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Veterinary groups form broad coalition to jumpstart visits to veterinarians

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The number of veterinary visits is falling, and a new partnership of veterinary associations and animal-health companies aims to reverse the trend.

St. Louis –

The number of veterinary visits is falling, and a new partnership between veterinary associations and animal-health companies aims to reverse the trend.

The Partnership for Preventive Pet Healthcare was unveiled today during a press briefing at the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) annual meeting here.

The program, explains Dr. Ron DeHaven, executive vice president and CEO of AVMA, is meant to recruit veterinarians and veterinary technicians to drive home the need for preventive veterinary medicine to pet owners. And that calls for a fundamental shift in the way most veterinary practices deliver its services. In fact, the groups are asking for veterinarians to adopt a wellness/preventive medicine approach to care rather than relying solely on treating sick animals. The ultimate goal is to drive access to veterinary care for those pet owners who are not routinely visiting veterinarians.

While veterinary officials have noted a decline in veterinary visits, especially by cat owners, data generated from millions of pet records by Banfield Pet Hospital is showing increases in common and preventable diseases like diabetes, heartworm, internal parasites and dental disease as first reported by

DVM Newsmagazine

.

There have be a variety of reasons for these trends, DeHaven notes, including a sluggish economy, changes in vaccination protocols, the Internet as a source of information for many pet owners and the growth of online pharmacies and shift in distribution of flea-and-tick medications.

While there are strategies to compete in all those areas, the economic downturn can be reversed when the profession embraces a wellness platform for veterinary care.

Dr. Michael Moyer, president of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), says this trend of declining veterinary visits has been going on for more than a decade.

This new partnership aims to help veterinarians and pet owners by creating guidelines, new educational tools and educational awareness programs directed to pet owners in 2012 or early 2013.

The partnership includes organizations from AVMA, AAHA, Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, Abbott Animal Health, Banfield Pet Hospital, Bayer HealthCare LLC, Boehringer-Ingelheim Vetmedica, Butler Schein Animal Health, Elanco Animal Health, Hill's Pet Nutrition, Merck Animal Health, Merial, MWI Veterinary Supply, Novartis Animal Health, Pfizer Animal Health and Veterinary Pet Insurance.

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