Not All Online Pharmacies are Created Equal: A guide to knowing which vendors are reputable and provide safe medications for your pet.

Ellen Zangla Photography

These days it seems there are a plethora of advertisements and television commercials for online pet pharmacies where cute cartoon animals happily retrieve their monthly tick or heartworm preventatives right from the mailman at the front door.   It’s true, online pet pharmacies are a convenient way to purchase Fido’s or Fluffy’s preventatives, chronic medications, or even prescription foods without making an extra trip to the veterinarian.  And with enticing claims such as cheaper prices or no prescription required, it’s easy to get lured into thinking these products are just as sound as those sold by your veterinarian.  Unfortunately, this is not always the case.   While there are honest and dependable online pharmacy retailers, many are not.  To sort out the good from the bad, the FDA has put together a list of recommendations to help consumers become online pharmacy A.W.A.R.E.   Here are some of the highlights:

A-   Ask Your Veterinarian

Leesburg Veterinary Hospital Online Pharmacy Meds

Don’t feel embarrassed about talking with us about purchasing medication outside of the hospital.  We understand you want to take care of your pet in the most financially responsible way; we will tell you our honest opinions and experiences with various retailers and websites.  We also have our own online pharmacy to provide you with a trustworthy and affordable alternative. (More on LVH’s pharmacy in a bit).

W- Watch for Red Flags

If an offer seems too good to be true, then it probably is.  Yes, getting an up-to-date written script from your veterinarian can sometimes be a hassle, but it is both illegal and unethical for a site to dispense medications without a formal veterinarian consent stating your pet is in good health and required to take a specific medication. Certain preventatives such as Frontline can be sold through online distributors or big box retailers without a prescription, however we do recommend purchasing these preventatives through our hospital or online pharmacy to insure the preventives are not fakes.  Also, many medications have strict storage and transportation requirements.  Most drug manufacturers will not supply the majority of internet pharmacies, so the source of the medications is called into question and any medication guarantees will not be honored if purchased from an unauthorized source.

Here are some other warnings that a particular online pharmacy may not have your pet’s best interest in mind:

  • Site does not have a licensed pharmacist to answer questions
  • Site does not list a physical business address or phone number
  • Site’s prices are dramatically lower than our hospital prices or other online pharmacies
  • The medication or packaging looks very different than what your pet normally takes.
  • Site is not based in the United States- domestic pharmacies must adhere to various local, state, and federal licensing and inspection requirements.

A-   Always check site accreditation

It is important to look for the Vet-VIPPS (Veterinary Verified Internet Pharmacy Sites) Seal.

VIPPS Online Pharmacy

This certifies the online pharmacy meets benchmarks set by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP).  In addition to the federal and state regulations, the NABP standards cover criteria such as consumer confidentiality, identity theft, and quality assurance.

R- Report Problems and Suspicious Online Pet Pharmacies

If you believe you have visited a site where suspicious or illegal activity is taking place, please report it to the FDA here.

E- Education

Leesburg Veterinary Hospital Dr. Boyle

As a responsible pet owner and consumer, always do as much homework as you can before purchasing medications from an online source.  Remember, these products are intended to help, not hinder, your pet’s health, well-being and longevity.  Our doctors and staff are always here to answer your questions and sort through your options.  We’ve also done our homework to offer a convenient and trustworthy online pharmacy specifically for our clients.

One online phamarcy that you can depend on for reliable and regulated medications is our new partner –  Vets First Choice!

VetsFirstChoice Logo

Vets First Choice online pharmacy is only available to veterinary hospitals, so you can be sure your pet’s medication and food refills are regulated by our trusted medical staff.   The products are shipped to your home directly from the manufacturer just as they would be sent to us – but it saves you a trip to our hospital!  What’s more, Vets First Choice offers instant savings and similar promotions that you would normally receive on medications purchased at our hospital  – something most online pharmacies and big box stores do not offer.  For new customers, enter the coupon code welcome62 and get $5.00 off your first order.

VetsFirstChoice Coupon

Take the guesswork out of online pharmacies and try LVH’s reliable online pharmacy.  If you’re ready to get started, click on the picture below to visit their site.  You can also call us and we will pre-approve your prescription through Vets First Choice to speed up the process for you.

VetsFirstChoice Leesburg Vet

*If you would still like to purchase your pet’s medications elsewhere, we request that you call us at least 24 hours ahead to request a written prescription.  Due to prior issues with fraudulent purchases, our hospital will not longer fax a prescription under any circumstances.


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