Informed pet owners more likely to give heartworm preventatives

New study looks at why consumers make the choices they do regarding heartworm prevention

Pet owners who have regular and open discussions with their veterinarian are more likely to consistently give their animals preventatives.

Not only that, but according to a new study by Ceva, those clients have fewer issues with their cost and actual administration.

“Our research showed the most consistent users follow their veterinarian’s recommended steps for preventing the disease,” says Ceva’s senior director of veterinary services and pharmacovigilance, Charles Johnson, DVM. “They also value and rely on their veterinarian’s recommendations more than inconsistent and non-users.”

The study’s goal was to look at why consumers don’t use preventatives consistently. The results point to lack of education as the main culprit. Respondents reported they are often left uninformed about the risks and health issues their pet could experience by contracting the disease, and they are confused about how preventatives work in general.

The other findings of the study are:
• only 25 percent of dogs receive heartworm preventives on a regular basis;
• only 33 percent of users have purchased heartworm preventives during the past year; and
• one in four dog owners think they are giving a heartworm preventive, but are really just providing flea and tick protection.

“There is a direct correlation between the relationship with someone’s veterinarian and consistent and correct usage of heartworm prevention,” says I. Craig Prior, BVSc, CVJ, immediate past-president of Companion Animal Parasite Council’s (CAPC’s) board of directors. “Pet owners want to hear from their veterinarian about potential risks to their dogs’ health and well-being. They are looking to their veterinarian to provide recommendations on how they can best protect the health of their pets. This study shows when we are prepared to focus on education and serving as a trusted advisor, pets receive the care they need and deserve.”

According to the study, one of the ways to improve compliance is for veterinarians to help pet owners overcome concerns about side effects of the medication and how preventives work in the first place. It also found recommendations around specific brands of products can both cause and eliminate confusion among pet owners.

“The goal of this research was to understand why consumers don’t use these products consistently. We also sought to understand the hearts and minds of pet owners who are the most compliant in administering preventives,” says Karen Padgett, DVM, and president of Unfenced, the group that managed the study. “We found dramatic differences in the experiences of pet owners which translated directly into whether their pet was taking a heartworm preventives or not.”

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