Online Pet Pharmacies - Saving Money or Risk to Your Pets?

Image of hands holding a cat.

Their ads promise to save you lots of money and even "a stressful trip to the veterinarian". You are encouraged by slick video and professional announcers to purchase flea medications, pain relief drugs and even heartworm prevention all from the comfort of your living room and laptop computer. But, are online pet pharmacies really the best option for you or are there hidden dangers?

With record numbers of families enjoying the benefits of pet ownership and online shopping, it should come as no surprise that the amount of money spent on our pets is huge. Experts are forecasting that pet owners will spend more than $50 billion dollars annually. A significant percentage of those expenses include veterinary care and prescription medications. So, is it any wonder that buying your prescription medications online may also look like a good deal?

At first glance, online pet pharmacies would seem to be a great option. The promise of lower prices and having the medication shipped to your door is a big selling point for busy, budget conscious people. But, there are some pitfalls when relying on Internet based sources for your pet's medication needs.

First, they all say you can "save a trip to the vet". Unfortunately, this is only partially true. In order to prescribe and dispense medication to your pet, most states require that there is a valid veterinarian-client-pet relationship or VCPR. This is usually defined as a veterinarian having examined your pet within the last 12 months. If the VCPR does not exist, medication cannot be dispensed.

Some websites will offer to sell the drugs without a prescription. This is not only illegal but not in the best interest of your pet! Websites that sell without needing prescriptions are most often based outside of North America, where pharmacy and drug laws may not be as strict.

The requirement for this professional relationship insures that you and your veterinarian have good, up to date facts about your pet's health. Plus the medical records and history for your pet are all in one place. The veterinary staff also knows your whole pet family and can help prevent problems when there are multiple species present in the household.

Since pets are unique individuals, some may have unexpected reactions to certain drugs and some medications can even be deadly if given incorrectly. Others may need a special formulation for ease of administration. The online pharmacies will not know this information and this could be a problem if your pet is on several medications or has secondary conditions.

If a life-threatening emergency happens with a medication, your veterinarian is only a phone call away. Some online pharmacies only allow contact through email and this will not help you if your pet needs assistance immediately!

Finally, despite many good businesses online, there will always be a few who are looking for a quick buck at your expense. Avoid sites that offer dramatically lower prices than competing sites or your veterinarian. Likewise, if you have ordered medication online, check the drug to make sure it looks similar to what you have given before. If it looks different in any way, do not give it to your pet.

The FDA is so concerned about this, it is now warning pet owners to be aware of shady online companies. And, the National Board of Pharmacies has instituted the Veterinary Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites program (Vet-VIPPS) to help you find properly licensed and compliant online pet pharmacies. Only twelve companies so far have earned the right to display the Vet-VIPPS seal of approval.

Check with your veterinarian about online pharmacies. Many veterinary hospitals now offer their very own store on their websites. You can order your pet's medications conveniently from home, possibly even get home delivery and you know that the source is reputable. In addition, you will know who you are talking to in case of any problems or concerns. Honest and open communication with your veterinarian about cost concerns will prevent misunderstandings about money and help you do what's best for your pet.

No form settings found. Please configure it.

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule

Monday:

7:00

Varies

Tuesday:

7:00

Varies

Wednesday:

7:00

Varies

Thursday:

7:00

Varies

Friday:

7:00

Varies

Saturday:

Closed

Closed

Sunday:

Closed

Closed

Location

Find us on the map

Testimonial

Read What Our Clients Say

  • "Dr. Savell has always gone above and beyond for the care of our family's pets for several years."
    John Doe Newport News, VA

Featured Articles

Read about interesting topics

  • Skunks

    Home and Veterinary Care for Pet Skunks If you're an adventurous pet owner, you may love exotic animals such as skunks. You'll be happy to learn that skunks can indeed make excellent domestic pets, but only if they receive the proper care to enjoy a happy, healthy life. Your veterinary team can help ...

    Read More
  • Sugar Gliders

    Thinking of getting a sugar glider? These tiny marsupials are energetic and friendly, making them popular choices as pets. Though they weigh less than a half-pound, they're more closely related to kangaroos than they are flying squirrels. If you think a sugar glider would make an ideal pet for your family, ...

    Read More
  • Flying Squirrels

    Much like sugar gliders, flying squirrels make affectionate pets when purchased young and raised by their owner. Unlike sugar gliders, however, flying squirrels are rodents that need veterinary care specific to the species. Your veterinary team can help with the care and treatment of flying squirrels. ...

    Read More
  • Rats

    Did you know rats make surprisingly affectionate pets? If you're thinking of bringing home a pet rat, here's what you need to know. Health Rats that are bred especially as pets are safe to keep and should be free of disease. But common conditions may affect your rats from time to time. Your veterinarian ...

    Read More
  • Chinchillas

    Chinchillas are playful, loveable, and amusing pets. If you want yours to remain in your family for long, you should ensure that it has a good diet. Chinchillas require a lot of attention due to their playful nature; therefore, it is best to have supervised playtime with yours if you want to create a ...

    Read More
  • Fennec Foxes

    Fennec Fox Care Guide With oversized ears and mischievous faces, fennec foxes are cute as can be. But these exotic pets require a lot of care to stay healthy and happy. Health At just three pounds, fennec foxes are the smallest member of the fox family. Native to the Sahara desert, fennec foxes are ...

    Read More
  • Guinea Pigs

    Curious and inquisitive by nature, guinea pigs make great pets. These little bundles of fur are quite social and enjoy spending time with the people who handle, feed, and groom them. As a pet, guinea pigs are relatively low maintenance, rarely aggressive, and fun to own. How to Care Guinea pigs are playful, ...

    Read More
  • Prairie Dogs

    Prairie dogs are cute, affable creatures. But before taking one on as a pet, check your local laws. In some states, such as Colorado, it's illegal to keep prairie dogs as pets. Mostly, this is because they may spread monkeypox. If you live in a state that welcomes pet prairie dogs, be sure to buy from ...

    Read More
  • Gerbils

    Gerbils are great little pets for pet owners who don't have room for a dog or cat. They're friendly and fun to watch, but they do take a moderate level of care and investment. If you're thinking of getting a gerbil, here's what you'll need to know to keep him happy and healthy, including giving him a ...

    Read More
  • Hedgehogs

    Shy animals that roll into a ball when scared, hedgehogs are covered with spiky quills. They're small, clean, and fun to watch so they're quite popular as pets. Even so, these little guys need lots of activity to stay healthy. Health Hedgehogs can have health problems, including dental diseases, skin ...

    Read More

Newsletter Signup

Sign up for more articles