Buying pet medications online - Is it a good idea?

Buying pet medications online - Is it a good idea?

Health & Safety

If you’ve ever ordered pet food online, browsed websites selling animal gear, or have researched the best and most keenly priced flea and worming treatment methods available for your pets, then it probably hasn’t escaped your notice that you can also buy a wide range of pet medications and supplements online too.

The cost of keeping a pet of any kind is expensive, and if your pet requires veterinary treatment or an ongoing course of medication, the fees can rise significantly.

An increasing number of pet owners find themselves turning to the internet in order to try and reduce the costs of providing essential medications and supplements for their pets, and done carefully, this can indeed be a viable option to save you money on the ongoing cost of preventative care and prescription medications. But buying online is not without its risks, and there are a few rogue sites, unscrupulous traders and potential pitfalls to look out for when buying supplements or medications from a source other than directly via your vet.

If you’re trying to work out if buying online is a good idea and how to avoid falling into any traps along the way, read on for our advice on how to de-mystify the process of buying pet medications online.

Buying flea and worming treatments online

One of the most obvious ways to save money on the ongoing costs of preventative healthcare, are to buy supplemental treatments such as wormers and flea treatments directly from the internet. Products such as Frontline, Drontal and other pet care staples that can also be purchased directly from your veterinary surgery are usually significantly cheaper online, and can mean a big saving for pet owners. Some products such as Advocate and Advantix flea and tick treatments are not, at time of writing, available to buy online without a prescription, so if your vet dictates that these products are the best choice for your pet, you may not have the option of ordering directly without a prescription.

Prescription medications online

Any product that your pet is prescribed by your vet that is denoted on the packaging as ‘POM’ (prescription-only medicine) or ‘POM-V’ (prescription-only medicine-Veterinary) requires a prescription to be issued by your vet before you will be permitted to buy them on the internet.

This does not mean that you will be unable to order these products online, but it does mean that you will need to explain to your vet that you wish to do this and ask them to issue you with a prescription that you will need to provide to the company that supplies you. Under new regulations, veterinary surgeons are obliged to provide a prescription to allow pet owners to order products independently and source the medications that their pet needs themselves, so your vet should not insist that you buy only from them or deny you a prescription to be able to do this. However, the vast majority of veterinary surgeries charge a fee for providing a prescription to be used elsewhere, usually costing anything from £5- £12. Bear this in mind when pricing up the cost of ordering medications online, as it may mean that any saving you will make is negligible, or in the case of cheaper medications, even possibly more costly when you factor in the charge for the prescription itself!

Veterinary advice- don’t buy without it

If you’re considering feeding your pet a supplement or want to buy anything else that could have a direct or indirect on their health and wellbeing- even for the better- it’s important to talk to your vet about this and get their thoughts before buying. Even products that don’t need a prescription, such as herbal supplements, may affect the health of your pet or possibly interact with other medications.

How to pick a site to buy from

If you have established that you would like to buy your pet’s medications online, have discussed this with your vet and wish to arrange to have a prescription issued to allow you to do this, the next step is to find a suitable site to purchase your medications from.

You wouldn’t buy medications for yourself or your family that were of an unknown provenance or possibly risky, so be sure that you don’t do this for your pet either.

Look for websites based in the UK that can fill UK veterinary prescriptions, and that have a clear and transparent sales and shipping policy, as well as easy to find contact details (both a physical address and a phone number as well as an email contact). You will need this both in order to verify that the website is legitimate and above board and so that you will be able to get support easily if your package doesn’t arrive or there is a problem with your order.

Your vet might even be able to recommend a website or a couple of recommended websites that you might want to consider. Remember that the site that you choose to buy from will need to receive both a fax and possibly the hard copy of your pet’s prescription, and may need to contact your veterinary surgeon directly to verify the genuine nature of your purchase. This is all totally normal and no cause for concern.

Pitfalls to avoid

Unfortunately, as with any potentially lucrative business, there are always a few unscrupulous companies and individuals out there who will try their hardest to cash in on the potential concerns and needs of anxious pet owners that are just trying to do their best by their pets. This is especially true when buying pet medications online, which is why it is important to carefully assess the provenance of the websites that you buy from, for a wide range of reasons.

Only buy from websites that are within the UK, and that display contact details that you can verify. Never buy pet medications from abroad, even if they seem to be offering the same products cheaper than within the UK. Medications sent from abroad cannot be regulated in the same way that medications produced or sold in the UK can, and what you eventually receive for your pet- or even if you receive the products you pay for at all- may not be appropriate, safe or genuine.

Do not buy from any website that is written in poor or broken English- it is probably not a UK site. Similarly do not buy from any site that states it does not need a veterinary prescription in order to supply a prescription-only medication, or that says it can provide a veterinary prescription for you without examining your pet- these sites are not reputable or safe to use.

If anything about the website you are visiting sets off alarm bells for you or gives you reason to suspect that it is not reputable or genuine, simply do not proceed with your transaction. It may seem expensive to buy veterinary prescriptions from your vet, but it is still significantly cheaper than having your credit card details stolen, your money taken with no intention to supply, or a fake or dangerous products shipped for administration to your pet.

Follow the usual rules for staying safe online and avoiding phishing scams and use your common sense, and you will find that you won’t go far wrong.

Happy shopping!



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