TUESDAY, Oct. 17, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- If you get medications online for your pets, be careful, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cautions.
Some websites sell unapproved or counterfeit drugs, make fraudulent claims, sell prescription drugs without requiring a prescription, or sell expired drugs. As a result, you could buy drugs that are unsafe or ineffective for your pet.
When ordering pet medications online be sure you're dealing with a reputable pharmacy.
One way to do that is to look for pharmacy websites ending in ".Pharmacy," said Dr. Martine Hartogensis, deputy director of the Office of Surveillance and Compliance in the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine.
Or order your pet medications from an outsourced prescription management service that's used by your veterinarian. These state-licensed internet pharmacy services work directly with the veterinarian. These pharmacies also require a prescription be written by the veterinarian. Check if your veterinarian uses an internet pharmacy service.
It's also important to first consult your veterinarian. An online pharmacy may claim that one of its veterinarians will assess your pet based on written information you provide, with no need for a physical examination. But that could be a warning sign that the pharmacy is not legitimate.
Going online to buy two types of widely used veterinary drugs -- heartworm preventives and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs -- can be especially risky.
"Both types of drugs can be dangerous if your vet doesn't get involved," Hartogensis said in an FDA news release.
"It's not generally a concern if you use a legitimate online pharmacy and mail in a prescription from your veterinarian, who is monitoring your pet. But if there is no veterinarian-client-patient relationship, it's a dangerous practice," she warned.
The American Veterinary Medical Association has more on pet medications.