous. Beware of these red flags and potential problems:

  • Allowing you to purchase any medication without a prescription, regardless of whether it’s safe for your pet’s condition
  • Shipping counterfeit medications that appear close to the legitimate product
  • Medications that contain too much or too little of the active ingredient, or contain other harmful ingredients
  • Improper storage, which can render the product ineffective
  • Products that are short-dated and will expire before you can use them

Your pet is part of your family. Choose your online pharmacy wisely and avoid the heartbreak of losing your beloved companion because you gave her medications that were supposed to ensure her health and safety but were misrepresented.

The benefits of an endorsed online pet pharmacy

As with everything in life, you get what you pay for. Take over-the-counter flea and tick preventives, for example. Many are inexpensive, easily obtained—and fraught with dangerous side effects. Manufacturing companies spend vast amounts on research and quality control to ensure their product is top-notch and unlikely to cause adverse effects. These companies know they will not recoup the expense of research trials if a product is harming its intended user, so they put the extra time, effort, and financial backing into designing a quality product.

The same theory holds true for online pharmacies. Higher grade pharmacies may be slightly more costly, but they guarantee a legitimate, quality product. They work with ethical manufacturers to ensure high-caliber products, and often choose to dispense their medications only through veterinarians to ensure product quality. Shipping directly from the manufacturer to climate-controlled distribution warehouses, and then to veterinary clinics, greatly limits the possibility of contamination or tampering. 

When you work with a veterinary-backed online pharmacy, you reap these benefits and safety-control measures:

  • A state-licensed pharmacist oversees the filling of your pet’s medication.
  • A prescription is required to dispense medication.
  • The pharmacy is state-licensed.
  • Drug manufacturers guarantee their products when they are sold by a reputable company with proper handling. 

One major benefit of purchasing through a veterinary channel is knowing that your pet’s product is safe and guaranteed. Manufacturers cannot guarantee the authenticity, safe handling, and storage of products purchased outside veterinary facilities, and are within their rights to refuse guaranteeing products purchased in another fashion. For example, you have been purchasing your dog’s monthly heartworm preventive from 1-800-PETMEDS, and then her annual heartworm test is positive. The manufacturer is under no obligation to pay for treatment or to provide any financial recompense because the product was purchased through a non-veterinary channel. On the other hand, if you had purchased heartworm prevention through our clinic or an endorsed online pharmacy, the guarantee protecting your pet (and your pocketbook) would have been honored.

We want to help protect your pet and keep her healthy, which can be challenging with online pharmacy purchases. So, to help combat expired or counterfeit medications, we have endorsed our own online pet pharmacy. Veterinary clinics like ours use these pharmacies to ensure their patients receive safe medications. Plus, many are backed by the same distributors through which we purchase our in-house products. 

Do you have questions about your pet’s prescriptions? Are you looking for the best flea, tick, and heartworm preventives? Give us a call—we want to ensure your pet receives the safest products to keep her healthy.