Dr. Karen Felsted: Pet Owners Want More Education

Pet Owners Open to Education

Last time we talked about how many pet owners really don’t understand the need for veterinary care.  Fortunately, they seem to be open to more education and to visiting the veterinary practice more often if they better understood the need for care.

Three of the top four things pet owners in the Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study said that would make them take their pet to the veterinarian more often were about education. These top four items were the same for both dog and cat owners although the order and the percentages varied a little between the two groups.

The first change that would cause pet owners to take their pet to the veterinary practice more often was “if I knew I could prevent problems and expensive treatment later.”  The second was “if I was convinced it would help my pet live longer” and the last was “if I really believed my pet needed exams more often.”  These are all points we must include in our client education efforts.  (The fourth of the top four items was about price—”I would take my pet to the veterinarian more often if each visit was less expensive.”  We’ll talk more about price a little later.)

Of course, if we’re going to convince pet owners that preventive care is important, we (as a profession) have to believe in it.  How do veterinarians feel about preventive care?

The majority of those surveyed in the Bayer study agree (either completely or somewhat) that wellness exams are the most important service the practice performs. This belief was one of the attributes that was associated with practices that were experiencing an increase in patient visits.  Obviously, this makes sense; a lack of belief means that practice owners won’t put the time and attention into making preventive care a focus of the practice.

However, while most practice owners find wellness care to be a critical component of their practice, 65% of them also said that pet owners don’t share that belief.  And 43% were concerned that pet owners feel they are only recommending exams to make money.

Clearly we need to focus on conveying the above benefits to pet owners.  What has been most effective in your practice?

Dr. Karen Felsted.

Read all of Dr. Felsted’s blogs here.