Millions of Pets Fail to Receive Proper Healthcare

New Consumer Pet Health Education Campaign

Encourages Regular Veterinary Visits



Apr 09, 2002, 01:00 ET from Merial

    DULUTH, Ga., April 9 /PRNewswire/ -- According to the American Veterinary
 Medical Association, 27 million dogs and cats do not visit the veterinarian on
 a regular basis, leaving them unprotected against many preventable diseases
 and infections.  With the arrival of spring and summer, cats and dogs will be
 spending more time outside, leaving them exposed to serious health threats
 posed by fleas, ticks and mosquitoes, including Lyme disease, heartworm
 disease and flea allergy dermatitis.
     Pet owners cannot ignore the threats facing their dogs and cats, as one
 tick or mosquito bite can lead to serious health problems.  According to the
 latest survey on heartworm infestation incidence, there is a significant
 number of heartworm cases reported nationwide.
     To help educate pet owners about the importance of visiting the
 veterinarian regularly, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and
 Merial, manufacturer of FRONTLINE(R) and HEARTGARD(R)*, have launched the "For
 Healthy Pets, Visit the Vet(TM)" consumer education campaign.  The yearlong
 initiative is designed to encourage pet owners to visit their veterinarian on
 a regular basis, so their pets can receive the best life-enhancing preventive
 medicine and required vaccinations.
     Marty Becker, DVM and veterinary contributor to ABC-TV's "Good Morning
 America," explains, "Because we know the majority of pet owners treat their
 pet like a member of their family, they need to ensure its health and
 longevity by establishing a relationship with their veterinarian as they would
 establish a relationship with their pediatrician for their child.  The
 veterinarian can help answer their questions about their pet's susceptibly to
 these preventable diseases and help them decide on the best method of
 protection for their individual pet needs."
     Being a responsible pet owner means more than just loving your pets.  As
 part of the "For Healthy Pets, Visit the Vet" campaign, an information kit has
 been developed to better prepare pet owners for their visit to the
 veterinarian.  To receive a healthy pets package, including a list of
 questions to ask the veterinarian, veterinary visit record keeper,
 informational brochures and product coupons, pet owners can call 866-ASK-VETS
 or visit http://www.healthypet.com.  Additionally, FRONTLINE and HEARTGARD
 will sponsor local market events across the country to further educate pet
 owners about general pet healthcare and the benefits of visiting the
 veterinarian.
     To recognize pet owners who keep their dogs and cats in the best of
 health, FRONTLINE and HEARTGARD are conducting the Picture of Perfect Pet
 Health Contest, which will appear in the June issue of "Good Housekeeping."
 Pet owners are encouraged to submit the most adorable picture of their healthy
 pet and 50 words or less on why it is the Picture of Perfect Pet Health.  One
 cat and one dog will win a gift basket, which includes a year's supply of
 FRONTLINE and HEARTGARD Plus, and they will be featured in an upcoming issue
 of "Good Housekeeping."
 
      * HEARTGARD is well tolerated.  All dogs should be tested for heartworm
        infection before starting a preventive program.  In clinical field
        trials of HEARTGARD, even the most common adverse reactions, vomiting
        and diarrhea, were observed only rarely (1.1 percent of doses
        administered).
 
     About American Animal Hospital Association
     The American Animal Hospital Association is an international organization
 of more than 25,000 veterinary care providers who treat companion animals.
 Established in 1933, the association is well known among veterinarians for its
 high standards for hospitals and pet health care.  For more pet care
 information or to find an AAHA hospital near you, visit the AAHA website at
 http://www.healthypet.com.
 
     About Merial
     Merial is the world's leading innovation driven animal health company,
 providing a comprehensive range of pharmaceuticals and vaccines to enhance the
 health, well-being and performance of a wide range of animal species.  Merial
 operates in more than 150 countries worldwide.  Its 2001 sales were in excess
 of $1.6 billion.
     Merial manufactures FRONTLINE(R) brand flea and tick control products and
 HEARTGARD(R) Plus (ivermectin/pyrantel) brand heartworm preventatives.
     FRONTLINE brand products are the No. 1 choice of veterinarians for
 flea-and-tick control on dogs and cats.  It is the only topically applied,
 waterproof, once-a-month treatment for dogs and cats that kills both fleas and
 all major disease-carrying ticks for at least one month.
     HEARTGARD Plus is the only heartworm preventive in a real beef chewable
 that dogs love and owners prefer to give.  Year-round use of HEARTGARD Plus
 provides added protection against intestinal parasites, hookworms and
 roundworms that can cause disease.
     For further information please see http://www.merial.com.
 
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SOURCE Merial