Pilling a cat is torture (and other reasons to offer injectables)

March 8, 2018
Sarah Mouton Dowdy
Sarah Mouton Dowdy

Sarah Mouton Dowdy, a former associate content specialist for dvm360.com, is a freelance writer and editor in Kansas City, Missouri.

Veterinary clients reveal that when it comes to shots versus pills, convenience can absolutely outweigh cost.

You're going to need more than a spoonful of sugar to help that medicine go down. (Shutterstock.com)At Fetch dvm360 in San Diego, Brian Conrad, CVPM, practice manager at Meadow Hills Veterinary Center in Kennewick, Washington, and Brendan Howard, business channel director for dvm360, hosted a live panel of local pet owners in hopes of getting unfiltered responses to veterinary medicine's most vexing client service queries.

The question: “Would you rather purchase one injection for your pet at a higher cost, or pill your pet for two weeks for half the price?”

While experience may lead you to believe that cost is king (you've probably had a client or two scoff at the price of a product or service, eh?), the desire for convenience can reign supreme.

“14 days spent pilling a cat is two weeks of torture for you and the cat,” one pet owner panelist said in response to the question. “It's hard on the animal, and what if you forget?”

Another panelist agreed: “My dog hates pills,” he said. “I can hide them in anything, and she'll find them. I have to force them down her throat.”

“You're also stressing your animal with that [approach],” a third panelist added.

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How much more are these pet parents willing to pay for a one-stop shot? While all panelists said they would rather spend $40 on an injection than $20 on a two-week supply of pills, one pet owner took it a step further, saying she'd pay $100 for an injection to avoid pilling her cat at a cost of only $10.

The only widely convincing reason the panelists discussed for choosing pills over an injection had nothing to do with cost or convenience: Efficacy was said to be of utmost importance. “At the end of the day, you want to do what's best for your animal,” one pet owner said (even if that means two torturous weeks of pilling).

The take-home message: Give your clients a choice when it comes to their pet's medication if an injectable option exists. Experience may have taught them that it's well worth paying 10 times more to avoid the pains of pilling.