Summer presents seemingly endless opportunities for pet owner education. Spring and summer are known as the “veterinary busy season,” for good reason. Not only do owners have more flexible schedules, pets have more opportunities to get into mischief, and often find themselves needing veterinary care. Educating pet owners about common summer hazards, health risks, and pitfalls can help keep your patients safe and sound. But, between summer vacation schedules and an overbooked schedule, you likely have little time to plan a content calendar.
We get it, and we’re here to help. Here are 10 topics your clients need to know this summer—use them as inspiration for social media posts, emails, newsletters, and blogs.
#1: Flea and tick prevention
You may feel like you talk about flea and tick prevention all summer—and you should. This topic tops the list, since these pesky parasites cause so many problems. And, no matter how many times you explain the importance of veterinary-recommended products, you will still have clients ask, “So, can I put the stuff I bought from Amazon on my cat?”
Pro tip: Your clients know fleas and ticks are a nuisance, but they may not know the serious health risks they pose. Structure your communications in a “Did you know” format, such as, “Did you know that ticks carry life-threatening diseases?” Or, “Did you know that fleas can ingest enough blood to cause anemia?”
#2: Heat safety
Many clients think that since wild animals live outside, pets can also handle the heat. But, their little purse pooch with the flat face won’t fare well in 90-degree sunshine. Spread the word about heat safety—ensuring pets always have shade and water, their time outdoors is limited, and they are recognized as a high-risk breed, and—it goes without saying—never, ever leaving pets in a parked car.
#3: July Fourth safety
With pool parties, barbecues, and fireworks, July Fourth is the epitome of summer fun. Pet-loving clients will inevitably want their BFF (best furry friend) by their side, and may overlook subtle, and even obvious, pet hazards. A pool party can end in disaster if a pet falls in while party guests are distracted by a rousing game of cornhole. Too many barbecues are followed by a pet with pancreatitis, garbage gut, or foreign body cases. And fireworks—well, see below. They deserve their own category.
#4: Noise aversion
Many pet owners think pets are normally afraid of thunderstorms and fireworks, but while a little apprehension is not a big deal, severe noise aversion can lead to significant mental trauma or injuries. And, mild aversion can escalate year after year until a pet has a full-blown panic attack every time thunder booms or a car backfires.
Pro tip: You should ideally begin coaching pet owners about noise-averse dogs several months before thunderstorm and fireworks season, to give them time to counter condition their pet. This year, focus on identifying pets who may require sedation, and begin education early next year.
#5: Importance of vaccination
Many pet owners choose to board their pets instead of taking them on vacations and road trips. Remind clients that their pet needs vaccinations to stay healthy during their staycation, and that most facilities require proof of up-to-date vaccinations upon booking or arrival.
#6: Travel tips
Pet owners who decide to take their pets when they hit the open road, or fly the friendly skies, may not realize that pet travel requirements can be complicated. Help clients understand they must research airline travel requirements, especially if pets will travel internationally. They should also understand that they must acclimate their pet prior to a car trip, and they have options for sedation and anti-nausea medication for anxious or car-sick pets.
#7: Water safety
People flock to the water during the summer heat, whether the coast, a lake, or small backyard pond. And, all dogs love the water, and naturally know how to swim, right? Wrong, of course. Pet owners should be aware that bodies of water pose a number of hazards, including fish hooks, salt water toxicity, blue-green algae, and drowning. Emphasize the importance of slowly introducing dogs to shallow water, closely supervising them, and never allowing them to drink salt water.
#8: Importance of microchipping
Although pets can become lost any time of year, pet owners may not realize that summer is prime escape time. Pets spend more time outside during warm weather, and are more likely to slip through a loose gate, or jump a fence. Cookouts, July Fourth celebrations, and picnics also present escape opportunities. Let clients know that microchip placement is fast and easy, can be performed during their pet’s wellness appointment, and provides lifelong peace of mind.
Pro tip: Feature successful owner-pet reunion stories on your social media and blog to illustrate the importance of permanent identification.
#9: Camping and hiking with pets
Go to any campground or hiking trail, and you are sure to see plenty of dogs. Some people adopt four-legged family members with the single goal of taking them on backpacking trips. However, they may not consider hazards along the trail, such as snakes, bears, and steep drop-offs. Let pet owners know to always keep their dog on a leash. For those in snake territory, discuss the importance of snake avoidance training, vaccination, and recognizing envenomation signs.
#10: Back to school
As summer comes to a close, everyone’s minds will be on school. Schedule changes, fall sports, and general busyness can mean that pets are often overlooked. Remind your clients that pets are creatures of habit, and will appreciate gradual changes—as will everyone else in the household—plus a few minutes of one-on-one time after the kids board the bus. And, warn owners to safeguard their pets from the sugar-free gum, chocolate, and other food hazards that inevitably make their way into backpacks and lunch boxes.
Devising a content calendar is half the battle, and this hopefully gives you a good starting point. But, if you are simply too busy to write content, call on the pros. Our Rumpus team can handle blogs, social media, and any other writing needs—reach out to learn how we can help!