This client handout spells out renal care to improve compliance.
Renal disease in pets can lead to tough decisions for clients. Sure, some pet owners who are referred to Dr. Cathy Langston's nephrology, urology, and hemodialysis unit at Animal Medical Center in New York will opt for expensive measures in the late stages. But many can't—or won't. So why let it get to this point? There are patients to be helped and revenue to be earned by improving diagnostic protocols and treating early problems with diet changes and medications. These are all protocols that can help your bottom line.
Renal disease can be treated only if it's detected. Consider annual urinalyses for at-risk pets—certain breeds and older felines. "Even for healthy older animals, performing urinalyses, blood work, and blood pressure checks on an annual basis makes a lot of sense," Dr. Langston, DACVIM, says. "Many pets don't get their first urinalysis until they're in renal failure." While it's often easier to draw blood than urine, urinalysis is crucial.
"Special low-protein diets are still the most effective thing we have to help cats and dogs with renal problems," says Dr. Langston. Her patients have tried all the major brands and her biggest concern is always palatability. Does a pet like the taste of one better than another? Then that's the brand it should get. Convenience is also important for clients. Dr. Langston typically offers diets that are immediately available at her hospital or at others nearby. (If you don't sell pet food, consider it. For more tips, click here to read “Carry food for more clients. )
Sharp needles. Fluid bubbles. Animal restraint problems. Clients have many reasons why administering subcutaneous fluids scares them. Don't let fear win. Because the benefits of proper hydration are huge both for pets' health and quality of life, make sure you educate clients about how to administer fluids at home or offer the service at your clinic for squeamish pet owners. The pets will benefit from better care, clients will become more attuned to their pets' health, and your practice can benefit from the sales of fluid bags, needles, and continued wellness and follow-up visits.
Whether it's urinalysis, low-protein diets, feeding tubes, or organ transplants, care for pets with renal disease starts with educating concerned pet owners about the disease, treatments, and the quality of life a stable cat or dog with renal disease can expect. Your practice will benefit from longer-living patients.