dvm - January 2013 - (Page 40)
COMMUNITY | Commentary
Overcoming the barriers
eartworm has been diagnosed in all 50 states, so regardless of where in the country you practice veterinary medicine, heartworm disease poses a threat to your patients. Te specifc challenges you face in convincing clients to protect their pets from heartworm may be different, however, from those of the practitioner who practices on the other side of the country—or even the other side of town. Weather, parasite incidence, client knowledge and client income all play important roles. Following are four stories about heartworm compliance from
to heartworm prevention
See how four veterinarians from across the country achieve year-round compliance.
practitioners who, like you, face challenges. Teir solutions and approaches to these challenges demonstrate that compliance can be signifcantly improved and that patients and clients will beneft.
Lynn F. Buzhardt, DVM
Co-owner, The Animal Center West, Zachary, La.
Buzhardt lives and practices in southeast-
ern Louisiana, a.k.a. Heartworm Central. Unfortunately, living in a known heartwormendemic area is no guarantee of heartworm compliance, thanks to misperceptions clients hold about the disease and its prevention. Te frst misperception is that, while clients understand that mosquitoes transmit heartworm disease, they assume that only outdoor pets are at risk. Another problem is that clients read the prescription label on the preventive but have diferent ideas about what “monthly” means.
Finally, pet owners don’t realize that heartworm prevention can save them money—as well as pets’ lives. According to Buzhardt, it sometimes helps to talk about the monetary benefts as well as the medical benefts of heartworm prevention. Te Animal Center West plays it by the numbers. Te veterinarians and staf follow a “Rule of Tree” to educate clients about heartworm disease. Te goal: to deliver the following three-point message three times by three team members. 1. Heartworms are a real danger. Heartworms pose a serious threat to dogs’ and cats’ health and are transmitted by mosquitoes.
2. Heartworm disease is hard to treat.
expensive to treat in dogs and there is no approved treatment for cats.
3. Heartworms are easy to prevent.
A heartworm infestation is difcult and
Heartworm preventives are efective and easy to administer to pets. At Buzhardt’s practice, the receptionist is the frst to introduce the message by handing out written materials when a client checks in. Te technician is the next messenger, repeating the three messages in the quiet learning environment of the exam room while taking a blood sample for the requisite heartworm test. Finally, the veterinarian validates the messages when prescribing or injecting the preventive medication. Buzhardt believes that consistency and repetition are key to communicating with clients.
Robert Stannard, DVM
Owner, Adobe Pet Hospital, Livermore, Calif.
Even in parts of the country where the risk of heartworm disease is considered low, prevention
is important. “I admit that prior to 2004, I didn’t think there was a heartworm risk in northern California,” says Stannard. Tat belief was challenged when Stannard attended a continuing education presentation on zoonotic intestinal parasites. During the seminar, Stannard learned that diseases such as ocular larval migrans and neural larval migrans are more common in humans than most pet owners realize. Te magnitude of this risk was reinforced dra-
matically for Stannard when a practitioner in southern California lost his practice and his home in a settlement over a case in which a child went blind. At that point, Stannard was even more determined to safeguard his patients and clients against intestinal parasites by recommending year-round prevention. Getting protection from heartworm disease seemed like an added, but largely unneeded, bonus. Tis belief was about to change. Implementing recommendations for protection against internal parasites required Adobe Pet Hospital to add heartworm testing to its junior and senior wellness blood panels to start all canine and feline patients on monthly medications. To his surprise, 16 cats—includ-
ing 10 strictly indoor cats—and three dogs tested positive in the frst year alone. Today Stannard’s clients learn that there are two important reasons for providing yearround protection for pets against heartworms and intestinal parasites.
1. Heartworms are serious but preventable. Heartworm disease can be devastating,
but it’s easy to prevent it.
2. Parasites impact pets and people.
Preventing intestinal parasites in cats and dogs also prevents people from contracting potentially serious diseases. When asked how this approach is working, Stannard replies, “Over and over again, clients thank us for protecting their precious pets and their family members as well.”
40 | January 2013 |
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of dvm - January 2013
dvm - January 2013
Where did I go wrong?
Pets and Vets
CATalyst survey examines how veterinarians really feel about animal shelters and pet rescue organizations.
What’s new? What’s now?
Employee steals more than $400,000 from clinic
Longtime veterinarian killed in plane crash in California
Canadian SPCA concerned by number of “home neutering” reports
Arrest made in Minnesota veterinary hospital arson
Washington DVM accused of abusing patients, medications
When faced with disaster, practices need a plan
University of Minnesota celebrates 750,000th urolith
Death to debt
Letter of the law
dvm - January 2013