This happened to me a few weeks ago at work and I didn't want to share it immediately because I wasn't really sure if it was "post-worthy"-- well now I think it is!!
A client came in to purchase heartworm prevention for her dog but I informed her that the heartworm test was past due and we really needed to do it ASAP. I discussed the prices and several different prevention options with her as she just wanted to get the medication. I assume most pet owners know what heartworms are but if you don't: heartworm larva are transmitted to our pets (not us!) by infected mosquitoes (so even an "inside only" dog can get them because I've been bitten inside my home by one before) and when the larva gets into the bloodstream it travels through the vessels to the heart where it lives and grows into an adult heartworm. These worms can wreak havoc on our poor pets heart and lungs--they can even die from this nasty parasite. Symptoms include: coughing, exercise intolerance, shortness of breath, heart disease and even bacterial infections from the adult heartworms. The saving grace with this awful bug is that with an inexpensive once a month medication you can prevent this horrible disease. The medication is used to kill off baby heartworms that mosquitoes inject into our pets--this way they never grow up into adult heartworms and cause all the above problems. Starting prevention at a young age of 8 weeks is the best way to ensure your pet never has to deal with this disease. We recommend using a monthly preventative because 1. there is no cure treatment for cats, you just have to wait for the adult worms to die off and hope the heart (in cats they affect the lungs more) can handle the stress and 2. the treatment for dogs its extremely expensive and you have to be very careful as it can be harmful if not administered properly and without the proper precautions.
If you've ever been to a vet (a good vet) they should be asking you if your pets are on heartworm and flea medications. If the pets aren't they should be trying to get you to put them on it. Heartworm disease can be fatal and it is just so heartbreaking to lose a pet to this disease since it can so easily be prevented.
That being said, after I discussed all the options and prices with the client, she stopped to think for a moment and then these words came out of her mouth: "Is heartworms really a serious thing or is that something you guys just exaggerate?"
For a second I just looked back at her completely confused and thought, did she really just ask me that? What the hell???
Quickly I collected myself and replied back very politely, "It absolutely is a serious thing! It can also be fatal and that is why we make such a big deal about it." I explained to her we would never exaggerate something just to get her to purchase medication. We pride ourselves on being a very progressive small animal clinic, there are some vaccines we don't recommend depending on the pet/owner lifestyle and risk status...why would we recommend medication that is unnecessary? I discussed the disease with her and gave her a few handouts to read over. I'm pretty sure she still doesn't believe me but she purchased the heartworm and flea combo chewable tablet (trifexis). After she left I looked just like the polar bear in the photo.
Now don't get me wrong, if you don't know about heartworms that's ok. I'm not ragging on her for not knowing that much about them but for thinking we would ever try to get her to do something unnecessary. But the thing that got me was I'm trying to help you protect your pet and you are asking me if I'm exaggerating. I take my job very seriously, especially stuff like this. I hope I wasn't being a jerk, I never said anything negatively to her, just educated her on the information.
However I don't think she believed me either way.
PLEASE!!! Keep your pets on heartworm prevention!!