October is National Pet Wellness Month

New initiative helps veterinarians educate pet owners about pet aging process, health benefits of twice-a-year wellness examinations
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Get Ready!This month, thousands of veterinarians across the country are participating in a new educational initiative designed to raise consumer awareness about the pet aging process and the importance of twice-a-year wellness examinations for dogs and cats.

National Pet Wellness Month, which is co-sponsored by the AVMA and Fort Dodge Animal Health, is a clinic-centered program designed to promote pet wellness year-round. The program begins in October, which has been designated National Pet Wellness Month. According to the sponsors, several thousand veterinary clinics had signed up for the program by late August and received a free In-Clinic Education Kit. The kit contains a variety of educational literature and point-of-sale material to assist veterinarians and their staffs in informing clients about pet aging and the health benefits of twice-a-year wellness examinations.

"We are really excited about this new initiative and very pleased with the initial response from veterinarians," said AVMA President Bonnie V. Beaver. "Our members see that this is a high-quality program to provide the best care for their patients and want to be part of it. In particular, the state associations have shown tremendous support for the program, and we thank them for helping get the word out to their members."

The sponsors say that creating greater knowledge and awareness of the benefits of twice-a-year pet wellness examinations is a centerpiece of the National Pet Wellness Month program.

"We firmly believe that this program can have a dramatic impact on the health, quality of life, and longevity of America's pets," said Brent Standridge, Fort Dodge Animal Health's senior vice president of sales and marketing, North America. "And the best place for pet owners to learn about the pet aging process and wellness examinations is from their own veterinarian."

As part of National Pet Wellness Month, a consumer outreach program will direct pet owners to contact their veterinarian for more information.

"We want consumers to think about the connection between pet aging and pet health, and then talk to their personal veterinarian about it," Standridge said.

The sponsors say that beginning in mid-September and continuing throughout October, a series of coordinated activities will help deliver National Pet Wellness Month's messages to consumers and encourage pet owners to contact their veterinarian. The sponsors describe the consumer outreach efforts as follows:

Veterinary clinic outreach—Veterinary clinics participating in the National Pet Wellness Month program receive an In-Clinic Education Kit containing a news release that promotes National Pet Wellness Month. Veterinarians and clinic staff are asked to contact their local newspapers and TV and radio stations to talk with local reporters about pet aging and why it's important for dogs and cats to be examined twice a year.

Official spokesperson—Dr. Marty Becker, a veterinarian, author, educator, and media personality, will serve as this year's official spokesperson for National Pet Wellness Month. In this capacity, Dr. Becker will appear in a variety of TV and radio programs to talk about pet wellness and promote the concept of twice-a-year wellness examinations.

National Pet Wellness Month Web site—The official Web site for National Pet Wellness Month is www.npwm.com. The Web site is educational and interactive. Visitors can use a calculator to see their pet's age in human years, play a pet aging game, read "second chance" stories provided by veterinarians, and obtain pet wellness month news releases.

Case story news releases—During October, National Pet Wellness Month will issue weekly news releases using actual pet owner or veterinarian case stories to educate consumers on such topics as "Taking control of your pet's wellness" and "Caring for older pets." Case stories such as the following one will also appear on the pet wellness month Web site:

"Recently, a 7-year-old Golden Retriever mix, Hanna, came in for her semiannual visit. On physical examination, she appeared normal but slightly obese. I recommended a more comprehensive wellness profile, and the owner agreed. Tests showed Hanna's liver enzymes were dangerously elevated, and her gallbladder was on the verge of rupture. I removed her gallbladder and am now treating her for liver disease. Hanna is doing very well and will probably make a full recovery. She's a great example of a pet whose life was saved because of a comprehensive wellness exam."