SPECIAL REPORT PART 3: Spread the news about the pet food recall


A simple letter is all you need to help keep your clients up to date on the pet food recall.

TO BE HONEST, AT FIRST I THOUGHT it might be opportunistic to do what I'm about to recommend. But when I read in the newspapers how many animals have been affected and have died, my thoughts changed. I now believe that if we don't educate clients about the pet food recall and what to do about it, we're negligent. After all, veterinarians and their teams are supposed to be patients' advocates and clients' source for accurate healthcare information.

So, our team suggested that practices that consult with us write a letter to their clients informing them about the pet food recall. The letter provides clients with Web sites they can visit for up-to-the-minute information about the recalled foods. It also educates clients about symptoms to look for if they suspect the food that they've been feeding their pet has been contaminated. The last part of the letter suggests that if the client is concerned, he or she should bring the pet in for a comprehensive physical exam and, if the doctor finds it appropriate, blood work and urinalysis. (See the sample letter.)

Many of our consulting practices are sending this letter to every patient they've seen in the last 12 to 18 months. Other practices have identified specific patients that, according to their records, have been fed affected foods, and they're following up by phone as well. You could also e-mail clients a letter or post this information on your practice's Web site.

It's too early to evaluate the overall effectiveness of this educational program, but early results have been favorable. Clients appreciate a proactive approach that educates them about the problem and tells them what they can do to protect their pet.

It's not too late to send out letters to clients if you haven't done so. This situation is constantly changing and nobody knows when it's going to die down. And in any crisis, instead of sitting back and waiting for clients to call in a panic, be assertive. Step up and take the lead. Educate your clients about what they can do to determine whether their pet's health has been affected, and strengthen their bond to your practice at the same time.

Sample letter


Dear Mrs. Pet Owner,

I'm sure you've heard about the pet food recall on the news or read about it in the newspaper. As your pet's veterinary team, we feel that it's important that you have the latest and most accurate information. This is a serious problem that has caused dogs and cats grave illness and even death. First of all, if you want to know whether the food you've been feeding your pet has been recalled, please call our office or visit fda.gov or menufoods.com/recall/ for the latest information.

If your pet has been fed any of these foods, we suggest you bring him or her in for a comprehensive physical exam. If the doctor finds it necessary, we'll also do blood work and other laboratory tests to see if your pet's health has been affected. The most common signs we would expect to see are lethargy (acting tired and having little energy), vomiting, diarrhea, and lack of interest in eating. Unfortunately, many pets will not show any of these symptoms until the problem has progressed.

If your pet has been exposed to any of the tainted foods, the medical problems can be treated in most cases. But we need to start treatment sooner rather than later. If you have any questions please feel free to call our office at (555) 123-4567, and our team members will be happy to assist you.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. We take the responsibility of being your pet's healthcare professional seriously.


The doctors and staff at ABC Veterinary Hospital

Editors' note:To download a printable version of this letter, Click here

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