The benefits of breed-specific veterinary healthcare

Focusing on individual pet breeds each month educates your clients and helps you customize care.
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Jan 01, 2014

At the 2012 CVC in Kansas City, I was given a big notebook—Benchmarks 2012: A Study of Well-Managed Practices—as a thank-you gift for serving on the Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board. Intrigued, I opened it and one section briefly caught my eye: breed-specific healthcare. By honing in on individual breeds, it said, patients are more likely to receive customized, effective treatment, and clinics can build client bonds and drive repeat visits. However, I skipped over it and continued reading. I love learning about all the breeds as much as the next rescue-loving, mutt-adopting veterinary professional, but focusing on the medical concerns of each breed for clients who love that breed for all its awesome characteristics sounded like a bad idea. You love Labs? Well, have you thought about hip dysplasia? Boxers? Yes, they're sweet and their faces are cute, but they're also prone to cancer. Bulldogs? Liquidate your assets. Oh, and congratulations on your new puppy.

When I gave the book to my co-worker Angie, she disagreed. "We need to do this breed thing!" she said.

"No," I said, "Too depressing!"

But Angie insisted—and so we did. We used social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest) to start a "breed of the month" program, posting photos of a different dog or cat breed each month and offering breed-specific wellness tips. And it has been one of the most enjoyable projects ever. Here are a few things I've learned:

> Clients and online friends appreciate learning about breed-related medical concerns, even breeds they don't have. Balance it with fun facts, breed history and pictures, and a month of focusing on one breed will be rewarding instead of depressing.

> Putting fun facts on social media takes a lot of behind-the-scenes work, but it's the kind of work I love most. If there's someone in your practice who loves reading, learning and assimilating information (and you know there is—you're a medical team, for heaven's sake!), put that person in charge of gathering breed-specific information.

> The only thing that would make this more fun is if more veterinary teams were doing it with us! We could share background breed information, plan to cover the same breeds during certain months, and share what works and what doesn't.

Dr. Shawn Finch is a Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member and associate veterinarian at Gentle Doctor Animal Hospitals in Omaha, Neb.