US - COUNTERFEIT PET DRUGS The FDA has issued a consumer alert to pet owners, warning them about the dangers of buying discounted pet drugs online. The FDA warns that its own investigations have found online companies that sell unapproved drugs or other counterfeit products and some will sell them without a veterinarian prescription. The FDA advises pet owners who want to buy online drugs to place orders at sites that are a Vet-VIPPS (Veterinary-Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites) accredited pharmacy. (Veterinary Advantage)
I know it is sometimes tempting to try to find a "deal" on medication for your animal, but the FDA has issued a very valid warning with good reasoning behind their concerns. Website pharmacies who dispense drugs without a veterinary exam or try to evaluate your pet through a questionnaire on their website are potentially putting your animal in danger. It is very difficult to assess and diagnose an animal without an actual hands on examination. Often, results of blood tests must be reviewed before dispensing certain medications to ensure that your pet will not be harmed by taking the drug.
There are two types of medications sold online through disreputable websites that are especially concerning.
NSAIDS - Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Heart Worm Medication
I've written about NSAIDS before under the title Is She In Pain? as well as the post titled Top 10 Human Medications that Poison Pets. In addition to that information there is really only one NSAID that can be given to cats and it is only approved for one injection after surgery. Otherwise, any NSAID given to a cat can cause life threatening kidney damage.
Secondly, heart worm medication can be harmful or even fatal to your dog if already infected with heartworm. Before starting a preventive program, all dogs should be tested for heartworms.
Adult heartworms produce millions of microscopic "baby" heartworms (called microfilaria) into the bloodstream. When you give a monthly heartworm preventive to a dog with circulating microfilaria, this can cause the sudden death of microfilaria, triggering a shock-type reaction. Even if your dog does not have this type of reaction, heartworm preventives do not kill the adult heartworms (although they may shorten the worms' life expectancy). This means an infected dog will remain infected with adult heartworms.
Unfortunately, as long as a pet remains infected, heartworm disease will progress and damage the heart and lungs, which can lead to life threatening problems. Giving heartworm preventives to heartworm-positive dogs can mislead an owner into thinking everything is all right, while within a pet, heartworm disease is worsening.
The moral of the story...look for the Vet-VIPPS certification before buying online.