As a specialist veterinarian, I think it’s extremely important to recognize how often dermatologic cases are seen in general practice. Making sure veterinarians in general practice feel confident in practicing dermatology is actually one of the driving forces behind The Derm Vet! 

In episode 78 of The Derm Vet Podcast, I welcomed  Dr. Adam Christman, DVM, MBA to discuss dermatology in general practice, when and why clients can feel frustrated with the management of their pet’s dermatologic issues.

So, how often do GPs see dermatologic disease? 

In Dr. Christman’s experience, he would rank dermatology cases at the very top of his list. Especially recently, pet parents are noticing dermatologic issues more and more with their pets because they are home more often to recognize it. Therefore, they are scheduling more appointments to treat these issues.

In fact, in 2020 Nationwide® reported atopic dermatitis as their number one claim for pet insurance, and otitis externa came in at number two! This was not an unusual occurrence. Dermatologic issues rank at the top of the list year after year, with 2021 following suit. 

When dermatology occupies the number one spot on your “most seen cases” list, you have to take a closer look at the challenges that need to be addressed regarding treatment and management. 

What are the common frustrations we witness from clients, and how can general practitioners address those?

  • My pet is getting more agitated! When will I see improvement? 

Setting client expectations when dealing with derm issues can be a huge difference-maker. It is so important for both general practitioners and specialists to set the bar for management over finding a “cure”. Dermatology is usually an ongoing issue. There is no quick fix, and the sooner the client understands that, the better! If they have a mindset rooted in ongoing management with some possible trial and error, they are less likely to feel defeated. 

  • What can I do to control my pet’s itch?

This is Dr. Christman’s most asked question on Tik Tok (and by the way, if you’re not following him there, you are missing out)! Every pet parent of an itchy dog or cat wishes there was a magic potion that cured all itch forever and ever. Wouldn’t that be nice? Medications can be expensive. Treatment plans can be very time-consuming. Life happens, and baths get missed. Medications sometimes need to be altered according to the pet’s progress (or lack thereof). This is a long road for your clients!

So, how can they control their pet’s itch? With patience and finding a treatment plan that realistically works for their lifestyle and addresses their pet’s needs. 

  • There is so much information out there! How do I know what is right?

Everyone has an opinion. If your client has been searching the internet or asking for friends and family to chime in on what worked for their pet, chances are their brains are overloaded by the time they go to see their veterinarian. 

This is the perfect opportunity to explain the importance of proper diagnostics. It’s an investment that will discover the best route for their pet as an individual, and something they can’t find on Google. 

How can GPs stress the importance of pet insurance for itchy pets?

Pet insurance is such an amazing tool for derm cases to be managed over time… but the catch is, it has to be utilized before the pet develops clinical signs, or their derm issue will be considered a pre-existing condition. 

GPs are key in setting the foundation for being able to get insurance support for derm issues (or for any issues that arise)! Dr. Christman believes that setting this foundation is a team effort. Everyone on staff should have an understanding of the importance of pet insurance, how it can greatly help clients in the long run (especially financially), and when to mention it during an appointment. He says it should be as important of a talking point as core vaccines!

In the episode of The Derm Vet Podcast, he challenges his colleagues to make it the first talking point on your list during an appointment. You want to have plenty of time to cover all of the benefits of having pet insurance, and not be limited to cramming it into the last few minutes of the appointment. 

For more information about pet insurance and how you can ramp up your derm game as a GP, listen to the full episode. Be sure to subscribe to The Derm Vet Podcast to get first notification of new episodes and to help me reach more veterinary professionals!

This episode of the podcast was sponsored by Nationwide®.