Finding the Perfect Channel: Enhancing Communication for Pet Owner Education

What you say matters—as does how you say it.

In today's constantly connected world, you have many options for sharing veterinary educational content and resources with pet owners. But with so many choices literally at your fingertips, how can you ensure you're using the best communication channel for your targeted audience, message, and desired outcome?

Pet Owner Communication Channel Options

Communication is about more than simply conveying or exchanging information. Effective pet owner communication not only improves patient outcomes, but also builds loyalty and instills trust in your practice. Pet owners learn to rely on your practice for timely announcements and health reminders so they can make informed decisions about their pet's care. Rather than being regarded by owners as an if-necessary resource, you become an active and fully present member of their pet's everyday care team. This, in turn, enhances overall pet owner satisfaction and strengthens their relationship with your practice.

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Communication options to educate veterinary clients may include the following:

  • Push notification or text message: These can be used to address seasonal risks (e.g., tick-borne diseases) and encourage pet owners to schedule a preventive care appointment.

  • Face-to-face: Your customer service representative can ask the pet owner questions or mention important information during their visit. Perhaps when the pet owner needs preventive refills, the veterinary technician can explain the significance of vector-borne disease testing. Or perhaps while examining a pet, the veterinarian can demonstrate how and where to check for fleas and ticks.

  • Email: Following the examination, the invoice triggers an automatic email that provides additional parasite information and links to resources on your website or blog (e.g., how to perform a "tick check," safe tick removal, and an opportunity to sign up for preventive reminders).

Combining communication channels, including traditional (e.g., face-to-face, printed materials, or phone) and digital options, creates ongoing veterinary client education opportunities that are not confined to an appointment time slot—or a certain generation.

What Pet Owners Want From Communication Channels

Millennial pet owners are a driving force behind the veterinary communication evolution. As the new majority pet-ownership group, they expect customized communication and tailored experiences that only a digitally savvy practice can provide. But, although pleasing this client group with the right communication format is important, it's critical that it's not done at the expense of other, less digitally present clientele. To strike the right balance, employ multiple channels to ensure inclusion and create a comprehensive educational experience. This omnichannel communication strategy might include:

  • Texting: 64% of consumers believe that businesses should use more text messaging.

  • Social media: 27% of millennials want their veterinarians to be available on social media.

  • Push notifications: Educational push notifications have some of the highest open rates across both iOS and Android devices, and these rates increase further when content is customized.

  • Email: Email may be the oldest digital communication format, but it still reigns supreme. Millennials spend an average of 6.4 hours per day checking their email; 60% of users consider email their preferred promotional channel; and for now, email maintains a higher engagement rate than social media.

  • Printed materials: Brochures, articles, and instructions are still an important part of the client education experience, with tailored materials resulting in better outcomes.

Some practices may want to use digital methods for service reminders only, but the modern consumer is eager for virtual business interactions as well as traditional communication.

Identifying the Right Channels for Your Veterinary Practice

Because social media and email communication are free, practices may feel pressured to use every available communication channel, but this can lead to trouble. In addition to the constant challenge of delivering fresh and customized content for each format, remember to consider your costs in terms of time and labor—especially if client engagement is low.

When you're ready to extend your client education messaging beyond the exam room, strategy matters. Consider the following points when choosing the channels that will best fit your practice's needs.

  • Client opt-in: Respect your client's wishes regarding non-practice communication. Ask clients at their annual visit how they'd like to receive additional resources, and include filter-friendly options, such as social media, to poll interest.

  • Audience age: Provide an equal balance of digital options to suit all age groups. Facebook and YouTube are the most popular social media outlets across generations. But other platforms, such as Instagram and TikTok, have a strong but narrower audience and should not be ignored.

  • Message: If you want to deliver customized content on par with a traditional appointment, consider automated emails or push notifications that are triggered by in-practice purchases or diagnoses. If your practice has a blog, drive traffic to your website by texting or messaging direct links to relevant topics.

  • Goal: What's your desired outcome for clients after reviewing your messages or educational materials? Do you want them to explore your website, order preventive refills, or schedule a wellness appointment? Ensure your call to action includes a specific prompt—and a link—to inspire the client's action.

  • Time: Determine how much time and effort you can devote to using communication channels for client education. If possible, appoint one or two team members to manage content and delivery and ensure consistency.

Although pamphlets and posters will always have their place, modern client education must provide convenient, customized content that reaches pet owners outside the practice walls. Combining traditional communication channels with on-the-go resources and reminders can inspire conversation, empower pet owners to take action, strengthen the practice-client bond, and ultimately improve pet well-being.

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Sarah Rumple
Owner, Chief Creative Officer of Rumpus Writing and Editing

Sarah Rumple is an award-winning veterinary writer and editor. Since 2011, her work has focused on pet health/behavior and veterinary practice management topics. Her clients include individual veterinary practice owners, national corporations, nonprofit associations, media companies, consultants, and others. Learn more at

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