Partnership moves forward with fresh face

After a year of working in a collaborative effort for better pet health, the Partnership for Preventive Pet Health is moving forward with a new face.

Formerly called the Partnership for Preventive Pet Health, the group will announce it is resurfacing as Partners for Healthy Pets at the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) convention in August.

Partners for Healthy Pets is an alliance of more than 20 leading veterinary associations and animal health companies that is committed to a vision of improved overall health for pets.

Members include the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), the AVMA, and other industry leaders and associations.

In light of declining veterinary visits and statistics showing an increase in preventable diseases, these organizations have teamed up to ensure that pets receive the care they need.

Partners for Healthy Pets plans to launch a variety of tools and resources designed to promote preventive care visits to the clinic while providing the veterinary healthcare team with skills to make visits more valuable.

The group calls its program "The Opportunity", which it describes as a chance to close the lack of understanding between pet owner and veterinary professionals by improving pet owner understanding of preventive care.

The program consists of staff and client surveys that identify gaps of understanding between client and veterinary professional.

By exploring the differences in understanding, Partners for Healthy Pets says it hopes that practices can work to better communicate to pet owners the benefits of preventive healthcare, thereby bringing more pets back into practices.

To participate, clinics must do the following:

1. Register and introduce the program to the healthcare team.

2. Invite each member of the team to participate in the online survey.

3. Invite clients to participate in the online pet owner survey.

Participation in the program is free and voluntary.

According to Partners for Healthy Pets, 50 percent of veterinarians had fewer patient visits during 2010 versus 2009. Twenty-four percent of pet owners believe that routine checkups are unnecessary, while 56 percent of pet owners reported that their veterinarians do not clearly explain when they should bring their pets in for various procedures or tests.

Partners for Healthy Pets say that the decrease in regular visits is leading to an increase in preventable and treatable illnesses in dogs and cats. This includes diabetes, ear infections, hookworm, and dental disease, which now affects almost 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats over 3 years of age.

Veterinary professionals can learn more or sign up with the Partners for Healthy Pets.