Share food and exercise tips on the Web and in newsletters.
For some veterinarians, it's not enough just to combat pet obesity in the exam room. Dr. Anne Chauvet, DACVIM (neurology), has performed too many back surgeries on pets to ignore the issue. The owner of Veterinary Neuro Services in Sarasota, Fla., took the fight to the public in 2007.
She organized a weight-loss competition with eight canine contestants (see the September 2007 issue for more), and all those dogs, many of whom were "massively overweight," have kept off the pounds off with consistent exercise and a healthy diet. To help her point hit home, Dr. Chauvet kicked off 2009 with an Internet public relations campaign using sites such as prweb.com and prlog.com. Here are some tips that Dr. Chauvet recommends passing on to clients:
Always start a pet weight loss program with a visit to a veterinarian. A knowledgeable doctor can recommend the correct amount of food and advise how to reduce the amount gradually. He or she can also uncover any underlying health issues, such as an underactive thyroid.
Eliminate the bottomless bowl. Whether they're on a diet or not, pets should be fed once or twice a day, preferably at the same time each day.
Use treat time to promote bonding between yourself and your pet, but consider giving treats in smaller amounts.
Exercise regularly with pets. Don't overdo it: start by walking your pet twice a day for at least 10 to 15 minutes each time. Coax cats to chase a toy or a string in multiple shorter sessions.
You could include tips such as these in press releases and client newsletters, or on your Web site. Reaching out to the public boosts your visibility and fills the information void with good veterinary know-how.