It’s not difficult to see why the online sales of pet medicines are becoming more and more popular. First, they are often cheaper compared to buying from your vet or from a brick-and-mortar pet store. Second, you can order all the pet medicines you need from one source and get it delivered right to your doorstep. You won’t even need to leave the comfort of your home to fulfill all your pet’s medical needs. Finally, you can compare different brands and manufacturers, and easily find one that fits your budget.
However, the old adage of “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is” definitely applies here, and you need to be really careful to find a reliable online pet pharmacy to ensure that you are buying legitimate medicines for your pet. Otherwise, you could be gambling with your pet’s health and life, all for the sake of saving some money.
Counterfeit Pet Medicines are on the Rise
Sadly, there are people out there who don’t care about endangering other people’s pets as long as they make a quick profit. It’s quick and easy to make large amounts of money selling counterfeit pet medications, especially if they are going for “discounted” prices. There is no good outcome if you purchase counterfeit pet medications from a shady online pet pharmacy. At best, you will receive expired medication, or even “watered down” medication (where the dosage has been cut with filler substances in order to make it cheaper to produce). At worst, you will be receiving medication that contains other substances entirely.
What Should I Look Out For?
Here are some of the red flags that you need to look for when trying to verify a certain pet pharmacy website’s legitimacy:
Old or Outdated Package Designs
Manufacturers often change their package designs to make them fresh and appealing to customers, as well as to differentiate them from old, unsold stock. Shady pet pharmacies will often sell medicines that use these obsolete packaging designs. Before making any purchase, check out the official manufacturer’s website to see the current packaging design that they are using.
Hard to Find or No Contact Information
A reputable pet pharmacy will always be available to answer any inquiries or concerns from their customers so they make sure that all their contact information is easily seen on their website. If you’re on a pet pharmacy website that has no contact information easily available, you should steer clear. Contact information should not only include phone numbers but also addresses of locations in the United States. Most fake online pet pharmacies just have an Email contact form and nothing else.
Inconsistent or Suspicious Seals and Packaging
Pet medicines come with the same tamper-proof seals and packaging as pharmaceuticals made for people. If you receive pet medicine that has tampered seals or clumsily repaired packaging, it’s a safe bet that these medicines aren’t safe and that the seller isn’t trustworthy.
Since pet medication is strictly regulated, any legitimate product will have clear and concise labels containing all the information that you need, such as the dosage, the list of active ingredients, safety information, and expiration date. Most fake medicines will lack one or more of the basic information required. Any legitimate medicine will also have an EPA registration number since pet medicines fall under EPA regulation. If you are unsure about a certain product’s legitimacy, one way to verify it is by checking the EPA’s website and see if the product is registered.
Protect Yourself — Always be A.W.A.R.E.
In order to protect the public and their pets from the dangers of fake pet medications, the FDA has the AWARE program in place. AWARE is an acronym which stands for:
- A- Ask your vet about the medicines or a certain pet pharmacy, especially if it’s online
- W- Watch out for red flags and immediately avoid any product that displays even one red flag
- A – Always check a website’s credentials, especially since they are selling pharmaceutical products
- R – Report any suspicious websites immediately
- E- Educate yourself about online pet pharmacies
If the Prices Are Too Good to be True
Discounts are good but when the prices seem too good to be true, you need to investigate. Fake pharmacies often try to entice customers by offering them amazing discounts on branded pet medicines. Unless you are on a paid membership plan, offering discount beyond a certain point is borderline impossible.