On Your Side Alert: Pet drugs online, buyer beware

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - If you have a pet, chances are you've had to buy pet medications but the Food and Drug Administration warns, use caution if you plan to purchase medication online.  The problem, not every site is legit and sometimes that bargain online could be putting you pet's health at risk.

There's no denying the love people have for their pets, it's why Veterinarian, Dr. Angela Ivey, with the Richmond SPCA says don't be so quick to buy pet medications online. '"You really have to research to find out whether or not they have a Pharmacist on board and whether or not they have a brick and mortar address, where you can call and whether or not they are somebody you can really go back to if you have a problem," she says.

The crooks are always on the prowl but keep in mind, not everyone online site is running a scam. There are reputable sites out there. One way to make sure a site is legit look for the Vet-Vipps seal or checkout a pharmacy with the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy's website.

Dr. Ivey says it all boils down to money. Consumers are trying to find the best deal but while you're trying to save, crooks are hoping to catch you off guard. "With the economy, people are looking to find the things their pet need at an affordable price, so I think that makes you apt to be taken advantage of," Dr. Ivey explains.

Remember, these fake sites are good at fooling consumers and the medicine you get may even like the real thing. If you don't do your research, you are putting your pet's health at risk. "If you find online, that the price is too good to be true, they are probably not reputable. If you find they are going to sell you something that your Veterinarian says you need a prescription for without a prescription, they are probably not reputable," she says.

Many of the fake sites will sell you expired or botched medication. Consumer advocates say before you even think about buying pet medications online, talk to your veterinarian and if you can't afford the medicine, let them know and ask questions. "Is there an alternative, is there a generic, is there something I may be able to get with a written prescription," she says.

Other red flags if you're shopping online, sites based overseas and pet medication that does not look the usual ones you give your pet. The FDA says it is especially concerned that pet owners are headed online to buy two types of commonly used prescription drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs and heart-worm preventives.

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