Breeders: Basically a DVM, right?
Kidding! But we know clients tend to religiously follow their breeder's recommendations. Let's realize whether or not they are following the breeder blindly through good communicationnot arguing.
Photo: Shutterstock/Mila AtkovscaDid you know that as of this year, becoming a breeder automatically gives you a doctorate of veterinary medicine?
Ha. I'll give you a complimentary eye-roll moment.
OK, are we back?
The truth is, many clients who obtain puppies and kittens from reputable breeders believe they have just as much knowledge as you do. Not only do clients follow contracts with breeders promising things such as vaccinations at a certain time or spaying/castrating at a certain age, but they also religiously follow non-contracted recommendations at which veterinarians would otherwise cringe: no heartworm prevention, no spaying/castrating ever despite plans to breed or not, no flea/tick prevention, no dog food, and other recommendations that would make a veterinarian lose his/her license to practice or, at the very least, find themselves in front of the state board.
Well, this is awkward
Whenever a veterinarian or certified veterinary technician finds themselves in the awkward position to contradict a breeder, rather than give a blatant eye-roll in front of the client, it is always best to help the clients educate themselves.
In other words, make the client question the breeder. For example, Mrs. Smith comes in with a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy stating that the breeder instructed not to put her on a heartworm preventative. You cringe. What should you say?
Instead of belittling the breeder's advice (and in turn, belittling the client for accepting it) ask the client what the breeder's information is based on and why the client believes it's a good idea. Ask them to give you the information, the studies, the statistics, the medical information to back up claims that you find to be absurd. Chances are, they will appreciate the opportunity to respond to you, but they also might find themselves questioning the breeder.
Switching up responsibility
Of course, this is not to say that all breeders give risky information or are uneducated in veterinary medicine. Many breeders follow the vaccination recommendations, spay/castration recommendations, and heartworm preventative recommendations.
But for the select few who give bad advice, put the responsibility of education back into the client. After all, they paid a pretty penny for this bundle of joy-and you should remind them of that, if nothing else.
Respecting the client-breeder relationship should not be a test as to who has the most experience, knowledge or degrees. It should be an opportunity to let clients do research and make informed decisions about their new addition.
Veronica “Ronnie” Hanley is practice manager for Vetana Animal Hospital in Tucson, Arizona.