Empower Clients as Partners in Their Pets’ Health

Labradoodle being hugged by a woman

Most pet parents support the health and well-being of their four-legged family members by engaging in and paying for veterinary care. Clients seek value in the services you provide by evaluating the quality and cost of their pets’ health care. And at the end of the day, clients decide if their experience at your practice is a positive one and one they will want to have again.

We all know that having a strong relationship between a practice and its clients is important, so it’s not surprising that three out of four veterinarians surveyed said they focus on strengthening the bond between their practice and their clients. However, “outgrowers,” the most successful practices that consistently outperformed the average growth rate by two times (for two years in a row), put even more stock in fostering the bond between pets and their owners.1 This is a subtle, yet very meaningful finding.

The bonds most important to practice success

More specifically, practices defined as consistent outgrowers invest more time, money and energy in helping their clients strengthen the bond between themselves and their pets than on any other bond. And this focus turns out to be critical to practice success. As one practitioner said, “Without a strong bond between pets and their owners, we would not see pets to treat and we would not get compliance with recommendations. The love has to start at home.”

Consistent outgrowers describe their clients as “partners in providing the best care possible for their pets.”2 In order to create a partnership with pet owners, your practice must educate them on the benefits of preventive care, individual baselines and annual testing to help identify hidden diseases. If you agree it’s your practice’s job to provide the best client experience possible as well as offer the best medical care available for every patient, consider the following questions:

  • Does your practice forward book your clients’ next appointments?
  • Do your clients understand the value of preventive care visits?
  • Do your clients understand the potential cost savings and health benefits of identifying early signs of disease?
  • Do your clients appreciate the importance of trending annual blood and fecal screenings to identify and prevent the spread of infectious diseases?

If your answers were less than an emphatic “yes,” here are some approaches you can leverage from the outgrowers to help begin creating partnerships with your clients:

  1. Review the patient’s complete diagnostic history with the owner during each examination. This provides an opportunity for you to explain why you’re recommending additional diagnostics or follow-up treatment plans, to determine next steps or to congratulate the owner on the great job they’re doing with their pet’s care. It also engages clients in their pet’s healthcare and provides them with an opportunity to ask additional questions.
  2. Trend diagnostic results to identify diseases earlier or share a pet’s response to a successful treatment plan. Each result on its own provides a limited amount of information; seeing a result as part of a trend reveals what “normal” results are for each patient and may easily illustrate the need for further diagnostic investigation.
  3. Share and send personalized information to help pet owners understand the value of their visit. Seeing their pet’s diagnostic results or sharing an annual “report card” not only provides context but also tangible evidence of the service you’ve provided. When you share and review test results with clients, you can increase compliance with treatment and preventive care recommendations. The client can understand the role they play in their pet’s health status.

Patient care can be impacted by an owner’s willingness to make and keep appointments. Successful practices take the time to educate and win over clients regarding the benefits of the veterinary healthcare options they provide. In the process, they reinforce each patient’s place as a valued family member. Once pet owners become believers, they’ll also become your best allies in ensuring your patients receive the care you recommend.

…“outgrowers,” the most successful practices that consistently outperformed the average growth rate by two times (for two years in a row), put even more stock in fostering the bond between pets and their owners.1


  1. Data on file at IDEXX Laboratories, Inc., Westbrook, Maine USA.
  2. Davis S. State of the Industry, 2014: growers vs. decliners. Trends. 2014;30(6):32–34.