7 On Your Side:On-Line Pet Medications - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

4/17/06

7 On Your Side:On-Line Pet Medications

Christine Small is the owner of three elderly pets. So she spends a lot of time - and money -- at the vet. "With everybody at the vets and everybody on medication, it's going to be a tough month," she says. Small is always looking for a good deal on pet meds but she's wary of ordering her medications online. "There's a lot of readjusting with medications, I think if you take your vet out of the equation, you're not going to have as good luck," says Small. The American Veterinary Medical Association says internet pet medication sites are growing. Some are perfectly legitimate but not all. It's one reason why East Texas Veterinarian Dr. Paul Gainer is particular about the sites he recommends to his clients. "The way we handle it here is when they are inquiring about buying through the internet we will give them a list of 4-5 companies, their 1-800 numbers, the websites, and let them research those companies and see if any of those companies they want to do business with," explains Dr. Gainer. Dr. Kevin Hahn, Chair of the AVMA Council of Biologic and Therapeutic Agents adds, "There are some great consumer buys online, but be very careful where you buy from because it may not be the right medication for your pet, it may not be the right formulation for your pet."
  So what can you do to protect your pet? Make sure the site has a certified pharmacy. Check what form your medication will come in...for instance chewable tablet versus a pill. Also your pet may not be able to wait for medication to arrive. And, remember, no one online knows your pet. "One of the disadvantages of an online pharmacy is that you're talking to a computer," says Dr. Hahn. "Different vets have different comfort zones on different companies. So the main thing is when you do want to buy through the internet, contact your vet and ask him which company he is comfortable doing business with for you," says Dr. Gainer. Another hitch? Not all vets want to fax in prescriptions for online pharmacies. Those who do, say it works best for routine care. Dr. Arthur B. Freedman with Hawthorne Animal Hospital says, "Most of the medication we do write prescriptions for is for heartworm preventive, which is usually pretty straightforward. We do have medications that we write for arthritis." Freedman also says the small markup he and most other vets charge for filling prescriptions in their office pharmacies help keep the cost of regular appointments lower and he says,"We want to keep in close contact with them."
  Finally, if you're comparing prices from these online websites don't forget to add in the cost of shipping.

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com

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