Communicating with clients: Using the right language to improve care

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Language of Veterinary Care Initiative

AVMA conducted language-focused research with pet owners across the United States to learn more about harnessing language to improve patient care.

View key takeaways

Preventive care is the surest way to keep pets healthy, but clients don’t always recognize its importance. To provide the best possible care to patients, we need to connect with their owners—our clients—on a foundational level. AVMA research shows the right language can help us do that.

Fundamentally shifting how we communicate about veterinary care can make a big difference.

Changing the way we talk about veterinary care can change owners’ perceptions about the value and importance of regular veterinary care, and encourage them to prioritize wellness visits. By using specific words and phrases, we can build stronger and more trusting client relationships, increase compliance, and maximize patient outcomes. The more our clients trust us, the more receptive they are to our recommendations, and the more likely their pets are to get needed care.

Practical resources for veterinary teams

These AVMA tools can help veterinary teams integrate key words and phrases into daily conversations with clients.

Clinic resources

Ebook: Language that works

Discover the words and phrases that most resonate with clients. Find out what your team should—and shouldn’t—be saying when talking with pet owners.

Get ebook


Pocket reference guide

Download and use this quick reference to find the right words for specific client conversations—before you walk into the room.

Get guide


Training and CE

Instructional videos: Words in action

See how the language we use with clients can significantly influence patient care. You’ll see how a team member’s choice of words leads to two very different outcomes.

Watch now


Training module: Language dos and don'ts

Explore the most effective language to communicate the why, what, and how of veterinary care in this interactive training. Gain awareness into pet owners’ thoughts on veterinary care, and come away knowing how to articulate your practice's value.

Start learning


Webinar: Discussing cost of care

Discover how to break down cost barriers with clients, empowering owners to talk about cost and explore flexible treatment and payment options with your team. This session builds on learnings from the "Language Dos and Don'ts" training module.

Learn more

Takeaways from the Language of Veterinary Care Initiative

Clients want customized care

Clients understand that a strong and trusting relationship with their veterinarian enables the whole team to provide better care and more customized recommendations in every area of their pet’s life.

Say this:
“Regular check-ups allow your veterinarian to build a strong relationship with you and your pet.”

emotions Matter

An emotional appeal is the most effective way to talk with pet owners about veterinary care. This is true no matter the specific topic: Why go to the veterinarian; when to go; what you get; and how to pay for services.

Say this: 
“Veterinary care is one of the best ways to keep your pet healthy and happy for years to come.”

Be upfront about cost

Owners appreciate when their veterinarian demonstrates understanding about cost of care and even voices a desire to help make veterinary care more affordable.

Say this:
“Veterinary care is expensive. We can work with you to explore a full range of flexible care and treatment options to fit your budget.”

The Language of Veterinary Care research and tools are made possible in part by educational funding from our partners CareCredit and Pets Best.

CareCredit and PetsBest

Message from CareCredit and Pets Best: This information is shared solely for your convenience. You are encouraged to consult with your individual advisors with respect to any information presented.