The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) wants pet owners to know that their veterinarian is a critical factor in the
parasite prevention equation and the best source of information on local parasites. In keeping with this goal, the organization
has redesigned and relaunched its consumer website,
http://PetsandParasites.org/, as part of a larger initiative to reach pet owners being unveiled this month.
A key component of the site is a set of parasite prevalence maps that pet owners can view to get information on their specific
geographic area. "Our unique parasite prevalence maps provide localized statistics about diseases that affect dogs and cats
in consumers' backyards, and we update them monthly," says Christopher Carpenter, DVM, MBA, executive director of CAPC.
The prevalence maps on both the consumer site and CAPC's veterinarian-focused site,
http://CAPCVet.org/, are intended to remind consumers to be vigilant about protecting their pets from parasites and help drive clinic visits.
"Every time we post new data, veterinarians have an opportunity to engage their clients through Facebook, Twitter, client
e-mail blasts and other marketing vehicles," Carpenter says. "People respond to and appreciate it when experts share pertinent
information, especially in social media settings. We hope veterinarians leverage the maps and other CAPC initiatives to strengthen
client relationships and consistently 'tap consumers on the shoulder' with facts that underscore the risk of parasitic disease
that exists everywhere."
CAPC launched its first parasite forecast in April, focusing on heartworm, with additional forecasts planned for the upcoming
seasons. The organization participated in a satellite media tour in April to draw awareness to the parasite forecast and website.
Data show that 70 percent of pet owners go online to make pet care and related purchasing decisions without leaving their
home, according to CAPC. "CAPC wants to make sure that veterinarians are part of the virtual conversation by providing unbiased,
expert opinions that persuade consumers to consult their pets' doctors first," the organization states.