Drugs are expensive. Health care is expensive, even for our pets. Life is expensive and we are all trying to save money. So many of us turn to an online pharmacy to purchase medications for our pets. We are trying to save money. Are their drugs safe? Are their medications just as good as those you get at the veterinarians? Are they cheaper? The answer to all these questions is "Well, maybe, or maybe not". So how do you turn that "maybe" into a "yes"?
The key to any online pharmacy purchase is "Buyer Beware".
There are several basic rules to follow when shopping for medications online.
- Be certain the pharmacy you are using is licensed by your state pharmacy board. Avoid any pharmacy not registered with your state's pharmacy board. They are not practicing within the confines of your state's law. You will not have any recourse if something goes wrong. Many reputable online pharmacies carry licenses in multiple states.
- A prescription drug should require a prescription from your veterinarian. If you are purchasing drugs from international pharmacies, those drugs may not be FDA approved, which is illegal in the U.S. These drugs could potentially be dangerous to your pets.Be aware that non-FDA approved drugs may be counterfeit, not contain the correct active ingredients in the correct amounts, may not have any active ingredients, or worse yet may contain toxins.
- Never give a human medication to your pet, unless advised to do so by your veterinarian. Even over the counter medications can be very toxic, and even fatal, to your pet. A classic example is Tylenol and similar acetaminophen products. These kill cats. Cats and dogs are NOT small children. Their metabolisms are very unique and they handle drugs very differently from humans.
- Never allow the pharmacist to give you a substitution or alteration in our pet's prescription without first consulting your veterinarian. Pharmacists are well trained when it comes to human medicines. However, many of the same drugs are dosed very differently in our furry patients. If there is ANY question, have your pharmacist call your veterinarian for clarification, before you take the medication home.
- Ask about price. The same medication may have over a 400% price differential at different pharmacies! Yes we have seen it happen. Ask your veterinarian about price, too. You may be surprised that you can get many medications cheaper right at your pet's doctor's office, without all the time and hassle of filling a prescription. Often your veterinarian may have manufacturer rebates, coupons, and even free product which will ultimately make it more cost effective to purchase directly from them.
- Keep in mind that a number of manufacturers will only guarantee their product's performance if it is purchased directly from a veterinarian. For example, should your dog develop heartworm disease while taking a heartworm preventative you purchased through your veterinarian, treatment and diagnostics might be covered by the manufacturer. If you purchased the medication from an online pharmacy or from a pet store, you would be out of luck. Heartworm diagnostics and treatment are very expensive.
If you want to read more about online pharmacy safety in both the human and pet market, we suggest the FDA's website on prescription safety. If you want to learn more about specific prescription medications commonly dispensed by veterinarians, start on our Pet Care Medications page.
Our doctors at the Animal Clinic at Thorndale care most about your pet's health and safety. We will gladly write you a prescription upon request and discuss our product prices with you. Our inventory manager is always on the look out for specials offered by our pharmaceutical distributors. When items become limited in availability or suffer dramatic price increases, we will work to track down the product at the best pricing available to you. While we cannot always price compete with that big box online pharmacy, we do have excellent relationships with area pharmacists and can often find better pricing locally on a variety of products. We actively participate in manufacturer rebate, coupon, and free product offers. Add in the convenience of taking medications home with you directly from your pet's visit, eliminating the time and effort having a prescription filled elsewhere, you may just be surprised how much you can save getting your medications directly from your veterinarian.