‘Wellness plan? But Barnaby’s as fit as a fiddle!’

‘Wellness plan? But Barnaby’s as fit as a fiddle!’

You know that wellness plans are a great way to keep Barnaby healthy, but your veterinary clients may need some convincing (which is OK!). With preparation and practice, you can explain the value of this preventive care program.
Mar 09, 2018

"Wellness plan? With this physique? Surely you jest." (Shutterstock.com)Stores don’t sell many umbrellas on sunny days. Who thinks of preparing for rain when the sky is cloudless and the air is dry?

Similarly, it can be difficult for veterinary professionals to convince owners of healthy pets that wellness plans are well worth the money and effort to protect against future health problems. Who wants to think about vaccines, fecal exams and heartworm tests when the pet is young and fit?

Nevertheless, you know it’s a conversation worth having—even while skies are sunny. Check out these common client questions about wellness plans and possible responses. With a little preparation, you stand a better chance of convincing your clients to plan for—and perhaps prevent—rainy health days.

Pet owner: Does Barnaby really need all of the vaccines included in the wellness plan?

You: Barnaby’s vaccines are just as important as vaccines are in people. Along with the rabies vaccine, which is required by law, the distemper combo vaccine can help prevent deadly illnesses such as canine parvovirus. Other vaccines that protect against serious diseases, including Lyme disease, leptospirosis and kennel cough, are highly recommended—especially if Barnaby spends time outside, at dog parks and in boarding or daycare facilities.

Pet owner: I understand these vaccines are important, but can't they hurt him? What if he has a reaction?

You: While the chance of a vaccine reaction in Barnaby is low, it’s still a possibility. However, these reactions are usually mild, ranging from swelling at the injection site to fever and vomiting. Most vaccine reactions can be treated quickly with a few medications. If a vaccine reaction is noted in Barnaby, he can be premedicated with an antihistamine before future vaccines to help prevent reactions.

Pet owner: If Barnaby is vaccinated for Lyme disease and on heartworm prevention, why is yearly testing necessary?

You: While preventives and vaccines are important, nothing is 100 percent effective. Because most diseases are easier to treat when caught early, we want to take every precaution to make sure nothing is missed. Also, if there is a lapse in heartworm prevention and a pet is infected with heartworms, the preventive can sometimes harm the pet. If you ever miss a dose of heartworm prevention, Barnaby should be tested before giving him the next dose.

Pet owner: I’ve never seen any worms in Barnaby’s stool. Does he really need a fecal exam?

You: Because the life cycles of parasites continue to change, you might not always see physical worms in Barnaby’s stool. We perform fecal exams in a lab using a microscope, so our team is able to find infestations that you might not have noticed at home. A fecal exam keeps Barnaby safe, and it keeps you and your family safe too. Many intestinal parasites can spread to people, so it’s important to make sure Barnaby doesn’t have any untreated infestations—especially if you have children.

Pet owner: This seems like a high cost for some routine vaccines and tests. Is it really a good deal? Barnaby seems pretty healthy already.

You: Barnaby is healthy now, and we want him to stay that way. The exams, vaccines and tests included in the wellness plan were chosen to keep Barnaby in optimal health and save you money in the long run by avoiding expensive treatment costs and hospital stays. And you can pay for these items in small chunks over the course of the year at a discount instead of a couple of large payments.

Every wellness plan is different, so be sure to personalize this script to educate clients on the particular perks of your practice’s wellness plan.


Ciera Sallese is a CVT and VTS (Clinical practice) at Metzger Animal Hospital in State College, Pennsylvania.