Senior Wellness

By Meghan E. Burns, DVM, Connect Veterinary Consulting
October, 2017
Help remind your veterinary customers of the value of incorporating wellness for senior pets into their daily practice

Dental care, nutrition, weight management, and preventative care are all major foci as pets age. The 2017 Banfield State of Pet Health report found that 1 in 3 pets are overweight. We all know that carrying extra weight around makes our pets more prone to joint disease like osteoarthritis and medical conditions like diabetes. But why should the average pet owner and veterinarian care? The report also found that over a four-year period, owners of overweight dogs spent 17 percent more on their dog’s medical care than owners of their healthy weight counterparts1. Cat owners spent 36 percent more on diagnostic procedures than did owners of slimmer felines1.

We all want our pets to age with the same grace and ease as we would like for ourselves. Often times pet owners aren’t aware of subtle changes in behavior and what they could mean for their furry companion medically. So how do we help pet parents and our customers take the guess work out of aging?

This all points to changing the prevalent thought in veterinary medicine from reactive to preventive care. Providing solutions for pet owners to bring their pets into the clinic more often for routine screening and diagnostics especially as they age is increasingly important to extending the quality of our pets’ lives and good business sense for the practice.

The value of wellness plans
Targeted senior wellness plans may be one solution for your clients. These programs can be run internally to the practice or managed externally depending on what works most effectively for your customer’s clinic. Helping your clients to implement these programs in their clinic will not only help to increase their revenue but also to increase the vet-client relationship.

The entire veterinary team needs to focus on the value the pet owner will obtain from enrolling their pet into a senior wellness program. One option would be to include exam fees as part of the wellness program monthly cost so that the pet owner isn’t afraid to bring their pet in when they notice something that they are unsure of whether is or isn’t part of a larger issue. Easing the burden and deferring the cost to monthly payments can help to decrease sticker shock and increase client visits to identify medically relevant symptoms sooner. When your customers have the opportunity to guide a client through a treatment for a medical condition they diagnosed early, they will have that client for life. This strengthens the bond with that client so they feel comfortable continuing to bring new pets into the practice and referring their friends thus deepening your customer’s reach within the community and strengthening the foundation of the practice.

Just like with any new program being implemented, its success is dependent on the buy-in from the entire clinic staff. We need to remind the veterinarian that this is a team effort, from the receptionist to the technical staff. Everyone needs to be talking about disease prevention and the benefits to screening for and identifying potential medical issues before they are major problems requiring extensive medical care.

Consistently repeating the same message to the appropriate clientele will eventually help to raise compliance and help them to see the veterinary team as a partner in managing their pet’s health. This persistent messaging should be repeated year-round. Thus, we create a habit among veterinarians and their clients, so that preventative care is not something the pet owner has to do but is rather a way of life for both the pet owner and their pets.  

 

1 “2017 State of Pet Health Report”. https://www.banfield.com/state-of-pet-health. Banfield Pet Hospitals. Web 15 August 2017.

Topics: Trends, Senior Care

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