Guardian of Hearts: Navigating Heartworm Awareness Month in Your Veterinary Practice

Guardian of Hearts: Navigating Heartworm Awareness Month in Your Veterinary Practice

Apr 5th 2024

Several myths persist regarding heartworm disease. For example, many owners think of the condition as strictly a Southern issue or believe it only affects outdoor pets.

As a result, many cases fly under the radar. Cat owners rarely consider the disease, and just one-third of dog owners seek heartworm treatment. This attitude compromises a pet's quality of life and can shorten it by years.

As a veterinarian, there are many resources available to help educate your clients about the reality of heartworm disease - from potential infection and disease sources to long-term prevention. With April marking the start of Heartworm Awareness Month, Positive Impressions can help you address the following aspects of heartworm awareness through the care you provide and as part of your overall marketing plan:

What is Heartworm Disease?

Never assume your clients know what heartworm disease is. Educate your clients with verbal and written explanations, take-home pamphlets and access to additional resources:

  • Heartworms - which can grow to a foot or longer in size - affect dogs, cats, ferrets and other mammals. These parasites breed and may spread to other parts of the body, including the blood vessels and lungs. They may be responsible for heart failure, liver disease and other life-threatening conditions affecting your pet's organs.
  • While mosquitos spread heartworms, pets may pick them up from wild animals that frequent backyards, including coyotes, raccoons and foxes.
  • Health issues may persist even after your pet receives treatment. Identifying and addressing heartworms as early as possible helps lower these risks.
  • Not all heartworm medications are the same. Pills administered to a dog won't have the same protective effect on cats, for example.

Increase Public Awareness About Heartworm Disease

When veterinary marketing ideas for Heartworm Awareness Month, think beyond the physical walls of your practice. Many practices schedule a campaign that calls attention to where and how this condition can be picked up, starting with their social channels and often holding community events.

Consider the following points when developing your awareness campaign:

  • Make sure to time your campaign and events with mosquito season - when risks for heartworm disease increase.
  • Aim to educate your clients and audience about where pets can get exposed to heartworms. Unfortunately, many associate this disease with warmer, more humid climates and assume their pets aren't affected.
  • Highlight that pets don't need to spend significant time outdoors to develop heartworm- any mosquito entering their home puts their pets at risk.
  • Emphasize that heartworms mature slowly and can live and produce inside a dog, cat or other pet for several years. Year-round heartworm prevention helps lower these concerning risks.
  • Make sure your clients know how to identify heartworms as a possible concern in their pets. Generally, symptoms resemble a mix of coughing, fatigue, a lack of appetite, weight loss and sluggishness.

Highlight Specific Heartworm Treatments

Make it clear what course of action your clients need to take:

  • Especially if your client lives near a pond, lake or other groundwater source, steer them toward year-round heartworm medication use.
  • Let them know about imaging and blood tests to identify the presence of heartworms.
  • Enforce the importance of sticking with a monthly heartworm prevention regimen, which often includes oral medication and occasional vet visits.

Plan for Heartworm Awareness Month With Positive Impressions

As you plan events and print brochures, turn to our team for various promotional pet products. Order bags and labels for sending clients home with heartworm medication, as well as reminder cards to jog their memory about an upcoming visit. Have various branded items on hand to reward your clients for sticking with a heartworm prevention regimen for at least a year.

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