Even with the growth of pet insurance, most pet owners still pay for veterinary care, including parasite preventives, out of their own pockets. Although pet owners generally want to do the very best for their pets, financial constraints, especially after the pandemic, can make it necessary for some to decline certain health care recommendations. This can be a stressful and emotional decision for pet owners, and they often feel guilty when they simply can’t afford the care.
At the same time, discussing prices isn’t any easier for you, as a veterinarian. The comfort you feel making recommendations based on sound medicine can crumble when you venture into what can be perceived as the business side of veterinary medicine. It can also feel stressful when your patients leave the practice without the basic, preventive care you believe is important for their health.
Still, heartworms and intestinal worms can lead to serious and even fatal disease in pets. Roundworms and hookworms can also put families at risk for devastating zoonotic diseases. Parasite treatment and control is fundamental to delivering the best quality of care for your patients and clients.
By stocking affordable parasite treatment options, you can feel confident more of your patients will receive the care you recommend. This can also help build trust and loyalty with pet owners, who appreciate that they can protect their pets without overextending their budgets.
Risk of heartworm infections is on the rise
Pets are at higher-than-average risk for heartworm disease in 2021, according to Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) forecasts.1
Part of this rise in heartworm prevalence is attributed to pet owners who don’t administer heartworm preventives 12 months of the year.1 In fact, a recent study revealed that only 25% of dogs receive heartworm preventives regularly.2
In addition to problems with owner compliance, other factors may contribute to the predicted rise in heartworm infections. Many geographic locations are experiencing warmer weather than usual, creating the perfect breeding ground for mosquitos. Transporting homeless dogs and cats between states to help find adoptable homes is also more common, and may account for heartworm infections expanding into new areas.
CAPC warns that pets are especially at risk this year along the Mississippi River, the Atlantic coast and the southern parts of the Midwest. Infections are also expected to grow in new regions, including northern California, western Montana, and Idaho.
This is no time for your patients to experience a lapse in year-round heartworm prevention.
Intestinal worms remain a source of zoonotic disease
If only a quarter of dogs receive regular heartworm preventives, which typically also protect against intestinal worms, it’s likely there’s a gap in parasite treatment and control on that front, as well. It’s bad enough that roundworms can stunt growth and development, but hookworms can cause anemia and even death in puppies and kittens. Infected pets also serve as a source of potential zoonotic infections for family members.
Humans, especially children, can become infected with roundworms by accidentally ingesting infective Toxocara canis eggs shed by dogs or Toxocara cati eggs from cats. Migrating larva may infiltrate various organs such as the liver, lungs, and central nervous system. Signs of visceral larva migrans may include enlarged liver, coughing, pneumonia, and fever.
Roundworm larvae can also cause ocular larva migrans by traveling to the eyes, potentially damaging the retina and causing permanent vision loss.
Hookworms continue to infect pets and their owners. Dogs and cats can serve as a source for infective eggs from the species Ancylostoma braziliense and Uncinaria stenocephala. Dogs can also shed Ancylostoma caninum eggs.
Humans generally become infected when larvae penetrate the skin. Infection can lead to cutaneous larva migrans, with the telltale serpentine tracks in the skin that are intensely pruritic.
Bolster client loyalty with affordable options
For some clients, offering affordable heartworm preventives and parasite treatment and control can help remove one barrier to compliance. It might even convince owners to bring their dogs to the clinic more often.
In the Bayer veterinary care usage study, 51% of owners said their veterinarians would see their dogs more frequently if the clinic offered prices on products, such as parasite treatment, that were competitive to those owners could find elsewhere.3
Underscore the value of heartworm prevention
Still, purchase decisions are rarely based solely on price; value is an important consideration, too. Pet owners want to know how your recommendation will impact the health and well-being of their pets.
Helping owners understand why parasite treatment and control are crucial for minimizing discomfort and illness for their pets—can reinforce your position as the best resource for owners to turn to for pet health information.
Owners can also appreciate how heartworm prevention can potentially reduce future expenses.
In the veterinary care usage study, 59% of owners said they’d take their dog to the veterinarian more often if they knew they could prevent problems and expensive treatments later.3
It’s also critical for veterinarians or staff to take the time to explain the proper use of parasite treatment. In another study, 27% of dog owners believed they were administering heartworm preventives to their dogs when they were actually giving flea and tick products.2 Ensuring proper administration is another way to protect your patients and keep pet owners satisfied with your recommendations.
Proven heartworm preventives at a practical price
With IVERHART® Brand Products, you can offer dog owners proven, effective parasite preventives that are more affordable than many other brands.
Available in a palatable pork flavor for easy dosing, IVERHART PLUS® (ivermectin/pyrantel) Flavored Chewables provide 3-in-1 protection against heartworms, hookworms, and roundworms for up to 32% savings per dose over a leading competitive brand.4
With IVERHART MAX® Chew (ivermectin/pyrantel pamoate/praziquantel), you can offer dog owners 4-in-1 protection against heartworms, hookworms, roundworms, and tapeworms for up to 14% savings per dose over a leading competitive brand.4 The reasonable price, combined with the tasty bacon formula, make it easy for pet owners to comply with your recommendations.
Visit protecteverypet.virbac.com for important safety information.
- Companion Animal Parasite Council. Companion Animal Parasite Council releases annual 2021 pet parasite forecast. Available at: https://capcvet.org/about-capc/ news-events/companion-animal-parasite-council-re- leases-annual-2021-pet-parasite-forecast/. Accessed May 4, 2021.
- American Animal Hospital Association. Heartworm compliance study: just because you’re sick of talking about heartworm prevention doesn’t mean your clients are. Available at: www.aaha.org/publications/newstat/ articles/2019-05/heartworm-compliance-study-just-be- cause-youre-sick-of-talking-about-heartworm-prevention- doesnt-mean-your-clients-are. Accessed May 4, 2021.
- Volk JO, Felsted KE, Thomas JG, Siren CW. Executive summary of the Bayer veterinary care usage study. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2011;238(10):1275-1282.