AVMA, Mars help strengthen veterinary team-client partnership with Positive Pet Care Guide

According to a recent survey of more than 1,300 AVMA members, 40% of respondents said that they or someone they work with have been a victim of cyberbullying in the workplace. Nine out of 10 veterinarians indicated they experienced negative or escalated client interactions in the past year, with 65% saying it happened on a weekly basis. Veterinary teams are experiencing increasingly tense interactions with frustrated clients, both in-person and online.

In response to concerns like these expressed by veterinary professionals and pet owners, the AVMA, Mars Veterinary Health, and industry leaders created the Positive Pet Care Guide.

Positive Pet Care Guide
The Positive Pet Care Guide (PDF), which can displayed in the clinic or provided to clients, outlines descriptions of the behaviors veterinary teams and clients can expect from one another to maintain mutual trust and respect.

The Positive Pet Care Guide is a free resource that veterinary teams can use to help foster healthy communication and a positive partnership between staff and pet owners. This comprehensive guide outlines matching expectations for both veterinary teams and clients, and encourages a supportive, safe, and inclusive environment.

“We are incredibly proud of the way industry leaders from across the profession came together to create a much-needed resource that we’re confident will have a positive impact on hospital teams, pet owners and patients,” said Dr. Lori Teller, AVMA President. “We remain committed to ensuring veterinary professionals have the tools they need to thrive in their careers while meeting the needs of clients and pets.”

Prior to creating the guide, the AVMA and Banfield Pet Hospital surveyed 1,000 dog and cat owners and AVMA surveyed more than 1,300 veterinarians to learn more about pain points, opportunities, and areas of understanding between these two groups. 

Eighty percent of veterinary professionals said they wish owners understood issues facing the industry such as lack of staffing and appointments, and 72% of pet owners agreed they can show more patience and understanding to the pain points veterinary professionals are experiencing to help strengthen the veterinary team and client relationship.

Upon reflection, nearly half of veterinary professionals and almost all pet owners (96%) indicated that they wished they could redo and approach the conversation differently after negative or escalated interactions to help create a more positive outcome.

The guide is the result of an industry-wide working group aimed at strengthening the relationship between veterinary teams and pet owners through resources, education, and collaboration.

Working group members include the AVMA and Mars Veterinary Health along with its practices Banfield, BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital, and VCA Animal Hospitals.

Additional group members are as follows:  

  • American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC)
  • National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA)
  • Not One More Vet (NOMV)
  • Veterinary Hope Foundation (VHF)
  • Veterinary Medical Association Executives (VMAE)
  • Veterinary Hospital Managers Association (VHMA)

More than a dozen organizations in the veterinary profession reviewed the document and provided feedback.

“Mars Veterinary Health and our family of practices are proud to collaborate with industry leaders to drive positive change across the profession so that people and pets can thrive,” said Doug Drew, president of Mars Veterinary Health. “When we strengthen the relationship between veterinary professionals and pet owners, hospital teams and clients can better work together to provide quality care to the pets that rely on us.”

This resource can be found along with the AVMA’s recently launched reputation management toolkit, made available to veterinary professionals thanks to an educational grant from Banfield. The toolkit includes articles and videos on topics such as cyberbullying, reputation management, and social media monitoring.

A version of this article appears in the June 2023 print issue of JAVMA.