Fleas, ticks got clients hopping mad?

January 5, 2017

When a flea, tick or heartworm preventive doesn't work, this veterinary practice manager doesn't point fingers. Here's why.

"Hey, doc. I paid a lot of money for this parasite preventive, and LOOK at this. What gives?" (Getty Images)If pet owners buy and use a parasite preventive from Dogwood Pet Hospital in Gresham, Oregon, and it fails (doesn't happen often), all team members point to practice manager David Hawkins. And he totally understands when the clients are frustrated.

"They've paid good money, and it doesn't work," Hawkins says.

It doesn't happen often, he says, but he doesn't dwell on figuring out who's at fault. He just starts gathering information from the pet owner that the parasite preventive manufacturer will want to report the failure to the FDA. And in cases with the big companies like Elanco, Novartis and Merial, his experience is that they happily cut a check to cover the cost of the failed product and diagnostics and treatment of parasites-"to make the pet owner whole," he says.

Easy-peasy for the pet owner, and Hawkins likes it that way.

He and his team members set the stage for good client expectations by always explaining that no medication is ever 100 perfect, 100 percent guaranteed.

"We try to be careful not to spend time pinning fault anywhere."

"And you never know whether the dog went out later and threw up the preventive," Hawkins says. "We try to be careful not to spend time pinning fault anywhere."

That's his biggest pro tip for good conversations with clients when parasite preventives don't work: "Always be careful what you say about the product, and remember nothing is 100 percent protective and perfect with so many variables."