Who’s Responsible for Preventative Care?

According to The 2015 State of Pet Health Report from Banfield Pet Hospital, 81% of pet owners say they believe that they (not the vet) are responsible for preventive care. It says:

“For many pet owners, interactions with their veterinarian are not meeting their expectations and are seen as transactional… They’re tied to specific services, like vaccines or parasite control.”

Are we happy with this assessment? And if not, how can we improve the veterinarian-client relationship and provide more hands-on assistance?

vet with kitten interacting with young boy

Image Credit: Hello Kitty, by myfuture.com, used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Preventive Medicine is more than shots

As veterinarians, we tend to have tunnel vision which keeps our focus on serious medical and surgical issues. With medical cases, surgeries, and emergencies… sometimes it feels as if there are not enough hours in the day for proper communication with clients. When we overlook client communication in a busy veterinary clinic, what message does this send to the public?

Literally, we aren’t sending any message. Yes, you are busy. But so are they! More often than not, your busy schedule is leaving the door open for pet owners to seek such advice elsewhere. In fact, a 2014 survey found that, on average, dog owners were comfortable waiting 16.9 months between veterinary visits. 16.9 months!

That’s not to say they were not thinking about their pets. Pet owners are very in tune with their pet’s well-being and quality of life – including diet, exercise and socialization. For example, pet owners have many questions with regards to their pet’s diet:

  • Which food types and brands are best?
  • What is the best feeding routine?
  • Is my pet fat?

These questions may seem minor to us, but they aren’t to the client. These are the questions that they deal with day in and day out and, if given the opportunity to connect more frequently with their vets, they’d most likely seek answers from us.

I believe veterinarians have the opportunity to bridge the communication gap and build a stronger relationship with the pet owner and, at the same time, position themselves as the expert, supported by other trusted sources like breeders, trainers and groomers, to ensure that pets are getting the care they need at every stage of life.

Bridging the Gap

So now the question is, “How exactly can I take the time to communicate with clients. And, more importantly, when?”

The answer depends on your individual practice and the type of clientele that you have.

Telemedicine is a growing niche in veterinary clinics who are on the cutting edge. It has the ability to appeal to both younger, tech-savvy pet-parents and to those that may have trouble accessing a physical location, either through personal mobility issues or distance.

At Activ4pets.com we strive to help veterinarians follow up with their clients in a modern, online age. Our app encourages pet owners to become more active in managing their pet’s health and stay better connected with their veterinarians through the use push notifications and online video consultations. Veterinarians that are interested in expanding their practice and increasing revenue through telemedicine should visit our Partners page.

Meet the Author


Dr. Clayton Jones

Dr. Jones has 25 years of veterinary medical experience as a staff veterinarian and medical director of his own practice. He also is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Society and President of the US-Cuba Veterinary Cooperation Society.


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