Senior Wellness – It’s All in the Delivery


Your veterinary customers know that there are many important senior pet conditions for both dogs and cats, including chronic kidney disease, liver disease, and metabolic disorders like diabetes. Recognizing these conditions early can help improve the quality of life for the pet and do wonders for the human-animal bond. Complete diagnostic efforts including routine bloodwork, such as CBC and chemistry panels, are critical to monitoring multiple organ systems, response to medication, and disease progression. Veterinarians should be evaluating regular bloodwork at annual wellness testing with senior pets.

There have been several studies over the past 10 years or so detailing a decline in visits to veterinary clinics, especially with our feline friends. Veterinarians are by nature not the greatest communicators and do an even poorer job of communicating the value of their services. Every time a pet owner enters a clinic, our customers have an opportunity to bond their client to the practice and focus on the value of preventive care.

Sometimes behavior changes are the first sign the pet owner will notice and could provide insight into a potential medically related issue. We need to encourage dialogue around behavior and our customers need to let their clients know that there are non-pharmaceutical options available. Derek Archambault, Director of Marketing from VetriSCIENCE Laboratories, states that “pet owners can be reluctant to bring up behavioral issues and are often hesitant to ask their veterinarian about alternative therapeutic options.” Providing solutions our customers’ clients want will help our customers be seen as the complete resource for their clients.

Senior programs
Providing solutions for pet owners to bring their pets into the clinic more often for routine screening and diagnostics, especially as they age, is increasingly important to extending the quality of our pets’ lives. Secondarily, it makes good business sense for the practice. Companies may have business consulting programs to help you stay on track with implementing and growing senior programs. Abaxis, recently acquired by Zoetis, has one such program called Abaxis Veterinary Business Consulting. This is a courtesy program created to focus on preventive care, pre-surgical evaluations, and illness monitoring and provide good client communication tools. During the initial stages of the program, the veterinarian and staff set goals and if those goals are met, the practice is rewarded. As Dr. Andrew Rosenfeld DVM, AVBP, Medical Director for Abaxis states, “Senior wellness should be part of good preventative care. In doing so, you evaluate the animal more frequently, treat the animal earlier, and enhance quality of life and longevity for the pet.”

Just like with any program being implemented, its success is dependent on the buy-in from the entire clinic staff. We need to remind the veterinarian that this is a team effort, from the receptionist to the technical staff. Everyone needs to be talking about the value of disease prevention and the benefits to screening for and identifying potential medical issues before they are major problems requiring extensive medical care. Consistently repeating the same message to the appropriate clients will eventually help to raise compliance and help clients to see the veterinary team as a partner in managing their pet’s health. This persistent messaging should be repeated year-round. Thus, we create a habit among veterinarians and their clients, so that preventative care is not something the pet owner needs to do, but is rather a way of life for both the pet owner and their pets.