How to LEGALLY Sell Pet Meds Online - DirectPayNet

How to LEGALLY Sell Pet Meds Online


The online pet pharmacy market in the United States is experiencing significant growth, driven by the increasing number of pet owners seeking convenient and affordable ways to access medications and health products for their furry friends.

According to a recent report, the global online pet pharmacy market is expected to reach $13.6 billion by 2027, with the United States being one of the leading contributors to this growth.

As more pet owners turn to online solutions for their pet’s health and healthcare needs, entrepreneurs and retailers are recognizing the potential of operating an online pet pharmacy. However, navigating the legal requirements and implementing best practices for success can be challenging without proper guidance.

What You Can Sell on an Online Pet Pharmacy

Online veterinary pharmacies can sell nearly anything related to pets, including non-medicines like food and toys. Let’s break down what that looks like.

Meds That Don’t Require a Vet Prescription

The biggest hurdle you’ll face is getting requests from customers for meds without a veterinary hospital’s prescription. Though not all pet medications require it, you should be aware of the types of meds that do and don’t require a certified veterinary practice’s prescription. Here are the general categories of pet meds that don’t require a prescription.

  • Herbal supplements or homeopathic mixtures
  • Drugs that fight off parasites
  • Steroid-based anti-inflammatory drugs

Meds That Do Require a Vet Prescription

Basically, any other type of pet med will require a certified vet’s prescription. This includes:

  • Vaccines
  • Liquid injections or drips
  • Creams and ointments
  • Antibiotics
  • Food additives

It is good practice to consult with an vet before attempting to sell pet prescription drugs to avoid any legal trouble. You might be surprised at what can be sold over the counter (OTC) or by prescription, so it’s best not to take any risk.

Also to note: some drugs simply cannot be sold online. If you find that a lot of your customers are seeking a particular prescription medicine that you can’t sell, you could test the waters with linking to a certified vet and strike a contract that details your commission for bringing them clients (basically, affiliate marketing).


Online pet pharmacies often sell other pet products. You are by no means required to sell non-medicines on your storefront, but it might be a good idea to sell a selection of goods to appeal even more to pet owners.

These can range from pet foods, chews, and treats to toys and grooming products or even medical devices.

DirectPayNet is the pet meds partner you need.

Benefits of Running an Online Pet Pharmacy

Operating an online pet pharmacy offers numerous advantages for entrepreneurs and businesses looking to enter the growing pet healthcare market. Some of the key benefits include:

  1. Convenience for pet owners: Online pet pharmacies provide a convenient way for pet owners to access medications and health products for their pets without having to visit a physical store. This is particularly beneficial for those with busy schedules, limited mobility, or living in remote areas.
  2. Potential for significant revenue: With the increasing demand for online pet healthcare solutions, running an internet pharmacy can be a lucrative business opportunity. The global online pet pharmacy market is expected to experience substantial growth in the coming years, providing a strong potential for revenue generation.
  3. Ability to reach a wide customer base: An online pet pharmacy allows you to reach pet owners across the country, expanding your potential customer base far beyond the limitations of a physical store. This broader reach can help you scale your business more quickly and efficiently.
  4. Flexibility in product offerings: Online pet pharmacies have the flexibility to offer a wide range of prescription and non-prescription pet products, including medications, supplements, and health supplies. This allows you to cater to the diverse needs of pet owners and increase your revenue potential.
  5. Lower overhead costs: Compared to operating a physical pet pharmacy, running an online business often involves lower overhead costs. You can save on expenses such as rent, utilities, and in-store staff, allowing you to allocate more resources to other areas of your business, such as marketing and customer service.
  6. Opportunity for automation: Online pet pharmacies can benefit from automated functionality that streamline processes such as inventory management, online order processing, and shipping. This automation can help you operate more efficiently, reduce errors, and improve the overall customer experience.

Success starts with the right payment processor.

Legal Requirements for Operating an Online Pet Pharmacy

To legally operate an online pet pharmacy in the United States, there are several important requirements that must be met. These requirements ensure the safety and well-being of the animals receiving medications and protect consumers from potential harm. Here are the key legal considerations:

  1. Obtaining necessary licenses and permits: Online pet pharmacies must obtain the appropriate licenses and permits required by their state’s pharmacy board. This typically involves completing an application, paying fees, and meeting specific qualifications, such as having a licensed pharmacist on staff.
  2. Establishing a Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR): A VCPR is a legal requirement that must be established before a veterinarian can prescribe medications. This relationship ensures that the veterinarian has examined the animal, made a diagnosis, and determined that the prescribed medication is appropriate. In some states, a VCPR can be established online, while others require an in-person examination.
  3. Ensuring compliance with state regulations: Each state has its own set of regulations governing the operation of online pet pharmacies. These regulations may include requirements for record-keeping, prescription verification, and the types of medications that can be dispensed. It’s crucial to research and comply with the specific regulations in the state(s) where the online pet pharmacy operates.
  4. Proper handling of prescription medications: Online pet pharmacies must ensure that prescription medications are dispensed only with a valid prescription from a licensed veterinarian. The pharmacy must also keep accurate records of all prescriptions filled, including the veterinarian’s license number, prescription number, and a copy of the prescription.
  5. Working with licensed veterinarians or pharmacies to fill prescriptions: Online pet pharmacies must either employ licensed veterinarians to fill prescriptions or partner with licensed pharmacies to dispense medications. This ensures that the medications are properly handled, stored, and shipped to customers.
  6. Compliance with FDA regulations: While the FDA does not directly regulate online pet pharmacies, it does regulate the drugs and devices used in veterinary medicine. Online pet pharmacies must ensure that the medications they dispense are FDA-approved and comply with all relevant FDA regulations.

