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Veterinarian Technician November 2006 (Vol 27, No 11) Focus: Equine Medicine

Editorial: "Helping Pets Stay Healthy"

by Aggie Kiefer

    Years ago, we treated sick animals but spent very little time preventing health problems. Thankfully, today we recognize preventive care as a vital part of veterinary medicine. And because of our efforts in educating clients about the importance of prevention, they in turn are more willing to spend money to ensure their pet's well-being.

    Since animals cannot speak, we must be their voice. We need to use our skills and knowledge to educate owners about making changes in their pet's lifestyle before problems arise. We can educate clients about everything from vaccination protocols to resolving inappropriate behavior issues. Although giving "flea talks," showing a client how to brush a pet's teeth, or explaining the necessity of preanesthetic blood work is not glamorous, it is very important (sometimes critically) to the health and well-being of our patients and can ultimately be very rewarding for us as technicians.

    In October, I had the opportunity to visit with technicians who had been involved in the Hill's 2006 National PetFit Challenge. The program was designed to help pet owners become more aware of the dangers of pet obesity and learn how to return pets to a healthy weight. The goal was to have the veterinary staff work with clients to design a diet and exercise program, select a goal weight, and schedule health checkups. In an effort to inspire success, pets were enrolled in the PetFit Challenge (www.hillspet.com/Petfit/PetIndex.jsp), monitored, and subsequently compared with other pets. Some technicians even enrolled their own pets!

    At the final weigh-in and award ceremony, I learned that the owners deeply appreciated the efforts of the veterinary staff not only in educating them about the health risks of obesity to their pets but also in helping them to achieve results. Most owners admitted they were unaware of how dangerous obesity can be. That is why it is so important for us as technicians to educate owners and assist them in resolving pet health care issues. It is not enough for us to simply point out problems without offering a successful solution. Pets are counting on us not only to make them well but also to keep them that way.

    NEXT: Endocrine Emergency: Diabetic Ketoacidosis