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More than half of surveyed practice managers say clients use the Internet to self-diagnose and treat their pets.

We know clients use the Internet when it comes to pet health. In fact, according to the American Animal Hospital Association's 2015 State of the Industry Report, 60 percent of pet owners research their pet's health either before of after their veterinary visit. Recently, the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association surveyed members to find out what practice managers think clients primarily use the Internet for when it comes to their pets. Answers ranged from expected to well, kind of horrifying.

What do you think veterinary clients do on the Internet?

Veterinary managers answered...

Regardless of how pet owners are using the Internet for their pets, the veterinary team's role is to educate and point clients to good, trusted content online. The good news is, most veterinary managers (65 percent) say they are already doing that, usually during exam room conversation. Handouts, social media and electronic communication are also favored ways to reach clients with that information-especially if those clients haven't been to the clinic in a while.

Teaching moments:

Just 6 percent of veterinary managers said they discover clients are giving their pets a supplement or have changed their pets' diets or treatments based on online information. Further, 37 percent of respondents say clients expressed regret about using the Internet as a substitute for veterinary care.

Although disappointing, this is an opportunity to: 

• Listen

• Provide education: In the exam room, with handouts, and links to more information on your website and links to other “approved” sites

• Assure clients they can always call your clinic with questions and concerns.

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