Breed-specific wellness care
In our own industry, advancements provide many exciting opportunities to offer clients new, better and different, from acupuncture and complementary medicine to laser therapy and stem-cell treatments. One of the most appealing new ideas is breed-specific wellness.
Veterinarians are changing clients' perceptions of wellness care through breed-specific programs. When clients perceive that wellness care is limited to vaccinations and parasite control and then see those services offered at discount prices elsewhere, they have little incentive to select a veterinary care provider for any other reason than cost.Breed-specific wellness is different. It helps clients see wellness care as "designer" medicine driven by the unique breed risks of their pets. These days, pet owners interested in learning more about their breeds turn to sources such as the American Kennel Club (AKC), online forums, dog clubs, breeders and dog park acquaintances for information. While most people consider veterinarians animal-health authorities, clients don't necessarily see us as a "go-to" source for breed information. Offering breed-specific healthcare services can help us position ourselves squarely in the middle of this groundswell of interest.
The concept of breed risks is not new. What is new is the idea of building wellness programs around specific breeds. Some veterinary practice owners have already begun.
Breed, disease pattern
In the 1990s, little information was readily available to help veterinarians interested in pursuing breed-specific medicine, Cloud says. However, by 1999, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) published Dr. Lowell Ackerman's book, The Genetic Connection: A Guide to Health Problems in Purebred Dogs. A decade later, even though most veterinarians are aware of the risk of hip dysplasia in large breeds, Cloud says the idea of breed-specific care is just taking off.
He reports that the most challenging part of implementing a breed-specific care program is the time constraint of organizing a practice around it. The idea of breed-specific risks is new to most clients, so it takes time to explain it to them in the exam room. A slower economy may be an opportune time to talk to clients about it, Cloud says.
However, there is great potential to help more pets with breed-specific wellness screenings. He practices breed-specific wellness informally now and sees clients' readiness to embrace the concept. The next step is to formalize breed-specific wellness care and create supporting client materials.