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Ditch that itch: Put pets on the right path


Veterinary team members play a critical role in helping pet owners manage dermatologic conditions. Use this team training advice to guide you and your peers on the road to effective client education and follow-up care.

In a perfect world, pets would never get sick. And if they did, you'd be able to solve their problems the first time, every time. But the reality is, some conditions are a little tricky. They require patience and persistence. And if the pet owner isn't prepared, this can be a rocky road with plentiful pitfalls.

The good news is, you and your team can pave the way for a smoother journey. Use this educational map to guide you on the road to helping pet owners handle chronic ear diseases and dermatologic conditions.

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"Dermatologic conditions can be frustrating to owners, and it may take a lifelong commitment to manage the issues, rather than curing the problem completely. The goal is to control rather than cure the issue in most dermatologic cases," says Sandra Grable, CVT, a dermatology technician at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital. "It is extremely important for team members to be supportive and empathetic to pet owners. They also need to make sure clients know the importance of following through with all treatment protocols, and they need to commend pet owners on a job well-done."

What do you know?

An educational meeting will put the entire team on the right path. But first you need to find out where each team member is on the way to greater knowledge about otitis externa and other conditions. A good place to start is with a pre-test to gauge team members' current knowledge.

Team meeting in a Virtual Box

Once you've got a clear idea of what team members already know, you can formulate your plan for your team meeting. (You'll find all the resources you need, including a sample trainer's script and a pre-test for team members, at dvm360.com/teammeeting.)

A common area for improvement is follow-up care. Grable recommends developing a system where you schedule follow-up appointments before pet owners leave the practice and call with follow-up reminders a few days before the appointment. "Make sure to ask the owner to call if the pet isn't responding to treatment or if the owner has any questions or concerns," she says. "Schedule callbacks one week after the visit, and ask owners how the pet's responding to treatment."

Lunch & learn: Itchy issues

Grable says it's also critical to make sure pet owners know how to properly treat their pets. "They need to be comfortable performing any treatments before they leave the clinic," she says. "For example, show them how to clean and medicate one ear and have them clean and medicate the other ear so you can offer any suggestions and helpful hints."

Educated teams can steer pet owners down a healthier road—and help them dodge clinical boulders in their way.

Portia Stewart is a freelance writer in Lenexa, Kan. Share your comments at dvm360.com/community.

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