October marks the start of the second year of the National Pet Wellness Month campaign, co-sponsored by the AVMA and Fort Dodge Animal Health. The campaign is a clinic-centered educational initiative designed to raise consumer awareness about the pet aging process, disease prevention, and the importance of twice-a-year wellness examinations for all cats and dogs.
The fall 2005 campaign introduces a variety of new and unique ways to help veterinarians initiate client communications about the pet aging process and the importance of twice-a-year wellness examinations. Resources including the following:
- An in-clinic education kit features colorful posters about pet aging and healthy cats, consumer brochures, a feline health guide, and other useful materials. Designed for year-round use in the clinic, kits were mailed to participating clinics starting in August.
- A national public awareness campaign includes TV and radio public service announcements and messages delivered by Dr. Marty Becker, the national consumer spokesman. Dr. Becker is contributing veterinarian for "Good Morning America" and veterinary/pet columnist for Knight Ridder/Tribune.
- New educational materials for veterinary staff and pet owners were added to the campaign Web site.
Veterinarians can register for the campaign at www.NPWM.com.
As an additional resource to facilitate client communications and add value to client services, Fort Dodge Animal Health is providing clinics a Wellness Exam Report form.
"The Wellness Exam Report is a useful client communication tool for any small animal clinic," said Dr. Stephen B. Jaffe, director of field veterinary services for Fort Dodge. "It's easy for clients to understand and it can be used by veterinarians to discuss pet lifestyle issues, record patient information and check off exam results, as well as explain exam findings and provide follow-up instructions."
The Wellness Exam Report form and a Disease-Risk Assessment form are available by visiting the new "Clinics Only" portion of the Web site. Users can select combination canine/feline or feline-only forms. This Web area also offers a variety of downloadable client education materials.
Coinciding with National Pet Wellness Month is a new public service campaign, "Is Your Cat Healthy?"—sponsored by the AVMA. This campaign aims to inform pet owners about important health and behavioral issues unique to cats and what owners can do to help their cats live longer, healthier, happier lives.
Long-term trends in comprehensive studies of pet demographics and use of veterinary care by the AVMA show that cats are brought to a veterinarian only about half as often as dogs are. Some veterinarians attribute this to cats being better than dogs at hiding illness, making it difficult for owners to realize there is a problem.
The new campaign depicts the challenges many cat owners face when attempting to differentiate between normal behavior and signs of potentially serious health problems in their pets. Television and radio public service announcements were developed to heighten awareness about the importance of twice-a-year feline wellness examinations and their role in helping veterinarians detect, treat, or prevent many health problems before they become life-threatening.
The television PSA spots were filmed at Fairmount Animal Hospital in Syracuse, N.Y. The hospital is co-owned by Drs. Suzanne Behrens Losito and Eileen Fatcheric-Burns. The latter appears in the PSA.
The television and radio PSAs, as well as information about the signs of illness in cats, are also available through the National Pet Wellness Month Web site.
"An overall focus on wellness is the next natural progression in the evolution of veterinary care," said AVMA president, Dr. Henry E. Childers. "Through National Pet Wellness Month, veterinarians and their staff have access to a wealth of high-quality educational materials to help their clients become more knowledgeable consumers of veterinary care services. We strongly encourage all AVMA members to sign up and participate in this breakthrough campaign."