Otitis externa is an important segment of dermatology, and something that veterinarians see every day in their practice. In fact, ear infections are the most common insurance claim for dogs, according to VPI Pet Insurance. These painful and sometimes chronic infections can be caused by many factors: certain breeds are predisposed, others develop primary infections and others end up with infections due to perpetuating factors (foreign objects in the ear, for example). Some dogs may present with a combination of all these factors.
Since your customers are likely to see many ear infections throughout the day, as well as the different causes, they need the best tools and products to effectively manage these challenging cases.
As a distributor representative, you can offer a variety of modern solutions, materials and even protocols to help practice teams identify more cases and offer highly successful treatment methods.
First, let's consider the challenges veterinarians have when it comes to canine otitis.
- Diagnostics are important in targeting the appropriate condition especially in dogs with recurrence and pets resistant to “first-line” treatment. The veterinarian must identify predisposing and/or primary factors, which can be tricky. In addition, the veterinarian needs to identify any perpetuating factors. Many dogs end up with chronic otitis because a standard "one size fits all" treatment was applied and the root cause for otitis was not properly searched.
- Treatment must be handled in conjunction with the pet owner. You can provide the clinic with support materials (videos, pet owner brochures, and proper treatment techniques) to assist with pet owner compliance. You can also help your customers educate pet owners about the prevention of otitis and the management of allergies.
- To make sure clients comply with treatment and follow up, veterinarians need to set realistic expectations about longevity of each condition whether it be lifelong, long-term or ‘curable.’
The best approach to help practices manage all this and serve local pet owners in the best way is to have a clear canine otitis protocol covering diagnoses, the best cleaning and treatment techniques for different types of infections, and client communication.
Your role can be extremely valuable in presenting the many products available today, educating your customers on which products are best to use when, and providing client education materials and other support created by product manufacturers.
Here's how to get the ball rolling on a canine otitis sales program.
- Start by asking about the frequency of ear infections in the clinic. The answer is usually "high." Ask what the clinic currently uses to address these infections and if they have clear and specific protocols using modern tools and techniques.
- Introduce products that will fill any needs or gaps or issues you identify, such as products for chronic yeast-infected ears, for acute inflammatory infections, for recurrent infections in allergic dogs, etc.
- Work with manufacturer sales reps that specialize in canine otitis products and who provide the best education on the product or portfolio you intend to introduce.
- Look into programs that support your sales efforts with new clinics, specialty practices and hospitals that could use an update in their methods.
- Provide CE or in-clinic education to bring veterinarians and staff members up to speed on new products. Introduce practices to other helpful resources such as those offered through the ACVD (American College of Veterinary Dermatology), professional guidelines (AAHA has great guidelines), and attending meetings where dermatologists speak about canine otitis. Also check the Vet-Advantage Resource app (and Vet-Advantage Resource web version) for AAHA Guidelines and other Practice Resources.
- You may also want to recommend that clinics view ear infections as an integral part of the dermatological management of patients. Dogs rarely have an isolated ear infection without another underlying derm condition. An ear infection may just be the tip of iceberg and will never clear until the root cause is addressed.
In summary, follow a needs-based approach when discussing canine otitis products, focusing on the best products, materials and protocols for each clinic's situation. After the clinic has had success with your suggested products, introduce other products to expand or enhance the clinic's capabilities.