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A guide to buying pet medication online

When your pet is poorly and in need of treatment, the costs can quickly add up. This is why an increasing number of pet owners are searching online to find cheaper medication.

Buying pet medication online is a cost effective alternative. However, as with any online purchase, owners should shop with caution and beware of online companies selling counterfeit products and unapproved medication.

This guide will help you to understand the process of buying pet medication online and how to shop safely. 

What to look for in an online pet pharmacy

Most online pharmacies will have to contact the vet practice to verify a prescription, so it may be beneficial for you use a pharmacy your vet is familiar with. 

Even with a trusted recommendation, it is still a good idea to conduct your own research and background checks. Here are a few things to look out for to ensure you’re ordering from a trusted site: 

Registered pharmacy- A reputable dispensary will be registered with the VMD (Veterinary Medicines Directorate) and their website should display their mark, showing that they are an accredited retailer.

On-site Veterinary Surgeon or Pharmacist – An online pharmacy should have a qualified team to check prescriptions and make sure medicines are stocked, in date and dispensed correctly. You can confirm the veterinary surgeons’ details on the RCVS register and pharmacists on the GPhC website.

A prescription is always required- Prescription only medicines (POM-V) require a veterinary prescription. Do not buy from any website that states it does not need a veterinary prescription in order to supply prescription medication. 

Prominent contact details- The site must have a phone number, address and an email address. It’s even better if they have customer services hours. If there is a problem with your pet’s medication, you want to be sure you can speak to someone in good time. 

Special deliveries-There are some medications that require temperature control and insulated packaging to keep the product within the manufacturer’s specified temperature range. Make sure there is a clear delivery process in place so that you know the medication will arrive safely. 

How it works

Once you have decided you would like to buy your pet’s prescription medication online, you are entitled to ask your vet for a written prescription. You will have to pay a fee for the prescription, so remember to add this to the cost. 

All online pet pharmacies have a process for ordering prescription medication. It’s likely you will be required to register your pet’s details and send an image of the prescription via upload, email or post the original.

Top tips for a smooth process

 Making sure your pet’s prescription has the correct information is important. If the online pharmacy receives a prescription with the wrong details, it can delay the approval process. Here are some checks you can do before sending your pet’s prescription: 

Make sure your prescription is valid– By law the maximum length of a time that a veterinary prescription can be valid for is 6 months, so you’ll need to return to your vet for a new, valid one and pay again once it has expired, or the allocation has been ordered in full.

Pets on long term medication- Vets can write repeat prescriptions to be used a number of times over 6 months, saving you time and money. For example, if your cat requires 1 tube of eye ointment per month, a repeat prescription for six months treatment would state 5 repeats. This includes the original prescription plus the five times it can be repeated.

Check with your vet whether your pet prescription is for Controlled Drugs– If it is, the prescription cannot be scanned as a copy. You’ll need to post the original document to the pharmacy.

Make sure the prescription is nice and clear – The pharmacist and vets need to be 100% on what’s being prescribed and for which animal and that the prescription is recent/valid. In the majority of cases (apart from Controlled Drugs) an uploaded copy will be acceptable but in some instances, your vet will state that the original document should be posted. Bear the postal time in mind when placing your order.

Order in good time– Allow for delivery so that you don’t run out of necessary pet medication.

If you’re unsure about anything on your pet’s prescription, it’s always best to talk your vet first. 

Buying pet medication online isn’t for everyone, but done correctly, it can offer huge savings, as a well as the added convenience of having the medication delivered to your door.


By Emily Moss, Animed Direct

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