As veterinary surgeons, it’s our job to stand up for animal welfare. And often, that means teaching pet owners how to look after their pets properly. But with vets stretched thinly and even a 15 minute consultation rarely being enough, how do you find the time to educate pet owners?

The key is to look for touchpoints outside of the veterinary consultation. This creates value for the pet owner (as they see this information as ‘free’) and can save time during a consultation. It can also inspire great conversations with pet owners! So let’s look at the key ways a veterinary practice can educate pet owners before they even set foot in the consult room…

5 ways to educate pet owners outside the consult room

1. Social Media

Social media is so powerful when used correctly. Pet owners spend a lot of time scrolling on social media (don’t we all!) and this can be a wonderful way to connect with them, give them updates, and showcase your amazing team’s knowledge.

Pick your channels (we generally recommend Facebook or Instagram – or both!), and be reliable. Regular posting is key, but luckily scheduling in advance can ease the burden on your team and reduce the chance that you drop the ball on this one.

2. Waiting room displays

Waiting room displays can either spark conversations and interest, or be completely ignored. Lots of drugs companies will give free display materials to help you keep your waiting room looking fresh, but these can be a bit repetitive.

There’s nothing stopping you from designing your own or asking us for help. We’d advise getting them printed by a specialist printer rather than what you have in-house though – glossy paper and high-quality ink makes a huge difference to how professional these look!

3. Waiting room TV

Far easier to update and more eco-friendly than lots of printing, waiting room TV is a brilliant way to educate pet owners while they wait for their appointment. Just like the displays though, it’s important not to let it get stale – your playlist needs to be long enough that owners aren’t reading the same thing over and over, and you need to adjust it regularly.

Our friends over at The Vet Channel have over 2500 videos in their library, many of them written or checked by our vets. The videos are engaging and educational, and there’s something for everyone on there.

4. Emails, e-newsletters, and newsletters

It’s not a bad idea to have a paper newsletter, but virtual is really the key here. Sending regular newsletters is a great way to tell pet owners about seasonal dangers, advertise your services, and educate pet owners about diseases and conditions.

The key with newsletters is to be reliable. Pick a frequency and stick to it, no matter what. If that’s too hard in-house, why not ask us to create the newsletters for you? You can either buy our standard newsletter, or ask us to add in information about your own clinic.

5. Your blog

Your vet practice blog is another great place to include informational articles that help to explain things to pet owners. Pet owners enjoy learning about their pet from their most trusted source – you.

As with newsletters, your blog needs to be reliable. If pet owners aren’t seeing new information there, they’ll stop checking. A good search tool is great too, as pet owners can easily check your website for the information they need before looking elsewhere. If you need help creating and filling your vet practice blog, talk to us!

The benefits of educating pet owners

At this point you might be wondering if it really matters whether you educate pet owners outside the consult room or not. But there are several benefits to your practice you should consider:

  • Saves time explaining things in consultation (which means reduced wait times, happier clients, less stressed vets, and even increased revenue from vets who can see more clients)
  • Improves perceived value, which increases client satisfaction
  • Clients perceive that you care, which increases client retention
  • Opportunity for a brand and USP, which can increase client bonding
  • Increased revenue from increased sales of treatments or investigations once owners understand why they’re necessary
  • Increased compliance means happier pets (and vets!)

Final thoughts

It’s a good idea to take every opportunity to educate pet owners, both inside and outside the consultation. We know that clients retain a very small proportion of the information they’re given in a consultation, so giving them other trusted places to learn what they need to is essential. As vet writers, we believe that good content creates good clients – that’s why we offer a full range of writing services for your veterinary practice.

Joanna Woodnutt

Joanna Woodnutt

Dr Joanna Woodnutt MRCVS is a qualified vet, freelance writer, and editor at The Veterinary Content Company. She lives in the Channel Islands with her husband and daughter, as well as their naughty but loveable terrier, Pixie.

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