Retail in emergency medicine? Nope.

March 27, 2019
Brendan Howard, Business Channel Director

Brendan Howard oversees veterinary business, practice management and life-balance content for dvm360.com, dvm360 magazine, Firstline and Vetted, and plans the Practice Management track at all three Fetch dvm360 conferences.Brendan has proudly served under the Veterinary Economics and dvm360 banners for more than 10 years. Before that, he worked as a journalist, writer and editor at Entrepreneur magazine and a top filmed entertainment magazine in Southern California. Brendan received a Masters in English Literature from University of California, Riverside, in 1999.

The 2018 dvm360/VHMA Practice Manager of the Year shares her view on retail in emergency practiceno surprise, not that bigbut does see a path where pet retailers and veterinarians could find more common ground and better help their shared customers.

Sorry, cat. No fun shopping in the emergency room. (Lightspruch/stock.adobe.com)What does retail look like at a veterinary specialty practice? It won't surprise you to learn that retail is not a focus for dvm360/VHMA Practice Manager of the Year Angelina Morgan, CVPM, at the two-location Pet+ER in Towson and Columbia, Maryland.

“When we sell pet food, it's enough to get you through the weekend to order from your referring DVM or Chewy.com,” says Morgan. “We have to be really careful what we're selling. Our referring veterinarians see it as taking their business.”

Morgan is even careful to bake that into doctors' production reports, excluding any retail items: food, nutritional supplements, treats, e-collars, anything else like that.

So that's that for specialty practices without their own general practices. Morgan makes sure everyone in the hospital and out in the veterinary community hospitals knows these emergency and critical care hospitals aren't looking to cannibalize anyone's product sales.

That said, Morgan says she does see an opportunity for “definite positive collaboration” between hospitals and pet stores-especially in education. Back in the day, Morgan worked at a grooming facility with a boutique pet store next to it, and she remembers some of the information that well-intentioned and passionate sales reps shared with groomers and pet store employees was “contradictory to what we're communicate in veterinary medicine.”

“I would be more apt to use a pet store if they could say their products were veterinarian-approved."

“You get this hype surrounded by new products and innovation in retail, and it sounds good and it's so colorful and exciting to present to clients,” she says, “but there's just not enough medicine to back up [those claims].

“Now, I feel bad about the food I was pushing on clients, bad for overall nutrition.”

Educational collaboration and trust between veterinarians and veterinary technicians sharing substantiated medicine with pet store team members “could be really beneficial,” she says. Picking diets, picking toys for the right age of pets and providing the latest information on effects of over-the-counter supplements and other items could really help the pet owners and help everyone concerned learn the right thing to recommend.

“Pet owners want their animals to be healthy,” she says, and fad diets and human trends in nutrition can get those well-meaning clients going down the wrong road. It comes in behavior, too, with pet owners not knowing what normal behavior is and excusing signs of stress and bad socializing in their pets.

“I would be more apt to use a pet store if they could say their products were veterinarian-approved,” she says. “It's just like those [human medicine ads],” she says. “Please consult with your primary care physician before drastically changing up your diet.”