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Veterinary Recommendations Being Disregarded
By: David Milner

A study recently commissioned by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has revealed that veterinary healthcare recommendations are often disregarded by pet owners in the United States.

Among the findings of the researchers who conducted the study are that only:

  • 48 percent of dogs living in areas in which heartworm disease is prevalent receive medication that will prevent the illness
  • 35 percent of cats and dogs that have serious dental disease have received treatment for it
  • 7 percent of dogs and cats diagnosed with a condition treatable with a therapeutic diet receive the food recommended for them for the suggested amount of time
Pet owners bear much of the responsibility, but according to the researchers, "a significant amount of noncompliance (with veterinary guidelines) is due to the fact that no recommendation is made to the client."

"Too often veterinarians allow assumptions about a clientís ability to pay for pet care to influence their medical recommendations," said AAHA President Link Wellborn, DVM. "The study clearly shows that the cost of a procedure, recommended diet or other treatment isnít a significant factor limiting the care that clients choose for their pets."

"This is much more than an economic issue," AAHA Executive Director John Albers, DVM stated. "Itís a quality of care issue."

To conduct the study, the researchers collected data from medical records of almost 1,400 dogs and cats throughout the United States.

"The data...validate the anecdotal evidence that has been building for several years," said Hillís Pet Nutrition Director of Professional Affairs Beth Leininger, DVM. "All veterinary practitioners can benefit from reviewing the data, assessing the compliance process within their own practices and building a roadmap for improved patient care."

Sources
American Animal Hospital Association
Press release, April 8, 2003
AAHA Study Shows That Major Barriers to Compliance Exist in Veterinary Practices Nationwide
American Animal Hospital Association
www.aahanet.org
Hill's Pet Nutrition
www.hillspet.com/index.jsp
© 2003 Animal News Center, Inc.