Let the buyer beware Print E-mail
News - Rubrieke
Monday, 20 May 2019 10:00
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Dr Liesel van der Merwe is a small animal medicine specialist. Send her your questions: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Dr Liesel van der Merwe

Some veterinary products are available through a co-op. This is because they are registered as an Act 36 product, which classifies them as agricultural. Vaccines fall under this umbrella.

On one hand this is not a bad thing, as people who cannot afford to pay for a veterinary consultation can still afford to buy vaccines and vaccinate their pets. However, this over-the-counter sale of these products does not always come with advice from a properly trained person. 

Something that is important with vaccinations is that the cold chain is maintained. Vaccinations are easily damaged and inactivated, which makes them ineffective. They need to be properly injected and at the correct intervals.

There are low cost and free community clinics, manned by newly qualified veterinarians who are completing their community service year, which can vaccinate for a nominal fee for those people who have severe financial restrictions.

Vaccinations which are not given by a veterinarian are not considered legal and if people want to emigrate or place their pets into kennels, then these vaccinations will have to be repeated to conform to legal requirements.

Part of a vaccination fee at a veterinarian includes a general check-up and examination of the patient. In puppies we consider general health and nutritional issues as well as evaluate for congenital problems.

As dogs get older we look for signs of chronic low-grade illnesses and early signs of disease processes. If you feel that you are not getting value for money at your annual vaccination, then tell your vet, or prepare some questions about any concerns you have over your pet. Often we do evaluate the animal completely. We just do it quickly while we are talking to you and if we find nothing wrong, then we don’t talk about it.

Additionally, these co-operatives will often sell decanted repackaged products, which they are allowed to do as their registration is different to that of a veterinarian. According to medical regulations, veterinarians are not allowed to repackage products into smaller volumes and place these products on the shelf. 

It is, however, illegal to sell a dip or medication without listing the active ingredients and concentration. Just recently I was presented with a case where poisoning was suspected after a dip had been applied.

The product had the co-ops generic name on the label, but no indication of the active ingredient, which makes it difficult to decide what to do.

Although it is the seller’s responsibility to label products properly and give advice regarding transport and storage requirements, you as client can also be a little more active in the process and ask what is in the product, check the label, ask about side effects and ascertain if the person you are buying from or speaking to is qualified.

Are they veterinarians or qualified para-veterinarian? Are they sales staff – who can also be very well informed about the products they sell – or not?

So “buyer beware” and “you get what you pay for” apply. Products don’t just work. They work when they are used correctly. Treatment failure of many of these over-the-counter products is often because of incorrect application, dose amount and / or frequency.


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