How to Engage Pet Owners During Lyme Disease Awareness Month

Poised between spring's blossoming growth and summer's heat, May is an ideal time to recognize Lyme Disease Awareness Month. As your clients prepare to spend more time outdoors, heightened awareness and education about tick prevention can ensure they and their animal companions experience only happy memories—not vector-borne diseases (VBDs).

In the Lyme Light: Key Messaging for Pet Owners

Successful client engagement requires a combination of relevant messaging and thoughtful timing and delivery. Rather than trying to provide a comprehensive VBD resource, focus your messaging on just a few key points at a time. By providing impactful information in small quantities—and including strong calls to action—you'll be more likely to get your clients' attention and improve health outcomes for their pets. Some beneficial messaging points include:

  • Transmission: Highlight ticks as the vector for Lyme and other harmful vector-borne diseases such as anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis.

  • Significance: Emphasize that Lyme disease affects dogs and people, urging clients to protect their dogs and themselves.

  • Prevalence: Use Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) prevalence maps and data to provide locally specific stats. Educate dog owners about where their pets are most likely to encounter ticks.

  • Recognition: Explain differences in canine versus human Lyme presentation, including the lack of a bullseye rash, the likelihood for subclinical infection, and signs such as stiffness, fever, lethargy, and enlarged lymph nodes in dogs.

  • Prevention: Empower dog owners by making prevention easy, convenient, and accessible. Explain the value of a multipronged approach by discussing tick prevention, Lyme vaccination, regular VBD testing, and environmental management.

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Effective Education Strategies for Lyme Disease Awareness

Successful client engagement and awareness campaigns involve exposing pet owners to similar messaging across various platforms and inviting them to take action through active participation or prompts. Here are five ways to get your clients thinking about—and acting on—Lyme prevention.

1. Lobby Installations

Get clients talking with head-turning, tick-themed lobby displays. While ticks may be an unsightly addition to your decor, close-up encounters with tick images, Lyme statistics, and information about VBD risks may be enough to initiate client action—prompting them to ask about prevention before they enter the exam room.

2. Exam Room Conversations

The exam room is the prime place to discuss a pet's individualized Lyme disease risk factors and preventive strategies. CAPC parasite prevalence maps are excellent visual tools for illustrating local and national VBD risk and attaining client buy-in for VBD testing. Questions about the pet's lifestyle can help drive compliance by determining the most convenient preventive type for each pet and client.

3. Digital Communications

Engage clients online through your website and social media channels by presenting targeted content about Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Use various media, including videos, blog posts, and graphics that spur client action, inviting veterinary clients to check their pet's preventive supply, administer their pet's preventive, or participate in a fun quiz. Have your team create videos on how to perform various at-home preventive tasks, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at VBD testing. Text and email messages can serve as dose reminders and link clients to your online pharmacy or pet portal for easy refills.

4. Tick Prevention Games

Create a monthlong tick prevention awareness event with weekly challenges shared on your social media channels. Clients earn points or win awards based on participation in various events such as:

  • Checking for ticks

  • Creating or showing off their dosing reminder system

  • Displaying environmental management such as removing leafy debris and cutting the grass

  • Administering their pet's tick preventive

  • Removing a tick using proper techniques

Increase participation by rewarding participants and winners with free doses of tick preventives, discounted VBD testing, or passes to dog-friendly outdoor events.

5. Practical Giveaways

Provide clients with useful tools and resources such as a laminated pocket-sized card showing how to check pets for ticks, including a body chart with common tick bite locations and steps for safe removal. Use a key ring to attach the card to a tick remover tool bearing your practice logo.

Discuss Other Vector-Borne Diseases with Pet Owners

Lyme may get the spotlight during May, but don't forget to educate clients about other VBDs, too. In addition to advising clients about anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis signs and pathology, reassure them that routine VBD testing screens their pet for all three tick-borne threats. When possible, include clients in the VBD testing process by performing benchtop testing in the exam room. The act of waiting for test results, viewing the finished result with the veterinary team, and comparing their pet's result to a control or positive image creates a tangible memory that may help reinforce at-home compliance throughout the year.

Lyme Disease Awareness Month is a great time to focus your client education efforts on parasite prevention and VBD testing. Engaging pet owners with various targeted, action-inspiring messages and activities about tick prevention and VBD awareness can be an effective and fun way to drive compliance, bond clients to your practice, and improve pet health.

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Sarah Rumple
Owner, Chief Creative Officer of Rumpus Writing and Editing

Sarah Rumple is an award-winning veterinary writer and editor. Since 2011, her work has focused on pet health/behavior and veterinary practice management topics. Her clients include individual veterinary practice owners, national corporations, nonprofit associations, media companies, consultants, and others. Learn more at

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