Partnership launches new preventive health program

Editors note: An earlier version of this article on NEWStat originally reported that the Partnership for Preventive Pet Health was changing its name to Partners for Healthy Pets. In reality, Partners for Healthy Pets is a program of Partnership for Preventive Pet Health. This article reflects the correct information.
Move over, preventable diseases: A new player is joining the fight for preventive pet health.

The Partnership for Preventive Pet Health is announcing its plans to rollout Partners for Healthy Pets, a program designed to provide support for the veterinary healthcare team.

The group plans to officially unveil the new program at the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) convention in August.

The Partners for Healthy Pets program is a result of the collaborative efforts of Partnership members to emphasize preventive pet health. The Partnership is an alliance of more than 20 leading veterinary associations and animal health companies 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 chronic conditions, these organizations have teamed up to ensure that pets receive the care they need.

In early May 2012, Banfield released its 2012 State of Pet Health Report. The report showed that chronic conditions, especially obesity, are on the rise across the United States over the past five years.

According to the Banfield report, overweight pets and obesity, arthritis, kidney disease, thyroid disease, and heart disease are all on the rise.

"Over the past five years, many chronic conditions have continued to increase, in some instances, at an alarming rate," Banfield Chief Medical Officer Jeffrey Klausner, DVM, wrote in the report.

The Partnership’s new program, Partners for Healthy Pets, is designed to address the issue by giving veterinarians tools they can use to increase preventive healthcare for pets.

The Partnership says it envisions the Partners for Healthy Pets website as the "go to" site for veterinary professionals, a place where practitioners can find a suite of professional tools that can be repurposed for webinars, seminars and presentations, PowerPoint and/or print.

According to the Partnership, it plans to launch five tools at the AVMA Convention in August: The Opportunity, Implementing Preventive Healthcare Guidelines, Communicate the Value of Preventive Healthcare, Internet Marketing and Social Media, and Preventive Healthcare Plans.

The Opportunity, the program’s flagship tool, is designed to improve communication between pet owner and veterinary professionals by increasing pet owner understanding of preventive care.

One of the reasons clients often overlook preventive pet health is due to confusion as to what is actually best for their pet, the Partnership says. Though pet owners and veterinarians are often on the same page in wanting what is best for the pet, communication challenges can lead to a gap in understanding.

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

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

Participation in the full Partners for Healthy Pets program is free and voluntary.

According to data from the Partnership, 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.

The Partnership says 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 Partners for Healthy Pets.
For more information on the rise in preventable diseases, read more from NEWStat.