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How to Safely Buy Budget Pet Meds

Buying Affordable Pet Meds the Right Way

By Mary Kearl. August 08, 2013 | See Comments

How to Safely Buy Budget Pet Meds

Pet meds are often an essential expense for pet parents. However, some pet parents may not realize the dangers of buying cheap and inexpensive pet medications from untrustworthy websites or overseas. Find out more here.

Looking to save money on pet meds? Although pet-care costs can take a chunk out of your budget, there are ways to cut costs while still managing your loved one’s health.

Budget Pet Meds: Do’s and Don’ts

DON'T buy the medicine at the vet’s office. “That's often a mistake because vets' markups over wholesale start at 100 percent and frequently hit 160 percent, plus a $5 to $15 dispensing fee, according to the American Animal Hospital Association's latest Veterinary Fee Reference,” advises Consumer Reports.

DO ask your vet if there is a cheaper alternative, such as a medication formulated for humans that is as effective at treating the condition.

DON'T buy from a website that claims “no prescription is required” for pet drugs. The FDA says there are risks that you may end up purchasing products that are unapproved, unregulated, counterfeit, expired, or ones that make bogus claims. In particular, two commonly sought drugs—NSAIDs and heartworm preventativesrequire a vet’s involvement, especially since blood work is required before the former can be safely given and heartworm testing is necessary for the latter. Circumventing this only endangers your pet’s health.

DO shop on websites that are accredited pharmacies. Ninety-seven percent of online websites selling prescription drugs are not recommended by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP)--an organization that makes sure online pharmacies meet state and federal licensing requirements, assesses for quality assurance, and ensures prescriptions are valid. Seek out pharmacies that have been deemed Veterinary-Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (Vet-VIPPS), a status granted by the NABP, such as PetCareRx. You can find other such pharmacies on the NABP website (there are 24 in total). The online retailer should display a Vet-VIPPS seal (as PetCareRx does).

DO ask your vet for advice before shopping online. The FDA recommends asking your vet’s opinions of and experiences with online pharmacies.

DO see if the website is licensed by the state board of pharmacy in the state in which the business is located. You can find the contact information for each state on the NABP website.

PetCareRx is licensed in all 50 states.

NAPB offers these additional don’ts: Don’t buy from online budget pet med retailers that…

  • dispense prescription drugs when you fill out an online questionnaire.
  • don’t list a phone number or street address.
  • make you sign a waiver.
  • don’t offer a consultation with a pharmacist, if necessary.
  • only offer a limited kind of medicines.
  • are international websites, since these aren’t subject to FDA regulation.
  • get their customers via spam solicitations.

Want to spend less on pet medications?

Sign up for PetPlus, the first ever comprehensive savings plan for pets. Find out how much a membership will help you save.

More on Pet Medications

How To Prevent Heartworm in Dogs
Treating Cat and Dog PainwWith NSAIDs
Flea Repellents in Topical vs. Flea Pills

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Budget Pet Meds at a glance

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  • 1Ask your vet if a human-grade drug might be less expensive and perfectly able to treat your pet.
  • 2Don’t buy from companies that aren’t accredited pharmacies. Look for a Vet-VIPPS seal.
  • 3Don’t buy prescription meds from websites that don’t ask to see the prescription.
  • 4Make sure the pharmacy is licensed in your state. PetCareRx is licensed in all 50 states.