Make a case for senior veterinary care
According to the American Animal Hospital Association, only about 14 percent of senior pets undergo the regular health screenings recommended by their veterinarians. That’s a hard senior statistic to swallow. But the truth is, it can be difficult for veterinarians and their teams to convince clients to bring in their older pets for wellness examinations and preventive diagnostics—especially if the pet seems healthy on the outside.
Dr. Karl Salzsieder, JD, a Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member and owner of Salzsieder Consulting and Legal Services in Longview, Wash., and Yelm Veterinary Hospital in Yelm, Wash., has faced this challenge and finds that wellness plans are one of the keys to getting clients with senior pets in the door.
“With my practice’s wellness plan, clients get a free office visit,” says Dr. Salzsieder. “You just need to get them in—then you can start educating them.”
Dr. Salzsieder recommends having team members call clients with senior pets and explain the importance of bringing in their dog or cat for a complete physical examination. “But don’t overwhelm the client on the phone by talking about all the diagnostic tests you want to run,” he warns. “Keep it simple and just talk about the physical examination.”
Once you’ve got the senior pet in for an examination, that’s the time to discuss obtaining baseline tests—CBC, serum chemistry panel and urinalysis—to assess the pet’s health. And depending on your physical exam findings, more tests may be warranted, says Dr. Salzsieder.
Finally, don’t shy away from citing senior pet statistics or sharing personal experiences if a client seems reluctant to pursue preventive diagnostics, advises Dr. Salzsieder. “Share facts about the incidence of a specific disease in senior pets,” he says. “And if you’ve got an example of a case when a condition was caught early enough to treat, tell them about it. It could make all the difference.”
Head over to dvm360.com/seniorhandout to download a client handout about common clinical signs that pet owners should look for as their pets age.