Vet-Advantage Magazine Blog

Vet-Advantage Blog

How to Raise Heartworm Prevention and Screening Rates

By Vet-Advantage
August, 2015

One of the coolest things about being a distributor sales representative is that you get to make a difference every day. Sure, your mission is sales… but your passion is all about about helping animals. Or helping those who care for animals. In any case, your role can make a big impact on preventing, diagnosing and treating diseases.

Take heartworm, for instance.

Every time you visit a clinic, you have an opportunity to raise prevention, screening and successful treatment for the relentless heartworm epidemic that still plagues pets in our country.  

When you discuss heartworm with practice owners — and you offer ways to help improve prevention compliance and screening methods — you're directly benefiting your customers, their patients and their clients.

Does heartworm really matter in your sales territory? Let's find out.

Predicting the prevalence of heartworm infection in any given locality can be difficult, but the following two trusted and highly useful resources shed a light on incidences across the country. 

Vet Advantage photo: Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) maps show heartworm incidence rates in the U.S., in each state and in each county, updated each month.

  1. The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) is exploring heartworm disease in depth. Take a look at the CAPC website and its associated prevalence maps. Select HEARTWORM and either DOG or CAT, and a map will appear, showing incidence across the country. Click on a specific state to get prevalence data by county. Shown here, in Jefferson County, TX, 1 in 11 dogs tested positive for heartworm (an alarming ratio). This information is updated each month, giving practices a powerful client-education tool.

    Vet Advantage photo: The American Heartworm Society have been gathering veterinary-practice data on heartworm testing every three years… revealing a shocking growth in heartworm disease from 2001-2013.
  2. Next, visit the American Heartworm Society (AHS) website and check out its incidence maps. The AHS gathers veterinary-practice data on heartworm testing every three years… with thousands of veterinary practices and shelters reporting the number of heartworm-positive cases per clinic. You'll be shocked by the spread and growth of heartworm disease positives from 2001-2013 in some areas; maybe even in your territory!


How does this data help you bring up the subject of heartworm prevention, screening and treatment?

Busy practices may appreciate seeing LOCAL proof that heartworm is still a major threat. When you share the CAPC and AHS information, you're providing information to help your customers a) raise awareness with clients, b) boost heartworm prevention and screening rates and c) save more lives as a result.

In addition, you can introduce client-education materials, the latest preventatives and screening solutions, treatment protocols and other information from various heartworm product manufacturers. Ask company reps what they offer to support your communication efforts with veterinary teams.

Try these three steps to bring more attention to heartworm disease.

  1. Encourage veterinarians and their staff members to review the above CAPC and AHS data, for their own counties, to help encourage clients to prevent deadly heartworm disease in their pets.
  1. Recommend that clinics display an erasable board on the lobby counter, noting the number of heartworm cases diagnosed by the clinic and the number reported in the county (and surrounding counties) in 2015 and in the most recent month. CAPC reports that clinics taking this approach, along with the usual education in exam rooms, have seen a steady decrease in heartworm prevalence in their areas by increasing the proportion of dogs and cats on heartworm preventive (thus decreasing the reservoir for potential transmission).
  1. Ask practices what they use now for heartworm preventatives, screening products and other solutions. This may open the door for you to introduce new, more effective options or increase orders for the tools they currently use. Also make sure practices know about any client-education materials provided by product manufacturers as well as CAPC and AHS.

Using these tools and recommendations, you really can make a major difference in heartworm disease.

You may also be interested in this Veterinary Advantage SALES TIP article with specific ideas on discussing heartworm prevention

Topics: Preventatives