Telling the truth about ticks
There is no such thing as a safe tick—they all can carry diseases, says Dr. Matt Eberts, owner of Lakeland Veterinary Hospital in Baxter, Minn. That’s why it’s vital to explain the importance of tick-control products to your clients. However, you can’t help your clients before you’ve done your research. “Veterinarians need to be experts on what’s going on in their backyards,” Dr. Eberts says. “If they aren’t, they need to do research.” He suggests keeping informational pamphlets, specific to the ticks in your region, in your practice’s waiting room. Or hand a pamphlet to your clients and go through it with them.
If you find a tick on one of your patients, that’s the prime time to bring up the subject. In fact, Dr. Eberts uses the “gross factor” to his advantage. He pulls off the tick—while the pet owner watches—and places the tick in an empty pill file filled with rubbing alcohol. What makes this “in-your-face” example even more powerful? He rarely cleans out the pill file. When clients see dozens and dozens of dead ticks with their own eyes, they become more moti- vated to protect their pets.
It’s essential to test every one of your patients for tickborne diseases, even the healthy pets. “If you’re only screening animals that are sick, you’re missing the boat and doing the pets a disservice,” Dr. Eberts says. “There are many veterinarians in practice who don’t run the tests because they rarely come back positive. They forget that we want the tests to come back negative—it means we’re doing our jobs right.”
Show and tell
If the results come back negative, he explains, “This is great, but this is why your pet needs to stay on preventive measures.” If the results are positive, it will reinforce your recommendation for tick control.