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Taking Care of Senior Pets: Communication is Key

October 31, 2022

Why communication is key to taking care of senior pets
Tactics to open lines of communication with owners of senior pets to help you effectively plan their management.

As pets age, their health and the kind of care they require evolves. Supporting clients through this process is key to helping them give their beloved pets a good quality of life in their senior years.

senior_pets_sidebarOpen a dialogue about the aging process with your client.
First, it’s important to make your client aware of the typical aging process for pets. Open the conversation by asking some questions about signs of age-related conditions that your client may have noticed. This is an effective way for you to gather clues on the health of the animal, as well as apply your client’s feedback to explain the aging process and how it may affect their pet now and in the future.

Educating your client on issues to monitor can help them feel empowered in supporting their pet as they age naturally. Explaining why an aging pet may need certain treatments can help you to then work together with your client in creating a plan for preventative as well as supportive treatment. When handled with care, inviting questions can help set the tone for the rest of the appointment and support in future planning.

Let them know what to look out for.
Ask if your clients have witnessed a change in their pet’s mobility. This is a simple thing for them to monitor and an important diagnostic differential as a declining ability to move, walk, run, or jump can also be a sign of pain or discomfort. Ask if their pet is walking more slowly or shifting their weight differently between limbs. Do they recoil when the client attempts to move or lift them? Questions like this can help you to gain a fuller picture of the animal’s typical health at home, so that you’re not solely reliant on a single encounter’s physical examination.

Another key indicator of an aging pet with potentially chronic conditions is a change in breathing. Even if there are no immediate signs of respiratory distress during the appointment, asking questions can help your client understand what to watch for. Does their pet seem breathless or pant more than usual? Are there situations that make them cough or wheeze? Discussing these signifiers will help your client to monitor their pet’s health more closely.

Work collaboratively to monitor any behavioral changes.
Asking your client targeted questions about behavioral changes, including appetite, can invite them to offer up insightful observations about their animal’s day-to-day life. By opening the conversation with care and continuing through with friendly but targeted questions, you can work together with your client to effectively detect changes that could indicate early illness, discomfort, or a need for more serious intervention.

Remind clients about the importance of regular appointments.
Regular check-ups are critical to the long-term health of aging pets. With Rapport® by Covetrus® you can automate the reminder process, send client communications, and open lines of communication. Rapport can also help you to track insights from pet parents through online pet portals that store all the information about an animal’s health; because these portals are accessible by the client as well as the vet, they help to extend the in-clinic dialogue and make it easy for clients to add notes in between visits.

The aging process can be a sensitive topic to broach with owners of senior pets, but strategic communication can help to strengthen client relationships and establish treatment plans.

Talk to your account manager today for guidance on how Covetrus products, technologies, and services can support you and your practice in helping meet the needs of clients and their animals.

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