Extend an olive branch to retailers

April 4, 2019

Or at least acknowledge them, because they're not going away. Veterinarians chime in on co-existing with pet merchants.

The relationship between veterinary clinics and those retailers who often work with the same pet owners over time can sometimes be a contentious one-at least from the veterinarians' perspective. And no wonder: Big-box and other pet supply outlets are not only seen by some as authorities on what's best for pets, they can take away from clinics' bottom lines as well by selling alternatives to products veterinary practices recommend and sell.

We asked two Fetch dvm360 conference speakers-Richard Gerhold, DVM, MS, PhD, and Hilal Dogan, BVSc, CCTP-if there was a way in which veterinarians could put aside the inherent competition for dollars and foster better, more collaborative relationships with pet retailers. They were both upbeat in very different responses.

Dr. Gerhold chose to address the dissemination of information to pet owners. He'd like to see pet owners' concerns addressed by credentialed professionals and in a science-based manner, "making sure it's not just, 'This is Disease X because it sounds like it'-making sure that pet owners are actually being educated."

Did he say 'client handouts'?

• Client handout: Licking Lyme disease

• Client handout: Say no to chicks and ducklings this spring

• Client handout: 'Is heartworm prevention worth it?'

He says another way to assert your authority is to provide fact-rich handouts for client that contain the information and web links you want them to have.

"Make one-page, two-page pamphlets that you can initially [discuss with them], but they can go home and read and find more information," Dr. Gerhold says.

Relating to his area of specialty, he points out that the American Heartworm Society and the Companion Animal Parasite Council both have information for practitioners and pet owners on their websites.

Watch the video below to hear more from Dr. Gerhold.

Jump to the next page to hear from Dr. Hilal Dogan ...


"Why do they expect that I'm supposed to know every single food brand out there-and then I'm like, should I know?"

Sound familiar? That's how Dr. Hilal Dogan feels when faced with pet owners steeped in marketplace options. But she contends that it's worth it to get up to speed with what's available: "If we did work with more retailers and we learned more about all the products out there, we could better advise our clients."

Again, taking an authoritative stance might be the difference between patients getting what you recommend and getting what a big-box store employee is trying to move this week.

Watch this video for more.

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