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Preventative health care is just as important for pets as it is
for humans, but it can be hard to get your clients on board for adding the
expense and inconvenience of check-up visits when their pets seem healthy.
Between 2001 and 2014, the AVMA estimates dog vet visits dropped by 21% and cat
visits by 30%, making this a serious problem for our industry and the animals
we care for. What can you do to convince your patient’s owners that these
visits are worthwhile and keep them on track for a healthier life?
What is a Check-Up Visit?
Most clients don’t understand what’s involved in a check-up visit, which can make the cost hard to swallow. Whether you’re encouraging a client to schedule a visit in person or through your marketing materials, outline what you’ll do and what issues you’ll be looking for. A regular checkup may include monitoring vital signs and checking basic health indicators like gate and gum health, as well as vaccine boosters, a heartworm test and a fecal exam. If the animal is older, you might add blood work, urinalysis and X-rays. Dental cleaning may also be needed, as well as breed-specific services.
A Shift from Vaccinations to Physical Exams
In the past, most clinics promoted yearly vaccinations as the primary reason for preventative medicine, giving clients a clear, relatable motivation. However, vaccinations last longer than originally thought, so there’s no reason to give boosters every year.
Today, there are three increasingly common health problems that clients can easily relate to preventative care: pet obesity and dental diseases are on the rise, while only a little over half of dogs are on heartworm medication. By addressing these issues, clients will save money in the long term while giving their pets a longer, happier life.
Consider Offering a Preventative Care Plan
Clients may be hesitant to drop a couple hundred dollars on pet care for an animal that seems healthy, and even more hesitant about adding tests and care they weren’t planning on. You can take some of the financial sting out of these visits by spreading out fees as part of a monthly payment system. This makes care easy to afford and encourages clients to bring their pets in since they’re already paying for services. Consider these approaches when creating your plan:
- Break up plans into different life stages, such as pediatric, adult and senior/geriatric care.
- Have add-ons for pet or breed-specific care.
- Offer a tiered plan that lets owners select a level of care from basic checkups to advanced preventative care and extras like grooming and dental work.
Be Cat Friendly
40% of cat owners say they get stressed just thinking about bringing their pet into the vet’s office. That’s a major hurdle when trying to get these patients in for medical care that may not seem absolutely necessary.
To deal with this problem, the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the International Society for Feline Medicine have come together to create the Cat Friendly Practice certification. This program looks at everything from waiting room setup to care procedures to take the stress off cats and their owners. Certification doesn’t just make visits easier, it gives you one more way to promote your clinic to cat-owning customers.
Build a Care Plan with Your Clients
If you take the time to explain to your clients what you’re looking for and why it’s needed, they’re more likely to keep up with checkups and they may remember behavior and other useful information that will help you make a diagnosis. Addressing these questions will help keep the client in the loop and part of the health care process:
- What health issues are you checking up on?
- How does each test show the overall health of the animal?
- What are you looking at when you do a physical examination?
- What should the client and the vet look for that could indicate health problems down the line?
- What steps can both the client and vet take to stop common problems with this breed of animal?
We Can Help You Get Your Clients On Board
For 11 years, Positive Impressions, LLC has helped vet clinics and hospitals connect with and stay in touch with their clients by offering a wide range of customizable products including reminder cards, calendars, supply bags, labels and stickers. To see how we can help you keep in touch with clients and promote your clinic, make sure to check out our latest specials and most popular products.