Little clients offer big rewards

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Aug 01, 2006



Next time you walk into an exam room, look down. Are there curious little faces looking back? They may be small in stature, but children are an important ingredient in pets' health, says Cindy Adams, MSW, PhD, associate professor of communication and epidemiology at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

When you meet your littlest clients in the exam room, Adams suggests using some of these ideas to get them involved.

1. If the exam takes place on the table, offer a chair or stool so children can see. For larger pets, use a mat on the ground to give kids a front-row view.

2. Ask children open- and closed-ended questions. For example, you might ask, "Where does Barney sleep?" and "Tell me about the things you and Barney do together." Then pass this information on to the doctor; it might trigger an important discussion about zoonoses or parasite control.

3. Engage children in their pets' care. When the doctor is listening to the pet's heart, you can explain what's happening and maybe even offer them a chance to listen in, too.

"When you connect with the whole client family, you improve pets' health," Adams says. "Kids can play a huge role in helping keep pets healthy and happy."