Scam Alert: Be on the Lookout for Counterfeit Pet Medications

Scam Alert: Be on the Lookout for Counterfeit Pet Medications


With shipping delays slowing the delivery of items from all over the world, it’s more likely than ever that you could accidentally purchase counterfeit goods. This problem can be especially frustrating when it comes to pet medications.

Because of the difficulty some retailers are having in acquiring medications, unscrupulous scammers have found a niche selling counterfeit items to make a quick buck. This problem is particularly serious with high-priced medications that are in high demand.

What should you be on the lookout for to identify counterfeit pet medications?

What To Look Out For

There are a few signs that the medication you’ve purchased could be counterfeit. The first and easiest to spot is that the medication could be genuine but expired. Make sure all medications you plan to give your pets are not past their expiration date.

Another sign that the medication might be fake can be found in the packaging. If your pet’s medications aren’t in a tamper-proof bottle or have directions that aren’t in English, you may have bought a fake.

How This Happens

Some retailers don’t buy their pet medications exclusively from manufacturers. Instead, they might buy their goods from “diverted” sources. These sources are sometimes described as a gray market for goods because they’re not illegal per se, but they also aren’t the authorized wholesalers of the items in question.

Sometimes, these medications are simply close to or past their expiration dates. Other times, they could simply be fake medications: water in a tube labeled as “flea medicine,” a sugar pill instead of heartworm medication. In a best-case scenario, these goods are useless to your pets and a huge waste of your money.

At worst, these counterfeit medications could be actively harmful. Thankfully, there are some foolproof ways you can avoid these fake medications.

Where to Buy

Typically, it’s safest to purchase your pet’s medications directly from a vet’s office. This ensures the lowest chance that the item was sourced through the gray market.

Exercise caution when buying pet medications online. There have been numerous reports to the FDA of online pet pharmacy websites selling out-of-date or outright counterfeit drugs. If you’re purchasing medications for your pets from online sites, make sure that you’re buying from a trusted site that has been recommended by your veterinarian.

If you feel as though medications you’ve purchased online might be counterfeit, take the medication and your pet to the vet to have them check on your pet’s health.

Sometimes, even physical retail locations may sell gray market pet medications. While you might expect large pet stores to have stricter guidelines for sourcing these items, extremely high demand combined with low supply can lead to counterfeits slipping through the cracks. Just keep an eye out for the signs, such as non-English instruction, stickers covering foreign labels, and measurements in metric when they’re normally in the imperial system.