The case for year-round prevention

Our clients, especially those with cats, don't think year-round heartworm prevention is necessary. What can we do about this?
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Nov 01, 2008

Q Our clients, especially those with cats, don't think year-round heartworm prevention is necessary. What can we do about this?


Ann Bradley, CVT
Cat owners often aren't aware their pets are in danger, especially if they live in low-risk areas, don't travel, and keep their cats indoors. But it's the team's job to educate clients about their pets' risks regardless of how high they are, says Ann Bradley, CVT, practice manager at Cat Care Clinic in Madison, Wisc.

"At our clinic, about 1 percent of cats tested are positive," she says. "But if it's your cat, that percent no longer matters. That's what we tell clients who don't think prevention is important."

To encourage compliance, Bradley starts by training her team about heartworm disease. "We cover how the disease is spread, what complications can occur from infection, and year-round prevention," she says. "When our staff understands the possible ramifications of infection, they put their own cats on prevention. And because it's important to them, they convey the importance to our clients."

Another compliance tip: Incorporate a year's supply of heartworm preventive into all your wellness packages. Doing so makes it much easier for clients to comply, Bradley says. And don't "recommend" year-round prevention, she says. "Studies have shown that compliance is higher when we choose words that create a sense of urgency. Say, 'Your cat needs year-long prevention.'"

Bradley also notes that clients are more receptive when the practice focuses on broad-spectrum preventives that are effective against heartworms and intestinal parasites.