We all know that vet care can get expensive, especially when the season for heartworm and flea & tick preventatives comes around again. This leads many owners to search for cost-cutting alternatives to preventatives sold through the vet. Although this is certainly an option, it’s important to know the risks involved with bargain shopping online for your flea and tick and/or heartworm preventatives.


Preventatives sold through your veterinary clinic are guaranteed through the company that manufactures them. This guarantee is only true for products bought directly from your veterinarian, not through online retailers. There is no way to know for sure how the products sold through online retailers were stored, handled, or purchased, so there is no guarantee for safety or efficacy. On the flip side, a product purchased through your veterinary clinic comes with a guarantee. For example, if your dog is diagnosed with heartworm but has been taking Heartgard® that has been purchased directly from your veterinarian and being given as directed for 9 months of the year, Merial, the manufacturer of Heartgard®, will cover the cost of your pet’s treatment (1). You may save a few dollars buying Heartgard® through an online retailer, but in the event that your pet is diagnosed with heartworm disease, treatment could end up costing you more than $1,000 with no guarantee from the manufacturer.

There have also been many reports over the years of online retailers selling counterfeit or out of date products, so there is always some risk involved with using preventatives purchased this way. Reports include: lot numbers not matching between the box and the product, expired products being sold with fake expiration dates, the manufacturer name not being shown on the box at all, or the product itself simply looking nothing like the one purchased at your veterinary clinic (2). In 2017, the CEO of a US packaging contractor pleaded guilty to selling counterfeit packaging artwork to online retailers, with fake packages including Frontline and Frontline Plus, two of the more commonly used forms of flea and tick preventatives (3). Products sold by your veterinarian are purchased directly from the manufacturer, while products sold by online retailers may or may not come from a reliable source – there is no guarantee.

There are plenty of things we have to worry about for our beloved furry friends, but trusting your preventatives shouldn’t be one of them.


Article written by: Norah