A dog sits with his owner who shops on an online pharmacy.

Here in the twenty-first century, we are all about having things at our fingertips. With just a click of a button, we can schedule a doctor’s visit, have our groceries delivered, or start our robot vacuum from miles away. The appeal of being able to order our pet wellness products and medications online for direct delivery is strong.

Clairmont Animal Hospital knows how convenient this is, but we also see some pitfalls and even dangers in the online pharmacy option. We want to be sure that our clients know how to keep their pets safe when using this option and avoid dangerous consequences like counterfeit drugs.

The Dangers of the Online Pharmacy

Who wouldn’t want to take care of filling their prescriptions on a platform where they could easily browse, price shop, and ship them from the comfort of their couch? There are so many online pharmacy options these days specializing in pet wellness products and prescriptions medications, it’s hard not to take advantage.

While not every online pharmacy is bad, it is important to remember that not everyone has your pet’s best interest at heart. Sometimes, when products are sourced at the lowest possible prices, the product is ineffective, incorrect, or, worse yet, compromised of counterfeit drugs. 

When buying through an online pharmacy, you may receive:

  • Medications obtained through illegal channels
  • Medications that have not been properly stored
  • Inappropriate doses of medications, even if labeled correctly (for instance, it is cheaper to fill a package of heartworm prevention for a 100 pound dog with doses for a 25 pound dog)
  • Expired medications
  • Medications that have been replaced with cheaper substitutes (most often just ineffective, but sometimes dangerous)
  • Medications that are not covered by manufacturer warranties

When buying through an online pharmacy, you run the risk of  purchasing ineffective or counterfeit drugs that can put your pet at risk or even in danger. Even if the packaging appears correct, it is hard to be sure what you are getting.

Keep in mind when our team prescribes your pet a medication, there is a reason for it. We know your pet’s medical history, problems, other medications, and needs. It doesn’t serve anyone for your pet to be administered a product that is not going to do what we need it to do. 

When an online pharmacy is used, especially one that doesn’t require a prescription (which, by the way, is illegal), we may not be able to help decipher side effects or adverse events or even recommend appropriate monitoring or dosing changes. When used incorrectly, the online pharmacy can really hurt the quality of care for your pet.

Protection from Counterfeit Drugs and Other Worries

While the online pharmacy world is a little bit of a minefield, there are definitely good ones out there. 

Watch out for red flags when ordering online from a pet pharmacy such as:

  • Not requiring a prescription from a licensed veterinarian
  • No licensed pharmacist on staff
  • Lack of a physical address or contact information
  • Based outside of the United States
  • No license from the State Board of Pharmacy in the state the pharmacy is based
  • Prices that are drastically under those listed elsewhere
  • Purchased medications with warning signs such as weight ranges in kilograms vs pounds, stickers to hide foreign labeling, lack of an FDA or EPA approval number, or non-child resistant packaging

When it comes to counterfeit pet products, frequently purchased big-ticket items such as heartworm preventions, flea and tick preventions, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories such as Rimadyl are most often targeted. When it comes down to it, though, anything from an unmonitored source could be subject. 

At Clairmont Animal Hospital, we know that it is important for pet medication to be readily available and convenient for our clients. We work hard to keep a well-stocked in-house pharmacy of quality pet medications and pet wellness products that we can provide your pet.

We also provide the option of online ordering and home delivery through our online pharmacy that you can be sure is stocked with quality products that we recommend for your pet.  

Keeping pets safe and healthy is our ultimate goal. By educating owners about online pet medications, the worry of counterfeit drugs, and how the online pharmacy can impact quality of care, we hope that we are one step closer to achieving that goal.