Pillars of prevention: Getting to "yes" for parasite control—a roundtable discussion (Sponsored by Merial)

Pillars of prevention: Getting to "yes" for parasite control—a roundtable discussion (Sponsored by Merial)

Now more than ever, pet owners have greater parasite control options for their pets — not only in terms of product choices, but also in the places where they can purchase these products. This has made the role of the veterinarian and veterinary team even more critical in guiding clients through this ever-changing landscape. It has also made it more frustrating for the veterinary team, who can sometimes wonder why they should make the effort to discuss parasite control with their clients. Yet, every office visit is an opportunity to get to "yes" with pet owners for providing parasite control for their pets.

During a recent roundtable discussion, leading experts in the fields of veterinary parasitology, dermatology, behavior, and client communication gathered to discuss parasite control opportunities in clinical practice. The topics they discussed included:

  • Identification of practice barriers to providing parasite control for their patients
  • Keys to getting agreement with pet owners about the importance of parasite control
  • Proven processes that can convert agreement into a protected pet and a satisfied client

The Veterinary State of Mind

Michael Murray, DVM, MS, DACVIM (moderator)*
Dr. Michael Murray (moderator): Based on your recent conversations with veterinarians and veterinary staff, what do you think their frame of mind is regarding parasite control?

Valerie A. Fadok, DVM, PhD, DACVD*
Dr. Valerie Fadok: I think veterinarians in my region (Texas) believe that they're losing control over parasite management in their clients' pets, because of over-the-counter (OTC) sales. They believe that they don't have as many opportunities to make recommendations as they used to.

Michael W. Dryden, DVM, MS, PhD, DACVM*
Dr. Michael Dryden: One of the frustrations that I hear a lot is that veterinarians are overwhelmed with product choices today. There has been an explosion in the number of parasiticides available over the past several years, and they just cannot keep up with all the conflicting information.

Steve Dale*
Steve Dale: Pet owners also have more choices than ever before, and can purchase OTC products. The problem is that they may choose the wrong product for their pets or their lifestyle. The veterinarian should be the trusted expert. But too often either the pet owner makes a choice without a veterinarian's input or the veterinarian does not provide a specific recommendation.

Julie Mullins*
Julie Mullins: My impression is that many veterinarians leave it up to the client to decide what product they want.

Mary Ann Vande Linde, DVM*
Dr. Mary Ann Vande Linde: Veterinarians often don't get to the level of discussion about what a particular pet needs. They just talk about fleas and ticks generally and don't actually get to the individual pet's needs.

Michael Canfield, DVM, DACVD*
Dr. Michael Canfield: Rather than putting yourself out there to make a recommendation and risk hearing "no," or having to address questions from "Dr. Google," it's easier to just play it safe. You can say, "You should treat your dog for fleas and ticks, and we've got lots of products to choose from. Tell the receptionist what you'd like."

Dr. Vande Linde: But because veterinarians play it safe and leave the decision up to the client, the client is totally confused. I've watched people's faces when doctors give them all the choices for fl ea and tick control. I feel so sorry for these clients. They can't remember what this drug does or that drug does. They don't know what to choose, so they don't make any decision at all.

Dr. Murray: So on one hand, veterinarians today feel like they don't have control of parasiticides because pet owners have so many choices outside the veterinary clinic. But on the other hand, I'm hearing that veterinarians are struggling with the choice of products that they offer and that they often leave the decision up to pet owners. It sounds like we're talking about two sides of the same coin.

*See page 11 for biographical information.