Don’t let your business crumble due to non-compliance.

Best Practices for Success

Running a successful online pet pharmacy requires more than just meeting legal requirements. Implementing best practices can help you attract and retain customers, streamline operations, and grow your business. Here are some key best practices to consider:

  1. Offering a wide variety of prescription and non-prescription pet products: Provide a comprehensive selection of medications, supplements, and health supplies to cater to the diverse needs of pet owners. This can help you attract a larger customer base and increase revenue potential.
  2. Providing fast shipping options, including autoship: Offer fast and reliable shipping options to ensure that customers receive their pet’s medications in a timely manner. Consider implementing an autoship program that allows customers to schedule recurring deliveries of their pet’s medications, providing added convenience and ensuring uninterrupted treatment.
  3. Ensuring a user-friendly website with easy navigation: Create a website that is easy to navigate, visually appealing, and informative. Clearly display product information, pricing, and shipping details to help customers make informed decisions. Ensure that the checkout process is simple and secure to minimize cart abandonment and build trust with customers.
  4. Offering competitive pricing and discounts: Research competitors’ pricing and offer competitive rates to attract and retain customers. Consider implementing loyalty programs, discounts for first-time customers, or bulk purchase discounts to incentivize repeat business and increase customer loyalty.
  5. Providing excellent customer service: Prioritize customer service by offering multiple channels for support, such as phone, email, and live chat. Train your staff to be knowledgeable, friendly, and responsive to customer inquiries and concerns. Promptly address any issues or complaints to maintain customer satisfaction and build a positive reputation.
  6. Investing in targeted marketing and advertising: Develop a targeted marketing strategy to reach potential customers and build brand awareness. This may include search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, social media marketing, and email campaigns. Focus on highlighting the convenience, competitive pricing, and wide selection of products offered by your online pet pharmacy.
  7. Preventing the misuse of pet medications: Some consumers may attempt to purchase pet medicine for their own use, which is illegal and dangerous. To prevent this, always require a signed prescription from a licensed veterinarian for any prescription medications sold. Include a checkbox during the purchasing process that requires customers to acknowledge that the products are intended for pets only and are not for human consumption. This helps protect your business from liability and ensures the safe and responsible use of pet medications.

Have you considered how you’ll accept payments?

Challenges and Considerations

While operating an online pet pharmacy can be a rewarding and profitable venture, there are several challenges and considerations to keep in mind. Addressing these issues proactively can help you avoid potential pitfalls and ensure the smooth operation of your business.

  1. Navigating varying state regulations: Each state has its own set of regulations governing the operation of online pet pharmacies. These regulations can vary significantly, making it challenging to ensure compliance when serving customers across multiple states. It’s essential to research and stay up-to-date with the specific requirements in each state where you plan to operate, as failure to comply can result in legal consequences and damage to your reputation.
  2. Ensuring proper storage and handling of medications: Pet medications often require specific storage conditions to maintain their potency and safety. Online pet pharmacies must invest in appropriate storage facilities and implement strict protocols for handling medications. This includes maintaining proper temperature control, humidity levels, and security measures to prevent theft or tampering. Failure to store and handle medications properly can lead to decreased effectiveness, health risks for pets, and potential legal liabilities.
  3. Managing inventory and supplier relationships: Efficiently managing inventory is crucial for online pet pharmacies to ensure that products are available when customers need them. This involves accurately forecasting demand, monitoring stock levels, and maintaining strong relationships with reliable suppliers. Balancing the need to have sufficient inventory on hand while minimizing the risk of overstocking and expiration can be challenging, but it’s essential for maintaining customer satisfaction and controlling costs.
  4. Dealing with potential legal issues or customer complaints: Despite best efforts, online pet pharmacies may face legal issues or customer complaints from time to time. These can arise from issues such as medication errors, shipping delays, or customer misuse of products. It’s important to have clear policies and procedures in place for handling these situations, including protocols for investigating complaints, communicating with customers, and taking corrective action when necessary. Consulting with legal professionals and having liability insurance can help protect your business in the event of legal challenges.
  5. Staying competitive in a growing market: As the online pet pharmacy market continues to grow, competition is likely to increase. To stay competitive, businesses must continually monitor market trends, adjust pricing strategies, and invest in marketing and customer acquisition efforts. This may involve expanding product offerings, implementing loyalty programs, or exploring partnerships with veterinarians or pet-related businesses to reach new customers and differentiate your brand.
  6. Protecting customer data and ensuring cybersecurity: Online pet pharmacies handle sensitive customer information, including personal details and prescription data. Ensuring the security of this information is critical to maintaining customer trust and complying with data protection regulations. Implementing robust cybersecurity measures, such as encryption, secure payment processing, and regular security audits, can help safeguard customer data and protect your business from potential breaches or cyber attacks.

By anticipating and proactively addressing these challenges and considerations, online pet pharmacies can position themselves for long-term success in a competitive and evolving market. Staying informed, adaptable, and committed to providing high-quality products and services will be key to thriving in this growing industry.


About the author

As President of DirectPayNet, I make it my mission to help merchants find the best payment solutions for their online business, especially if they are categorized as high-risk merchants. I help setup localized payments modes and have tons of other tricks to increase sales! Prior to starting DirectPayNet, I was a Director at MANSEF Inc. (now known as MindGeek), where I led a team dedicated to managing merchant accounts for hundreds of product lines as well as customer service and secondary revenue sources. I am an avid traveler, conference speaker and love to attend any event that allows me to learn about technology. I am fascinated by anything related to digital currency especially Bitcoin and the Blockchain.