Parasites: the invisible threat


Don't just tell clients about the threat-show them.

Do your clients show a lackadaisical attitude toward parasites? It's probably because the threat is invisible, says Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Dr. Marty Becker, writer, speaker, and resident veterinarian for Good Morning America. For example, clients should obviously keep their dogs on a leash when taking a walk—cars zooming by are a very visible threat.

Parasites, however, don't have the same in-your-face effect. So Dr. Becker, who works as an associate at North Idaho Animal Hospital in Sandpoint, Idaho, and at Lakewood Animal Hospital in Couer d'Alene, Idaho, likes to use educational posters to drive the point home. "Clients can see that a mosquito bite can kill their pet and that even indoor pets are at risk," he says. "Posters show them that, by using year-round parasite prevention, they're protecting their pets from these heinous hitchhikers."

This message is especially important for clients who think parasites aren't a year-round threat or a problem for all pets, Dr. Becker says. "You can't just use preventives for one pet and not the other," he says. "You can't time dosages based on where you live or the time of year. We have to stress lifetime parasite control for all pets. You wouldn't ignore oil changes in your car, even though that's an invisible threat. Teach clients to put their pets on a parasite control schedule and not to let it lapse."

Just as important, Dr. Becker's team members reinforce his recommendations. "There's nothing more powerful than a team member saying, 'This is what I do for my own pet,'" he says. When a team member says this—assuming it's true—clients can see that veterinary experts follow their own advice. That's an educational device money can't buy.

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