It can be a challenge to get clients to bring their pets in once a year for a nose-to-tail exam, and it’s even harder to get them to look at health care beyond emergencies and heartworm treatments. However, the health problems a pet experiences shifts as it ages. What steps can you take to make it easier for clients to understand the changing health care needs of their pets through their lives?
How Old is the Pet?
Most owners have limited knowledge about how aging works in their furry friends. They may have heard that a dog year is the same as 7 human years, or that small breed dogs live longer than large breed dogs. They may know cats that lived into their 20s, but they don’t realize that these pets were furry senior citizens for over half of their lives.
Most pet health organizations, including the American Animal Hospital Association, define the lifespan of pets in stages, not chronological age. This can vary a lot between species and breeds, which can be confusing for pet owners.
When it comes to medically classifying humans by age, they are usually divided into 5 main categories:
Youth - Under 18 years old
Young adult - 18 to 35 years old
Adult - 36 to 55 years old
Senior - 56 years old or older
Geriatric - Any person experiencing frailty related to age
Relating their pet’s development and aging to these stages make health care easier to understand. For example, a medium-sized dog generally goes through the youth stage in the first year, and half of the young adult stage in the second year. After that, they age about 5 times faster than a human. Keeping track in “dog years” is complicated with so many time changes, but it’s easy to relate stages between the animal and a human.
Building a Plan
Starting with stages, more details can be added, based on the probable health problems they will encounter. For example, we know that the first signs of osteoarthritis can show up in the adult stage of a dog’s life, even if the symptoms don’t become a major problem until the senior stage. Likewise, we know cats start to have aging-related muscle and bone issues around the age of 8, even though they often live twice as long. Here’s an example of the areas you and your client may want to focus on for a health plan.
- Basic home health and dental care skills
- Vaccinations, parasite prevention and tests for genetic diseases
- Pet safety and training, including avoidance of toxic foods and substances
- Behavior training
- Changes in nutritional needs
- Solving lingering behavioral and health problems
- Weight management
- Orthopedic issues
- Cognitive issues
- Orthopedic issues and accommodation
- Pain management
- Cognitive issues
We Can Help You Get Clients On Board with Regular Health Care
Sometimes, even the most well-meaning owner just needs a reminder to keep their pet’s health on track. Positive Impressions, LLC can help you stay on client’s minds. We carry a wide range of promotional products to help keep your practice on the minds of clients, including appointment reminders, promotional items, magnetic business cards and pet-themed bags. We also offer custom printing for most of the items we offer, so you can add your contact information to reminder cards, or create a complete design that perfectly fits your practice. To see how we can help you promote your business, visit our website or check out our specials on our Facebook page.