Good ways to break bad news
An overweight owner with an obese pet. A possible euthanasia patient. An older pet in decline. Use these tips for talking to pet owners in tough situations.
Jan 01, 2008
What not to do: Own the problem without the owner
What not to do: Tackle weight without your team
What to do: Send a team message to support owners who need to get their pets' weight down, says Dr. Cook. His receptionists are trained to notice when pets are carrying extra pounds and mention it to clients: "Wow, has Fluffy put on some weight?" When pets are weighed, veterinary assistants say, "You know, last year Fluffy weighed 32 pounds. Now she's 46 pounds. Were you aware of that?" Dr. Cook says this all sets the stage in the client's mind: "Wow, this must be a really big problem." When he then sees the client, Dr. Cook explains why obesity is a health risk and asks if the client would like to set up a weight-loss program for the pet.
What not to do: Make a pet's obesity personal
What to do: You may feel uncomfortable talking about a pet's obesity with a visibly overweight client. Just keep it focused on the pet, and no one will be offended. "We don't talk to clients about themselves," Dr. Cook says. "If overweight owners happen to get more exercise walking their dogs, all the better. But don't bring their weight into the conversation."
What not to do: Push the client