Preventative medication is a topic that has changed dramatically in the last 10 years due to the introduction of dozens of new products. Some of these products are new formulations, whereas others are ‘new’ but like other pre-existing products. With the influx of products, how do you know which ones to use in your practice?
When making decisions about what products to use, there are a few things we should consider. The first thing we should ask ourselves is what does the pet need. The factors that are significant to preventatives are:
- What does the pet need in its specific environment?
- What are the common transmissible diseases in your area?
- Does the pet travel and to what regions?
- Does the pet take oral medication well?
- Does the pet have a skin condition that makes topical medication potentially ineffective?
Not every pet is going to be best served by the same medication. However, it’s expensive and unrealistic to stock all the sizes of all the effective medications. The ideal situation is to pick the medication that is most effectively going to represent the dominant population in your clinic. Because the number of products is so limited for felines, we will focus on canines in this instance – although the same principles apply.
Consider the Majority of Needs in Your Clinic
For canine patients, consider what is on the market to choose from today. We have combination flea/tick, heartworm/flea, single heartworm, and flea/tick with a range of intestinal parasites covered in some of them. Looking ahead, it’s likely manufacturers will produce a quadruple combination product that covers flea/tick/heartworm/intestinal parasites. In the United States, there is no environment that is devoid of fleas, where ticks aren’t a factor, and absent of heartworm. The maps posted on the American Heartworm Society website show that heartworm has been diagnosed in all 48 contiguous states, and the Companion Animal Parasite Council anticipates an increase in tick-borne illnesses as well.
The frequency of heartworm diagnosis specifically has increased in formerly lower incidence areas due to the high mobility of pets in the country today. Whether it is people moving across the country or the relocation of pets due to disasters, unfortunately with the mobility comes the increased spread of infectious disease. That means, in virtually all parts of the country, you need to look for an effective combination of flea, tick, intestinal parasite, and heartworm control that meets the typical demands of your clientele. Once fleas, ticks, and heartworms are covered, the product lines will also take care of roundworms and hookworms. Some will also deal with whipworms and tapeworms, so that needs to be considered as well in terms of the ideal product. The beautiful thing is today you can carry a two-product line that covers whipworms, hookworms, tapeworms, roundworms, heartworms, fleas, and ticks, with a very high safety profile. If you were in practice 20 years ago, frankly, that’s amazing.
What About Special Cases?
Once you’ve chosen your product line of at least two products that will cover the necessary parasites, consider the clients who have other needs. How much do you stock, and how do you deal with clients that come into your practice using products that you don’t stock? Because of a clinic’s limited space, it’s a good idea to consider utilizing an online pharmacy.
We have all come in contact with unethical online pharmacies that do not properly follow prescription law. With today’s track and trace programs from the distributors, they can verify the unethical pharmacies who did not purchase the product through proper distribution lines, and the manufacturers will not honor any warranties. It’s important to share this information with clients and explain to them that a few dollars saved aren’t worth much if the manufacturer refuses to honor a warranty should there ever be a problem.
There is no way to convince clients that purchasing from online pharmacies is a bad idea, nor should you have to. Consider working with a legitimate online pharmacy such as Vetsource that follows proper storage and prescription laws. This can be a huge asset to your clinic and bottom line. You can set up a relationship so that you can be certain that your client is getting the proper dose, prescribed to meet the laws of your state without expanding your in-house stock. This means you can offer your clientele all of the quality products on the market without having the overhead issues of stocking inventory. This alleviates your stocking issues, overhead issues, and the quality control issues of who your client is getting medication from when you just write a prescription and have no idea where it’s filled. This helps us to protect our clients and patients without complicating your inventory management.
Ultimately, the perfect arrangement is up to you. Review the five questions outlined in the beginning, then evaluate the majority of your client’s needs and select two ideal products that will meet most (if not all) of those needs. Then expand your inventory by partnering with a legitimate veterinary online pharmacy to offer your clients the full range of products available on the market, all while still sharing in the pharmacy profits. It is the perfect combination for a win/win for everyone.
Dr. Jennifer Peters is a board-certified specialist in small animal practice and has been in the veterinary industry for over 20 years. In that time, she has also instructed and has made education a huge part of her clinical work. With her years of practice experience, Dr. Peters has passionately pursued getting accurate and helpful information to clients.
This article first published in the Q2 2019 edition of "The Veterinary Clinic Journal".