10 Key Messaging Points When Talking to Clients

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Each dog and cat will need a specifically tailored plan for the pet and client. Although there are basic steps to follow, some pets will respond to one approach and others to another. Keep in mind that diagnosing allergic skin diseases can be a long process that can become frustrating and confusing for clients.

  1. Be clear about goals: The goal is to bring the pet relief as soon as possible, which often requires clearing any secondary infections that may be present, possibly even before the source of the allergy is determined.
  2. Be clear about the costs associated with diagnosis and treatment. Emphasize that altering strategies to meet the client’s current capacities does not mean substandard care. Offer referral as an option and allow the client to make an informed decision.
  3. Provide timelines for clients. Determining the best long-term treatment plan for an individual patient may take 2–4 mo. Be clear about the stages of diagnosis/treatment and what needs to happen concurrently.
  4. Let clients know that management of the allergy is for the pet’s life and medication adjustments will likely be needed over time. Alert the client that flares are not uncommon, even if their pet is well managed.
  5. Strive for empathetic and nonjudgmental communication so that clients feel comfortable expressing concerns, bringing up constraints, and asking questions if they do not understand something. Encourage clients to be active partners in determining the health of their pets.
  6. Recognize that clients may suffer from information overload and become overwhelmed during appointments. Provide clear written instructions and repetition, and if necessary, take a break so they can process the information.
  7. Ask the client how they prefer to receive information, for example, verbally, written, or on video. Provide several options and always send home written instructions they can refer to later.
  8. Precise wording and label instructions are keys to good compliance and secondary infection control. For example, to maintain an adequate serum concentration level of cefpodoxime, be sure to say, “Administer one tablet by mouth at the same time once every 24 hours,” instead of saying, “Administer one tablet daily.”
  9. Praise clients for compliance when they bring their pets for rechecks, even if the improvement is slight.
  10. Be sure to talk to clients about ongoing monitoring, like blood work, depending on what medications their animal is receiving.

The 2023 AAHA Management of Allergic Skin Diseases in Dogs and Cats Guidelines are generously supported by Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Merck Animal Health, and Zoetis.

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