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Pet owner expectations are changing. Can your practice keep up?

By Sandra Siegel, DVM

Align with how your clients want you to reach them

young woman with white dog against artistic background

As a companion animal veterinary practice, your primary focus is to provide the best possible care for your patients. In today's rapidly changing landscape, that means recognizing the evolving preferences of pet owners in order to do so. One of the largest challenges most veterinary practices face is meeting the expectations of pet owners who want to interact with their veterinarians in a more personalized and approachable way. Two-way texting, automated calendar reminders that improve retention, and full-featured client apps can meet the needs of today's pet owners while being easy for a clinic to implement. Better communication increases the connection between client and clinic, and that leads to higher retention rates and greater client trust. Here's how strategic communication technologies can improve your client relations and give you more time to focus on what you love — practicing medicine.

Understanding the shift in pet owner preferences

The current generation of pet owners hasgrown up in a digital age in which convenience, accessibility, and personalized experiences are baseline expectations. Traditional communication approaches alone may fail to attract and retain these tech-savvy clients. To keep your practice thriving, adapting to their preferred means of communication and engagement is essential. A few small steps toward better communication can lead to significant revenue gains over time.

Millennials are now the largest generation of pet owners.1 They seem particularly concerned with their pets' health, opting for organic pet foods, preventive veterinary care, and regular dental care visits. This segment, along with GenZ, continues to out spend other demographics. Pet owners ages 18-34 are spending an average of $133 per month on pets, compared to owners ages 65 and above, who are spending $59 per month. Attracting and maintaining these younger clients may hinge on providing next-level communication strategies.

Two-way texting and personalized communications

How many clients are responsive to phone calls and voicemails? Many clinics know firsthand that phone calls and voicemails usually go unanswered. These days, two-way communication systems and personalized outreach campaigns are ideal strategies for offering more direct and efficient ways to engage with pet owners.

Two-way texting allows for real-time, private conversations between clinics and clients, as well as quick responses to inquiries, appointment reminders, and follow-up care instructions. This convenient approach not only streamlines communication but also helps build stronger relationships with clients. Implementing a two-way texting system may only require that you add a communications software module to your existing practice information management systems (PIMS).

Will two-way texting create an administrative burden for your practice? Not at all! The two-way text module is available as a stand-alone option or as part of the overall client communications module. It has automated features to notify clients about appointments, rescheduling, or pickups, and it can also be used live to communicate remotely with pet owners during an exam. These features add a highly personalized touch to client communications, which can give your clinic an edge over other providers.

Automated welcome messages, email reminders, and follow-up surveys are all ways to improve communication without adding to your staff's workload. With an integrated communications system, you can add a full-featured communication module that includes text, email, postcards, surveys, and more to ensure you're reaching clients in ways they'll appreciate. You can add these automated strategies to your practice without having to build systems from scratch.

Retention calendar for client engagement

Another solution that improves client relations is a retention calendar. Maintaining client loyalty is crucial for the long-term success of your practice, and a retention calendar keeps pet owners consistently engaged. These systems help you stay organized and proactive in reaching out to clients for routine checkups, vaccinations, and other essential appointments.

By proactively reminding pet owners of upcoming appointments and preventive care measures, you not only demonstrate your care for their pets, but you also helping them stay on top of important health milestones. A retention calendar is a powerful tool to establish a sense of trust and reliability with your clients and encourage them to continue seeking your services as their pets grow older.

Retention calendars go beyond client care. They also generate thousands in additional revenue each month without adding any additional marketing or office outreach. Look for a platform that will continually process your practice data and proactively alert staff to update email addresses, phone numbers, and other information to make client communication easier. With this "clean data," it can send automated scheduling communications by email, text, or even postcard to reach your clients via their preferred method.

Client app for enhanced convenience

Mobile apps have become an integral part of modern life, and we have all become accustomed to having our health and personal information available to us at the tap of our mobile devices. Offering a dedicated client app for your veterinary practice can significantly enhance the overall client experience. Pet owners can easily schedule appointments, access medical records, receive push notifications, and interact with your practice directly from their smartphones. A one-stop destination for pet owners to manage their pets' healthcare needs and engage with your practice on their terms can increase client satisfaction and loyalty.

Loyalty programs drive customer satisfaction

Additionally, offering a customizable loyalty program can improve average transaction values and automatically help to manage refunds, returns, and discounts to free up staff resources and remove some of the manual steps of these processes. Your veterinary practice is in charge of rewards, deciding which how rewards points will function. A program with diect inegration into your PIMS makes automation a breeze. With loyalty programs a part of online and big box retailers' marketing tactics, having one makes sense for your practice as a differentiator.

Integration and analytics made easy

When you've started a new campaign, how will you know if it's effective? Your client communications platform should provide actionable business insights to measure communications volume and find out if you're really reaching your clients and improving revenue. Pulling reports from a communications platform is easy, and the data will be unique to your practice. These business insights can help uncover new opportunities to reach your specific clients. Are they responding to emails or postcards? Are text reminders effective? You'll want a solution that lets you know and if you own multiple practices, you should be able to access data across all locations even if they're using different transaction codes.

Veterinarians go into practice to help animals and their owners, not to manage communications campaigns. Implementing a strategic communications system helps you connect with today's pet owners, so you can stay focused on the well-being of their companions.


1. Packaged Facts U.S. Pet Market Outlook 2022-2023.

2. Tavin, A. 42% of Pet Owners Cut Back on Pet Spending Amid Pandemic. OppU. 27 July 2023. Accessed 23 Aug 2023. Available at:


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