Veterinarians' pets may not receive top-level care

Veterinarians' pets may not receive top-level care

We know the truth. You don't comply with your hospital's standards of care when it comes to your own pets. See the surprising data and explore why it might just be human nature.
Aug 01, 2009
By staff

We here at Veterinary Economics have to be honest: We were a little surprised by our survey results on compliance. You told us you recommend protocols at your hospitals that you don't always follow with your own pets. Wow. If any pet is going to receive top-notch veterinary care, shouldn't it be your own cats and dogs?

To be fair, there are many reasonable explanations. Maybe you lifted your rottweiler's lip and decided he didn't need a dental cleaning this year. Maybe your cat's risk of parasites is low and you don't figure a fecal test is necessary.

Or perhaps you're a little too optimistic about how well and how often you recommend practice protocols to clients. "People overestimate the good things and underestimate the bad," says Dr. Ernest Ward Jr. "That's human nature at its root." Read his analysis and a useful client compliance tip below.

But maybe—just maybe—you believe high standards of care are necessary for pet health, you recommend those standards to clients, and yet your compliance with those standards for your own pets is fairly dismal. Team members' compliance is slightly lower than veterinarians', but your labor is free when it comes to your pet.

By the numbers
According to our survey, three out of four of you think of your pets as family members. You say you're recommending the best care to your clients. Are you shortchanging your own furry family?

Client compliance improves when your own pets receive the best.

It's the right way to practice veterinary medicine, says Dr. Ernest Ward Jr., owner of Seaside Animal Care in Calabash, N.C. When you make recommendations, you can look clients in the eye and say, "This is what I do for my own pet." And you can really mean it. Dr. Ward, a Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member, says the high standards of care for clients' pets and middling standards for your pets is explained by a natural tendency to be positive—even if it's not perfectly true. You rely on a rosy picture of your exam room recommendations without checking your own records. But when you think about your own animals, you're closer to the mark.

Cat compliance
To verify you're recommending the right services to clients, look at 10 random medical records at your practice and see if you or another veterinarian recommended the standards of care appropriate for that pet. Clients can't comply with recommendations they don't receive.

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