Compliance issues and Pet Owners

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If at first you don’t succeed, then do what your veterinarian told you to do.” I found this quote on a T-shirt recently and it made me think of an issue I deal with every day on my job. That issue is compliance. How many of you as pet owners have given all medications or treatments exactly as prescribed by your veterinarian? I am sure most have been guilty at some point of doing the contrary. Compliance is a struggle with many pet owners. Unfortunately it can be one of the main reasons for treatment failures in pets. Many drug companies recognize this and strive to produce products that can help. This may include long lasting injectable antibiotics, heartworm prevention, long lasting flea products etc. So why are pet owners non- compliant? Here are some of the most popular reasons I have heard below.


We live in a fast paced society and often we fill our schedules with more than we can handle. Between our children, jobs, schoolwork, and hobbies, we hardly have time to do anything. So adding a pet that requires medical treatment greatly adds to the stress of life. This results in medications given at their incorrect frequencies and length of time. This may result either in a longer recovery  or failure in treatment.


Sometimes being compliant may mean returning for recheck visits. Recheck visits may require additional fees for the recheck exam, repeat laboratory tests, other diagnostic tests such as x-rays, or medications. Some owners rather not be compliant if it involves spending additional money, especially if the pet’s condition is improved

Aggressive or difficult pet

I am sure many of you have pets who are very nice. If you come at them with eye or ear drops, or try to shove a pill down their throat then you may see their evil side. Even if they are not attempting to bite, your pet may show inappropriate behaviors such as eliminating or vocalizing to show you their displeasure. So the typical response is to give up trying to avoid stress on the pet and you.

Improvement in signs

This is probably the number one reason pet owners are non- compliant. How many of you have stopped giving a medical treatment as soon as you see improvement in your pet’s condition? This is usually discovered by myself when an owner informs me they have left over antibiotics from a previous infection. Stopping medications before the prescribed time can lead to recurrence of signs or the condition not being resolved.

So do any of the reasons above fit why you are non-compliant? Hopefully these tips below can help you with this.

Injectable meds or sustained release drugs.

If you know that you may have a problem giving medications to your pet for whatever reason, ask your veterinarian if there is an alternative. As I mentioned previously, pharmaceutical companies are aware of compliance issues with pet owners. Therefore more drugs are becoming available in a sustained drug release form. Most are injectables, but there are some oral drugs that are making their way on the market as well. Some examples include the injectable antibiotic Convenia which one injection last for 2 weeks, and the injectable heartworm injection Proheart 6  which lasts for 6 months. There is also Bravecto, an oral flea and tick preventative that protects for three months.

Boarding your pet

If you take your pet to a veterinary clinic that has a boarding facility, then you may be able have your pet medically boarded. This means veterinary technicians are available to medicate your pets when they need it. Many of them are also skilled at medicating difficult and aggressive animals . So if you have difficulty administering medication to your pets, then this is a great option for you to consider.

Ask for reminders

Veterinary clinics are getting more sophisticated with how they send reminders to their clients. Until recent years, the main source has been postcards. These tend not to be as effective  and the postcards may end up in your junk mail pile. Now you can opt in to either receive email and text messages reminders at many clinics. I would strongly recommend these options if you are forgetful. Also why not set reminders yourself? In the age of the smartphone, there are many phone apps which makes it easy to set reminders for whatever you need to. This includes when to medicate your pets.

Consider the long term when it comes to money

Regards to money remember you are looking at the long term benefit of your pet. In the short term you may have to spend money but in the long run being compliant will save money. If the problems recur, they can be much more difficult to treat the second time around therefore being more expensive.


I am hopeful that the following tips will help you become a more compliant owner. Compliance is very important to help your pet be as healthy as it can be. Also when relevant discuss preventative care with your veterinarian to help minimize illness in your pets.

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