By D. Thurmond, D.V.M.

Let's face it - we spend a lot of money on our pets. They deserve the best care we can provide as members of our family. Veterinary care for pets has advanced significantly in recent years as have medications to prevent disease and parasites, and to stop the pain of arthritis or surgery.

Changes in veterinary care reflect the importance we place on family pets today. For many years dogs were spayed and sent home without any provision for pain. Today, it is routine for your veterinarian to provide Rimadyl for dogs, Metacam or Deramaxx to ease pain and stiffness after surgery or from arthritis.

Pet owners can save a significant amount of money by purchasing pet supplies, supplements and medicines online. Initially, many vets were reluctant to transfer prescriptions for owners wanting to buy pet meds elsewhere. This was mainly due to a fear that the medicine received would not be the quality intended or might be a cheaper imitation that could potentially harm the pet.

Buying pet meds online is now a widely accepted practice. Sites that sell discounted pet medicines now offer to call your veterinarian to obtain your prescription or provide a number for you to fax the prescription to the site administrator. With a few basic precautions, pet owners can feel safe ordering pet meds online. The tips below will ensure you receive the exact medicine your pet needs from a seller you can trust.

Visit your veterinarian

Clearly, if you need prescriptive meds for your dog or cat, you need a checkup and diagnosis before purchasing meds. However, even some non-prescriptive supplements can have side effects so it's wise to ask your vet's advice before adding those to your pet's diet.

Don't be embarrassed to tell your vet that you will be buying pet meds online. This is a common practice today and saving money is nothing to apologize for. Once he realizes you are carefully budgeting pet costs, your veterinarian may offer alternative or generic medications that can be substituted for high cost brands. It's definitely worth asking about during your visit. Many sites offering discount pet meds carry both brand and generic versions.

Remember that your veterinarian is the expert on your pet's health. Follow his pet med recommendations. Asking for a prescription for heartworm prevention medication without testing for heartworm or requesting a prescription for pain relief before your vet diagnoses the cause of the pain is not a safe way to medicate your dog.

Coordinate the transfer of your pet's prescriptions to the online site.

It is possible that once he understands your need to buy online to save money, your vet may offer to match the online price for the medication. If not, he may be willing to call the prescription in to the site or may give you a name of someone in his office for the website to contact to get the prescription. Many vets will be willing to fax the prescription to the online site for you as well.

Choose an online pet medication site carefully

You cannot safely choose a pet meds provider based only on pricing. Not all pet meds sold online are the real product as the industry has many cheaply imported fakes and outdated products in circulation.

Your best choice is a site that is connected to a practicing veterinarian. When you choose a site owned and operated by a licensed veterinarian, you can be assured the products you buy are exactly what your vet prescribed for your dog or cat.

Provide dog pain relief after surgery and effective dog arthritis treatment with Rimadyl for dogs, Metacam or Dermaxx. Buy pet meds online at discount prices from a practicing veterinarian at http://www.petscriptsdirect.com.