Veterinarians: How to Get
Your Clients to Provide More and Better Care
for Their Pets…Without Making Them Think All
You Want Is Money
by: Lisa J. Lehr
Today’s veterinary healthcare providers
face a dilemma: how to get your clients to
provide more and better care for their pets
without making them think all you want is
money. Here are some ways you can do just that
(and a bonus: you’ll get more new clients,
America is a nation of animal lovers. We
provide homes for pets in numbers unrivaled by
any other society on earth. And you, the
veterinary healthcare provider, who have
devoted your life to the well-being of
animals, do what you do for the love of
animals—not for the love of money.
Yet, as you know from your daily practice,
many—if not most—pets are undertreated.
Maybe you’re reluctant to recommend
additional treatment, for fear your clients
will think you just want their money. The
truth is, pet owners would spend more on pet
care… if their vets told them what they needed
to do…and if you could convince them that it’s
their pets’ well-being you care about most.
The key? Vets who establish the best
relationships with their clients will get the
most business from existing clients…and the
most new clients. And those relationships
begin with communication.
The human-animal bond is extremely
important in our society.
Most households in America have at least
one pet, and these pets are cherished members
of the family.
Consider these figures from the AAHA’s 2004
Pet Owner Survey of US and Canadian pet
94% think their pet has humanlike
93 % would risk their own life for their
87% include pets in their holiday
84% consider themselves Mom or Dad to the
82% think of their pets at least once a
day when they’re away.
80% said “companionship” is the major
reason for having a pet.
78% greet their pet at the door before
they greet their spouse.
72% say affection is their pet’s most
67% of pet-containing households
recognize pet birthdays.
65% have sung or danced with their pet.
62% sign letters or cards as being from
their pets as well as themselves.
57% would rather have a pet than a person
with them if stranded on a deserted island.
55% have an emergency preparedness plan
that includes their pet.
43% of pets (not including fish and
snakes) share beds with their people.
36% say their pet enjoys watching TV.
33% talk to their pets on the phone or
through the answering machine.
25% say they brush their pet’s teeth.
24% of dog owners sometimes dress their
18% have attended a birthday party for
someone else’s pet.
Not only that…we are increasingly becoming
a culture of animal lovers. American pets
enjoy a better quality of life each year.
Spaying and neutering have reached an
all-time high—82%, up from 75% just ten years
Those who provide daily exercise for
their pet is now at 80%, up from only 68% in
Dogs and cats have largely moved indoors,
and 39% of pet owners say they have at least
one piece of furniture reserved for their pet.
Those who dress their pets is up from
21%, with most saying they do so to protect
their pets from the weather…but also “for fun”
The concept of “no-kill” shelters—only
recently considered unrealistic—is quickly
gaining in popularity.
Yes…we love to love our pets.
But…you don’t want to take advantage of our
love for our pets!
Understandably, with each care
recommendation you make comes the implication
that the client must spend money.
Emphasize that prevention is the best way
to go. Remind pet owners they can help pets
live longer, healthier, happier lives by
bringing in their pets for regular physical
exams, vaccinations, and dental care.
Some pet owners might consider euthanizing
a pet because they’re not aware of the options
available. You can put yourself on their team
by suggesting ways they can save money—e.g.,
mail order drugs or generics; home care.
Don’t pre-judge clients’ willingness to
comply…or ability to pay. Some hints…
Start by assuming that pet owners want
the best care for their pets.
Keep educational materials and resources
available; use them to reinforce
recommendations you’ve made.
Schedule the next appointment before the
Here’s a big opportunity to increase
client satisfaction: make follow-up phone
calls. Studies show that most pet owners want
follow-up calls…but only a little over half
Remember: these are quality of care
goals, not financial goals.
Pets are big business! Pets are the new
status symbols; a well cared-for pet is a sign
Many vets believe obesity is the greatest
health issue facing America’s pets. Do you?
Here’s a worthy challenge to overcome: people
buy ordinary pet food because it’s cheaper…and
it’s “good enough.”
Offer premium quality pet foods for sale at
your practice, and suggest clients buy some
along with the services they’re purchasing.
Here again, emphasize that prevention is
Other trends represent increased
We have more pets per household then ever
before. Consider these exciting trends:
Pets are living longer than ever before.
This is a self-perpetuating cycle: pets
receive better care…therefore live longer…and
older pets require specialized care.
People are more likely than they used to
be to adopt older pets…therefore animal
shelters and rescue organizations are more
likely to keep these pets available for
adoption rather than euthanize them.
No-kill shelters are also likely to keep
available for adoption pets with other special
needs…and people are more willing to adopt
these than ever before.
The final frontier of opportunity: cats. A
growing percentage of pets in America are
cats; there are now more cats than dogs in
America. Yet, cats are less likely than dogs
to get annual care.
And with Americans having busier
lifestyles, with fewer (human) children in the
family and most people away during the day,
this is a trend with no end in sight.
…Which represents an opportunity to put
more emphasis on regular cat care.
Bottom line: connect with owner, who
connects with the pet.
Your job is to help the owner keep the pet
healthy and happy. Encourage the understanding
that it’s good to establish the relationship
before something catastrophic happens.
This will keep your clients bringing their
pets to you for regular, preventive care.
It will also establish your reputation as
being a vet who cares…and by word-of-mouth
advertising from healthy patients and happy
clients, your business will grow.
Here are some of the ways you can keep in
touch with your clients:
Newsletters (internal and external)
Trade magazine articles
|About The Author
Lisa J. Lehr is a freelance writer with a specialty in business and
marketing communications. She holds a
biology degree and has worked in a variety
of fields, including the pharmaceutical
industry and teaching, and has a
particular interest in animals. She is
also a graduate of American Writers and
Artists Institute (AWAI), America’s
leading course on copywriting. Contact
Lisa J. Lehr Copywriting
Lisa@ljlcopywriting.com for help with
your business writing needs.
This article ©Lisa J. Lehr 2005.