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Spectrum of care: protocols to support pet owners’ budgets

Downtown Charlotte, NC

By developing protocols, veterinary practices can support clients who may face financial obstacles in getting their pets proper care

Content sponsored by Virbac

Pet care costs have been exponentially rising, making it challenging for pet owners to access the full spectrum of veterinary care. As a result, veterinary practices should enact protocols that help tailor solutions for clients who may face economic barriers. To shed light on this topic, Rick Marrinson, DVM, spoke at the Fetch dvm360® Conference about steps that practices should take to find a compromise between client needs and affordability.1

Priority of care

During the 2008 recession, Marrinson’spractice created a list of wellness services focused on the priority of care. This method allowed the practice to provide the most crucial care first, succeeded by other services until the client’s budget was reached. The first service provided was a comprehensive physical exam, followed by parasite detection/treatment/prevention, wellness laboratory testing, dentistry, and finally vaccines.

Three-step care plan

This manner of pinpointing a client’s best options works as the basis for creating a pet care plan now, according to Marrinson. In 2022, consumers in the United States spent $124 billion on pet care.2 Now more than ever, veterinary clinics should seek individualized plans for pet owners. These plans should include assessing local risks, relaying these risks to clients while stressing their importance, and then forming a working protocol that highlights cost. As an example, Marrinson narrows in on parasite planning to demonstrate these 3 primary steps. However, these steps may be applied to any treatment plan.

The first step, assessing local risk, plays a major role in finding the proper parasite prevention care. Since parasites vary by region, the geographical location of the client should be considered when identifying risk. The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) regularly receives parasite diagnostic data and then uses this data to map out annual parasite forecast maps.

The second step in this process is to communicate the risks from to the client with full transparency. Risks should be presented in a consumer-friendly manner and be backed up by both current and historical data.

The third and final step is to make a plan that includes recommendations that account for the client’s budget. Veterinary practices can consult the CAPC guidelines and reference materials. In case a client requires a more affordable alternative to the “perfect world” protocol, practices should partner with companies that supply effective, lower-cost parasite prevention products, Marrinson said.

By stressing accessibility for all pet owners, veterinary clinics can create comprehensive care plans that fit various budgets to find solutions for “every client, every pet, every time.”


  1. Marrinson R. Solutions: Every Client, Every Pet, Every Time. Presented at Fetch dvm360® Xonference; Charlotte, North Carolina. March 24-26, 2023.
  2. Ciochia A. Pet spending statistics (2023): how much do americans spend on pets? FinMasters. January 9, 2023. Accessed March 28, 2023. https://finmasters.com/pet-spending-statistics/#gref
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