Give one pill twice daily……please

Apparently compliance rates in the human medical world can be well below 50% for people on long term medications. People suffering from conditions such as diabetes, asthma or high blood pressure had particularly poor adherence to treatment recommendations. Traditionally in the veterinary world we haven’t worried as much as our GP counterparts about whether our clients are following our instructions, and maybe, surprisingly, with good reason. It turns out compliance rates are somewhat better when it comes to giving pills to a pet rather than taking them ourselves! 
Various studies have looked at the reasons why humans neglect to follow the medical advice given to them, these can range from a simple lack of understanding of the need of the medication, unwanted side effects, inconvenience issues around health and lifestyle advice and the cost of some medications. In the veterinary world the financial cost can be a much bigger issue without the assistance of pet insurance but all the other issues exist also. It turns out in many cases we are just more invested in keeping our pets healthy and well than ourselves. The pet – owner bond has a lot to do with this, the seemingly unconditional love that we receive earns a sincere affection which translates to a considerable emotional investment to nurse a sick companion back to health.  
However before we can pat all vets and pet owners on the back for their wonderful adherence there is still some work to be done. Highest levels of veterinary compliance are seen with short courses of medical treatments. Once you start looking at preventative health care such as vaccinations, parasite treatments and dental prophylaxis then even our veterinary adherence results starts to fall quickly. It comes down to if you can’t see a problem it’s easier to ignore. Not surprisingly the worst area for compliance is weight loss advice – it’s not so easy to resist the dog that begs constantly for food or the cat that meows incessantly to tell you that it needs another meal? The same reason we want to make them better again makes it hard to resist giving them those extra treats. 
As human patients and pet owners we can do a little better. If we would complete a course of tablets for a pet we ought to do the same for ourselves and the next time Fido begs for a biscuit try a carrot stick instead!