As you may have discovered during clinic visits, a large number of veterinary teams still believe that pet owners aren't interested in discussing parasite prevention. They WISH more clients would wake up and follow recommendations such as screening, vaccination and monthly prevention. But in their experience, the message is not reaching pet owners. A frustrating situation, to say the least.
However, according to a 2015 survey conducted by CAPC (the Companion Animal Parasite Council), "90% of pet owners want to be notified if there is a high incidence of parasites in their county." And, "74% of pet owners want their veterinarians to provide information about tests to detect parasites."
Wow, who knew? Pet owners actually DO want information and help to protect their pets against parasites.
Clearly there's work to be done to close the big gap between peception and reality for your customers.
So let's help practices bridge that gap and make 2016 the year of Parasite Prevention Power.
First, see if practices know about all the resources they can use to educate clients, such as:
- CAPC's arsenal of LOCAL parasite prevalence maps and tools that help practices alert clients. For instance, a Jacksonville veterinary practice can email an alert (using CAPC maps) that 1 in 54 tested Duval County dogs were positive for heartworm disease (reported results). CAPC provides a wealth of helpful materials that help practices use these local maps, updated monthly, to spur prevention conversations and compliance. Visit CAPC to learn more.
- The American Heartworm Society's "Think 12" materials provide education on the fact that heartworm prevention is a 12-month effort. Practices are invited to use the Think 12 videos, posters, fact sheets and more to help boost client awareness.
- Parasite-related product manufacturers also offer a breadth of helpful tools for awareness and compliance. Check with product manufacturers to make sure you have the latest materials.
Make a point to talk with the ENTIRE PRACTICE TEAM about these resources… especially vet techs, who are on the front lines with clients every day. Provide Lunch 'n Learn presentations to help techs understand how to talk about parasites and prevention. Make sure they's comfortable and confident about approaching pet owners on the subject. Get the, excited about "Parasite Prevention Power" and perhaps even make it a competition or rewarding game for them. Get creative!
Also, talk with practices about their protocols. Is the practice fully stocked with screening tests, vaccines, monthly preventatives and other needs? In addition, are they up-to-date on any product manufacturer coupons or discounts they can offer clients this year? Help make sure they're fully prepared to manage a busy season and grow compliance.
Finally, talk with your customers about promoting local prevalence updates and patient success stories on their websites, in email, on social media, in newsletters and in other client-communication approaches. For instance, they could feature a pup that came in coughing and reluctant to eat or exercise… and how the dog was diagnosed with a hidden heartworm infection. Then they could describe how the team treated the dog and now it’s living a healthy, happy life. (Healthy "after" photos are especially powerful for this.)
When you present these helpful tools and resources to practices, you can help them pull through their parasiticide purchases and even better, help more patients avoid infections (or worse).
As you prepare for the big spring parasite season, try these tips to help practices make this the year of Parasite Prevention Power. Imagine the good you'll do for pets in your region.