Lyme disease: How to keep pets—and your veterinary clients—safe

Sunny days and a milder winter bring more than an early spring—they may also mean more ticks all over the country. As the threat increases, your role in safeguarding health in your community is more important than ever before.
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Jun 01, 2012

The past winter, we experienced much-warmer-than-normal temperatures in many areas. With these warmer temperatures, the trees, grass, flowers, and critters came to life in beautiful colors much earlier than normal. Unfortunately, among those critters are mosquitoes and ticks.

We often first see ticks on dogs during the spring months, but I'm betting we will see them much earlier and in greater numbers than we have in previous years—even in places where ticks haven't typically been a problem before. So even if ticks haven't been an issue in your area in the past, you need to be prepared.

Be ready to confidently talk with all clients coming through your doors and answer all of their questions concerning the hows and whys of parasites and the preventive products available. If we don't offer education when clients are in the practice, they may look to the Internet or the teenager working at the local pet store who talks them into using the product of the month on their shelves.

Start with team meetings

To be effective educators, we need to know the details of the disease, be familiar with the testing done concerning these diseases, and know the particulars of the products on our shelves that prevent these diseases. It's important to plan team meetings to discuss the products the veterinarian recommends and why he or she recommends them for each different bug and disease. Then specifically outline the role of the doctor, the technician, the veterinary assistant, the receptionist, the kennel attendant, and the practice manager. We all do better when we know our message and can share it with confidence.

The client needs to hear the same message from every member of the veterinary team. Often a pet owner must hear a message five to seven times before it sinks in. Let's start by reviewing some of the facts about Lyme disease. Then you can plan a team meeting to review this information and implement education strategies within your practice.