According to the Humane Society, an astounding 67 million American households have one or more pet, spending over $50 billion on their beloved friends. Expenses include food, grooming, veterinary visits, and myriad other peripheral expenses, making owning a cat, dog or other fuzzy or not-so-fuzzy companion a significant financial cost. One of the largest of these expenses is pet medication. And because of this, along with a combination of a stagnant economy, increasing pet ownership and rising prices on pet medication, a vast and expanding market for discount pet medication has emerged online. All sorts of deeply discounted drugs for pets are available from around the world. Some are good deals, some are not, and still others can be downright dangerous for pets. Over two-thousand pet owners have shared their experiences via reviews on Sitejabber, with some 49% of them encountering issues–below are some of the most common we should watch out for.
Never Ending Auto-Shipment
One commonly encountered issue is with medications that are “auto-shipped” because cancelling payment can prove to be extremely challenging. Reviewer Julie had a heck of a time canceling her auto-ship charges:
“They will not stop the shipments I don’t care how far in advance you notify them and if you find yourself with an unwanted shipment…I cancelled the auto-ship in 02/10 they sent it anyway in April and then attempted to send yet another one in June!”
If you do elect to participate in an auto-ship program and decide to discontinue your subscription, be sure to inform your credit card company to put a block on the company charging you. Otherwise, there’s a risk of the company will keep sending you stuff you don’t want and of course charging you for it.
Unreliable Shipping (And The Risk Of Prolonged Suffering)
Many reviewers have reported online pet medications taking unreasonable lengths of time to arrive. Even if you pay additional money for priority shipping, you could be left with a long wait for the medication to actually arrive; in some cases our reviewers have had to wait for over a month. Reviewer Amie tells a sad story of her pet’s long wait for much needed medication:
“She has heart failure and the pain and suffering that she will experience without this medicine is more than she can bare. When I placed my order over the phone, I was given 2 options; Free shipping or Priority shipping. I paid for Priority shipping. They used (Free) shipping and my dog will pay the price for this mistake.”
In addition, some reviewers have encountered paying extra for expedited shipping only to have their medication delayed because additional authorization is needed from your pet’s veterinarian:
“I paid extra for expedited shipping… Three days later I get an email from them, stating the order has not been shipped and is waiting on authorization! This company is a joke, I will never rely on them again for my pets meds.”
In fact, it appears that many very cheap online pet meds seem cheap but are in fact much more expensive once you factor in the cost of shipping if you need the medication quickly. One Sitejabber reviewer reports:
“Deceptive shipping practices. I paid for overnight shipping since my pet was sick, but I found out after the fact that they wouldn’t actually ship overnight unless I paid $55”
Still other companies will charge you immediately but it may take extremely long for the medication to actually arrive:
“I was charged immediately for my purchase. However, it was only after a FULL MONTH that they shipped my product. Basically they didn’t ship my product until after I complained. Their prices are good, but it’s not worth it.”
To make matters worse, you can end up paying even more in vet bills if your important medication is delayed. Long shipment waits may end up costing you more on emergency visits for your sick animal. Kathy found herself in this unfortunate situation:
“I ordered meds weeks before out to ensure they would not go without……it is now almost 3 weeks and my dog ended up in ICU because I am out of meds and with thousands in vet bills”
If you’re in a rush for your pet’s medications, you may be better off biting the bullet and paying full retail value at your veterinarian hospital. If you do order urgent pet medication online, be sure to have another plan ready so your pet doesn’t have to suffer if the medication doesn’t arrive on time.
Meds That Never Come
Reviewers have reported some online pet med companies simply don’t have adequate shipping standards. Your order could end up being delayed or lost despite communication and confirmation of the expected shipment date:
“I ordered a product on May 5th. It is now May 25th and have not received it. I called last week to inquire about my order and got an email in return saying that it would be here this week. It’s Friday late afternoon and still nothing”
Or even worse, some pet med companies never ship the order, even after you have paid. This happened to Hoyle:
“they charged me and never sent the product. They also charged me for an order I cancelled, two weeks AFTER I cancelled it!!”
If it seems like you’ve been waiting too long for your shipment to arrive, check the order status and tracking number which should be provided by the company upon purchase.
Be wary of pet pharmacies that do not use original packaging of prescription drugs. Your pet’s health could be at stake. Wanda’s story will make any pet owner spooked about giving your pet a suspicious prescription:
“I purchased Trifexis for my dog…. I gave her her monthly dosage. Within hours, her behavior changed. She became lethargic, hiding under the bed, and stumbling as she tried to walk. …when the Trifexis arrived in the mail, it was not in the original packaging. It was in a prescription pill bottle….. It took a couple of days for my dog to become herself again.”
For most pet owners, your animal(s) is part of your family and you really only want what’s best for your family. To think you could be purchasing medication that is harmful and potentially dangerous to your pet’s health is a tough pill to swallow.
Be careful of Rogue pharmacies that exist online. These “Rogue Pharmacies” may not be properly accredited and can even lack an address or phone number. In an effort to help you avoid these kind of pharmacy businesses, here at Sitejabber we’ve listed pharmacies that have been considered “Rogue”.
One such site is Trustedpetmeds.com. Although now listed as out of business, this one site has been investigated by LegitScript, a NABP recognized organization that validates online pharmacies and has been given “rogue” status. For more information, please visit the LegitScript report.
Still, pet med sites that lack accreditation and validation do still exist. Before Trustedpetmeds.com went out of business here is what happened to one user, Shawn:
“NO CUSTOMER SERVICE NUMEBR … WEB SITE SAYS ITS SHIPPED…had I known that they had NO CUSTOMER SERVICE NUMBER .. and ALSO no adddress for the company anywhere on the internet .. I would have NEVER ORDERED FROM THEM!!!!”
It’s in both you and your pet’s interest to check the legitimacy of the online pet pharmacy prior to doing business with them.
Keeping Your Pets Healthy And Happy
Pet medications can quickly become a large expense so finding an online pharmacy that offers pet medication at a discount can be a great idea. But, it’s wise to check the company credentials in advance. You can check sites like LegitScript.com to see if they are a legitimate business and see what other pet owners are saying about a given company on Sitejabber.com. Before you jump into making a purchase with one of these companies, check if you will be enrolled in an auto-ship program, and if you are, investigate in how easy it is to get out of. If your pet is in dire need of medication, have a local pharmacy or veterinarian office in mind in case the shipment is delayed.