Around the House

Online Pet Meds – Buyer Beware

I’m honored to introduce our veterinarian, Dr. Kathryn Stoltzfus, for today’s post. She has been caring for our pets for five years now, and is the Chief-of-Staff at Talleyville Veterinary Hospital in Wilmington Delaware.

Buying pet food and supplies online offers convenience and can be cheaper than your local pet store or veterinarian’s office. And as we head into summer, it can be tempting to save money on pricey flea and tick preventatives.

But when it comes to your pet’s medications – buyer beware. As a veterinarian, here’s why I would think twice before choosing to buy pet meds online.

Counterfeit Products Are a Real Issue

No matter how legitimate the product packaging and website appear, counterfeiting is a big issue. There is no guarantee that you’re buying the genuine product.

Recently I had a client order Trifexis, a flea and heartworm tablet for dogs, from an online store. Here you see how the boxes arrived – the expiration dates were blacked out, the tracking codes were scraped off, and a completely different insert package was used compared to the legitimate Trifexis. Who knows what is in these boxes?


Other times the signs are not so obvious, and depending on their supply chain, an online retailer may not even know they are selling counterfeit product.

Uncertain Quality Control

Delivery of expired product is another concern. Instead of being disposed of properly, expired pet medications can end up in secondary markets where they make their way to online retailers.

Many pet medications must be kept at a certain temperature to maintain efficacy. Even if the expiration date is valid, there is still the risk that the product wasn’t stored or transported properly.

For any medication that needs a written script, finding a website from outside of the US that does not require a script is a big red flag that you may not be getting what you think.

No Manufacturer Guarantee

Did you know that buying heartworm or flea and tick preventatives at your veterinarian rather than online comes with a manufacturer guarantee?

If your pet subsequently gets the parasite, the manufacturer will pay for the treatment. This does happen from time to time – and if you purchase the preventatives online, you’ve lost the guarantee.

Protecting Your Pet – You and Your Veterinarian

As a practicing veterinarian, I would prefer you purchase from me – I know how the medications have been handled and protected from contamination – but I also understand that we all have budgets.

Our professional code of conduct stipulates that we write a script for you to use elsewhere if you ask. But don’t assume that online meds always mean cost savings. Often you’ll find prices at your local vet are comparable or even cheaper than online outlets.

Most importantly, buying from your vet is a partnership that helps protect your pet against the risks of unsafe or ineffective product.

Have a safe and happy summer!


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