With today’s economy, many people are struggling to pay bills and keep food on the table. Tight budgets often don’t allow for a lot of veterinary care and medications. Pet owners are looking for ways to save money yet care for their furry friends.
We see a lot of requests for prescriptions through online pet pharmacies. Pet owners often find their pets’ medications at a lower price through online pharmacies than what they can get it for from their veterinarians. But is there a catch?
The answer is yes.
Most veterinary clinics have limited storage and can only stock a certain quantity of medications. Their orders are smaller and more frequent than larger places that can stock and store a larger quantity of products at a time.
When veterinary clinics purchase medications, those medications come from the manufacturers. We can trust that the medications are packaged correctly, stored correctly, and therefore will do as they are labeled. Manufacturers of veterinary products do not sell to online pet pharmacies. Those pharmacies get their products from other channels (third party, gray market, etc), not the manufacturer. There is no way to track how those medications have been handled or stored. Improper handling and storage can alter the effectiveness of the medication. They may also have a very short expiration date or have been repackaged.
Some online pharmacies are located in areas where they may not require a prescription for certain medications. This is dangerous as many medications require periodic testing to be sure your pet is on the correct medication and correct dosing. Most medications recommended by your veterinarian require a prescription for a reason-to be sure you have the correct dosing, schedule for use, and it is appropriate for your pet to be taking that medication. When you buy from your vet, your vet has your pet’s records and can make sure this is the proper medication for your pet, the proper dosing, and can answer questions about potential side effects, etc., as they pertain to your pet.
Many online pharmacies say that their products are 100% guaranteed….but are they? The pharmacy may guarantee them, but manufacturers do not. Most manufacturers guarantee that their products will do as they are labeled, and if they do not, will pay for treatment. For example, you have given your dog heartworm medication on time every month, yet one year your dog tests heartworm positive. If you can prove that you purchased a steady supply of heartworm medication from your veterinarian, the manufacturer will pay for treatment. However, if you purchased your heartworm medication elsewhere, manufacturers will not pay for treatment.
Some companies give rebates or coupons available exclusively through your veterinarian. For example, our flea & tick prevention is buy 6 get 2 free. You will not get this deal unless you purchase the medication from your veterinarian.
Suburban Animal Clinic recommends not purchasing medications from online pharmacies and will not mail, call or fax a prescription (including phone authorization) as recommended by the Ohio Veterinary Licensing Board. We will write you a prescription for you to mail or fax in if you so desire.
Suburban Animal Clinic does offer an online store, Vet’s First Choice, which is linked to our website. Vet’s First Choice is a secured site that offers many of the medications, (including heartworm and flea/tick prevention) that we offer in our office, as well as others that we do not stock. These products do come directly from the manufacturers so the manufacturer guarantee is in place. You do not, however, qualify for many of the rebates and specials when purchasing from our online store. Products requiring a prescription will come via an email to our doctors who will review your pet’s records and make a desicion about the medication. These products are shipped directly to your home, saving you a trip to the vet.
Many places are coming out with generic products that are supposed to be the same as you get at the vet. Use caution with some of these generics. While the active ingredients may be the same, often the inactive ingredients, or “carrier” as we call it, may not be the same. This can make a difference in some pets as to reactions and product effectiveness.
With those thoughts, even though it looks ‘exactly the same as what you can get from your vet' and is cheaper, is it worth the risk of your pet’s health?
Please be sure to check out our online store at www.suburbananimalclinic.com and click on online store.