As veterinarians, we know how important the veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) is for diagnosing and treating patients. Research shows it’s also a critical component in providing routine wellness and preventive care.
The AVMA’s most recent survey of pet and pet owner demographics found that nearly 30% of pet owners don’t regularly bring their companions to see a veterinarian at least once a year. Even for dogs – who typically get more veterinary care than cats, companion-animal horses, or birds – we found that nearly 20% didn’t see a veterinarian at least once during the year.
The primary reasons given when pets didn’t see a veterinarian were that the animal wasn’t sick and that the owner didn’t have money to pay for veterinary care. Encouragingly, very few pet owners thought veterinary care was not worth the price charged. For pet owners who cited financial reasons for not seeing the veterinarian, it was a question of affordability, not value.
Where does the VCPR come in? Among pet owners, and especially dog owners, the research found that both price and convenience are less of a factor for owners who have what they consider a “regular” veterinarian. While most pet owners without a regular veterinarian choose veterinarians based on location and price, those who do have a regular veterinarian are influenced more by the practitioner's level of perceived knowledge, quality of care, and demonstrated compassion.
The data underscore the importance of building a relationship with the client by becoming the “regular” veterinarian, which helps to communicate the value of the services provided. Another key takeaway is the need for veterinary practices to convey the importance of taking pets to the veterinarian even when they’re not sick.
You can view the infographic at its full size here, and dig deeper into the research in the AVMA Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook. The Sourcebook includes a free executive summary available to AVMA members.
Resources to support preventive care
Partners for Healthy Pets, which the AVMA supports as a lead partner, provides a full suite of free tools to help veterinary teams build stronger client relationships and talk with clients about preventive care. These include communication tools, an easy-to-implement forward booking program, and much more. Interested team members can even enroll at no cost to earn a certificate in preventive healthcare.
The AVMA also has valuable resources to help members in this important area, including client brochures, posters, FAQs, and the following web pages you can share directly with clients: