Preventative heartworm medication is part of a monthly routine for many dog owners.
"What that does is kill the tiny little microfilaria that get injected into them by a mosquito," said Dr. Brian Broekman, associate veterinarian with Packerland Veterinary Center. "That's how heartworm is transmitted from dog to dog."
While it is important, some pet owners dread the monthly expense of Heartgard Plus.
"They're trying to save a buck or two, and if they can do that online, great," said Broekman. "But, sometimes it can be a problem."
The problem comes with products like Hguard circulating on the internet appealing to pet owners with a promise of Heartgard Plus level protection at a fraction of the cost.
"The dangers of shopping online is that really don't know who you're dealing with," said Susan Bach, regional director with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Wisconsin. "So, there's the danger that medication could be expired, it could be diluted, or it could be just plain fake."
Packerland Veterinary Center in Green Bay posted a warning on Facebook. It includes a screenshot of the Hguard product for sale on Amazon with a box that closely resembles that of Heartguard Plus; however, side-by-side it is easier to spot the real from the fake through a comparison of text and symbols.
"That's why we recommend buying from your veterinarian or local businesses or things so that way we don't have to worry about fakes and these alternatives online that we know nothing about," said Broekman.
Heartguard Plus is regulated by the FDA and requires a prescription to purchase.
"Other countries have different standards when it comes to medication," said Bach.
Hguard products are no longer listed on the Amazon website.
Bach urges pet owners to consult a veterinarian before buying medication online: "Not all of the sellers on Amazon are bad. There are good sellers and there are bad sellers, so you have to have a way to tell the difference."