From those who are for pets professionally, to those who own them, to those who simply love them, no one can argue the importance of mobility and quality of life in our animals. Yet, companion animals like dogs have gone and done a tricky thing … they have naturally evolved to hide discomfort, which means in many cases, pet owners may not even be aware their pet is in pain. This can leave veterinary care teams in at tough spot, since alleviating pain is a professional obligation. 😮💨
Did you know that an estimated 40% of dogs and cats suffer from Osteoarthritis1? OA is a life-threatening condition and the number one cause of chronic pain in dogs2, with common risk factors including conformation, genetics, breed, and obesity. What’s a veterinary clinic to do? In order to best serve animals and end the trend of joint issues going undiagnosed, the most impactful approach is a multimodal one.
Clear and consistent communication, client education, regular exercise, proper nutrition, oral supplements, and various types of physical therapies, are six ingredients in the recipe for persuasively promoting joint health and wellness.
1. Start Discussions Early
In order to spread the word about joint wellness, the word must first be spoken … out loud. By you! Start chatting with pet owners about joint health and mobility as early as check-in, continue the discussion during the visit, and don’t forget about post-appointment follow-ups. Keep this as an active conversation thread throughout the duration of the pet and pet owner’s business with your clinic, and you’ll be well on your way to success.
Whereas veterinary healthcare teams have learned to communicate to pet owners the importance of dental health, joint health may not be as familiar of a topic just yet. One fact sure to boost your team’s communication confidence: Your customers are looking for your recommendations and want to lean on you and your team as the trusted experts. If they don’t get the information they need from you, they will conduct online research as a fallback and are likely to encounter misinformation from less trustworthy or unverified internet sources.
2. Inform Clients About Your Therapy Service Offerings
On busy days, it may be tempting to stick to strictly discussing the service your client came in for. However, if you know a particular pet would be a good candidate for a type of therapy your clinic offers, make sure your customers are aware of their options! Do you provide acupuncture? Laser therapy? Hydrotherapy? These offerings not only differentiate your business - they can be truly transformative when it comes to their pawsitive affect on joint health.
If there is simply too much going on during the appointment and not enough time to speak in-depth about your in-clinic therapy offerings, there are loads of other ways to promote these services. A few ideas include:
- Offer to conduct a free tour and walk-through of your therapy equipment at a later date
- Advertise therapy services on your exterior signage and interior screens
- Go “low tech” and advertise on a table tent on your front desk
- Include benefits and testimonials of these therapies in a monthly newsletter, or send a separate, dedicated email
- Consider offering a “buy x number of sessions, get one free” special, to make it more enticing for pet owners to try a new service
3. Teach Clients What to Watch for At Home
As mentioned earlier, many companion animals have evolved to hide outward signs of discomfort, so it can be tough for pet owners to know when their animal may be experiencing joint pain. However, you can help them learn which behaviors to watch for at home, that may indicate there is an issue. Consider creating a take-home print out, or sending an email that outlines the following potential joint pain red flags:
- Trouble rising after lying down
- Hesitancy to climb up or down stairs
- Sleeping more than usual
- Difficulty jumping into the car or onto the bed
- Lagging behind and reluctance to go on walks
- A loss of interest in running, fetching, and play
- Irritability and general behavior changes
4. Supplement with Supplements
Having clients give their pups a joint health supplement like Rejensa® joint care chews every day, can help maintain healthy joints and active movement. Since clients are most likely already giving their pets treats on a regular basis, oral supplements are an “easy swap,” and simple to incorporate into pre-existing feeding and treat routines.
Pet owners look to you for recommendations, so don’t be afraid to let them know which products you stand behind. Have a selection of the top products you recommend on-hand in your clinic to make it convenient for pet owners to purchase. This helps save them the time and frustration of searching on their own.
Studies reveal that dogs who were given Rejensa showed statistically significant improvement in quality of life. These fast-acting, tasty chews contain Gluco Blu® (N-Butyryl Glucosamine), an improved form of glucosamine that really works. In fact, Rejensa is clinically proven to deliver a visible difference in as little as 16 days.*
Just like it’s important to inform pet parents what signs to look for that there may be a joint pain issue, it’s equally as crucial to help them understand what “signs of improvement” look like. Has their dog become more comfortable doing the activities they seemed reluctant to do, or had difficulty doing, before they were given an at-home joint care supplement like Rejensa? Are they running, jumping, and climbing stairs with more ease? These are positive indicators!
5. Present a United Communication Front
From the information your clients receive when they walk through your doors, to what is discussed during and post-visit, to the details you send electronically, everything should be as consistent as possible if your goal is to make the maximum impact when advocating for the importance of joint health and wellness.
Clear and uniform communication across the entire healthcare team is key. This means making sure everyone is on the same page about what joint supplements are being recommended, how to use them, the benefits of various types of therapies, what current specials you may have running, and more. Regular team check-ins or morning huddles can be an effective exercise.
6. Encourage Healthy Habits at Home
We’ve shared several strategies for promoting joint health and mobility while you have an attentive audience with clients in-clinic, but the majority of a pet’s life will be spent at home. Providing your customers with plenty of information about how to maintain good habits on the home front is a critical element of long-term, sustainable joint health success. Here are some high points to hit:
- Plenty of exercise: It’s important to keep those joints moving, and extra fun when the whole family gets involved.
- Proper nutrition: Since obesity is a risk factor for Osteoarthritis, clients need to know how to select the right food, how to seek out healthy treats, and what the appropriate amounts of each are.
- Regular routines: Keeping a consistent schedule at the same time each day will make it easier to remember when to give supplements, and more likely the maximum benefits will be unlocked.
Your customers view you and your care team as the “source of truth” when it comes to how to take the best care of their pets. Promoting joint health and wellness throughout an animal’s life by employing a multifaceted approach that combines communication, education, supplements, and therapies, is a wonderful way to build and solidify client trust over time – while also ensuring the animals in your care are living their richest, most pain-free, most mobile lives!
1. 2022 AAHA Pain Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats
2. Chronic Pain in Pets Part 1: Causes, Symptoms and Prevention; Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. Sept 2022
* Data on file. Phibro Animal Health Corporation.