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Educating Clients During Pet Emergencies and Urgent Care

Educating Clients During Pet Emergencies and Urgent Care

Few situations are more stressful and emotionally charged than a pet emergency. And as a veterinary practice, you’re smack dab in the middle of it. So, your ability to navigate these high-stakes situations not only impacts the health and well-being of your patients but also plays a critical role in shaping the client experience. And according to a review published in BMC Veterinary Research, most veterinarians could use some help with their client communication skills.

Handle them well and you can quickly build long-term relationships with clients who continuously trust your expertise. Let’s talk about how you can educate your clients to make them more comfortable during one of the most stressful times of their lives.

Preparing Clients Before an Emergency Occurs

Before an emergency even occurs, you play a crucial role in educating your clients about pet emergencies before they occur. You can provide valuable resources and encourage preparation to help pet owners feel more confident when faced with an emergency scenario. Here are a few ways you can help your clients prepare:

  • Provide Emergency Recognition Resources: Develop clear and concise client educational materials like brochures, blog posts, or videos. These resources can highlight common signs and symptoms of pet emergencies while emphasizing the importance of prompt intervention. Also, include information in the RCVS emergency care guidance on owner responsibilities to add extra authority.
  • Help Clients Establish an Emergency Plan: Advise clients to create a written emergency plan. You can even help them create it during their regular check-up. In the plan, make sure they include your practice’s contact information, a 24/7 emergency veterinary hospital, and a backup contact person who can make decisions about their pet’s care if needed.
  • Promote Pet Insurance or Emergency Funds: Pet emergencies are more than scary, they’re also expensive. Help your clients prepare for these emergencies by suggesting pet insurance or at least an emergency fund. Provide guidance on which pet insurance companies are good and suggest an amount they should have saved in their emergency fund.

Provide Transparent Pricing From Your Clinic

When a pet requires urgent care, the last thing a client wants to worry about is the cost of treatment. That means you need to take the money discussion out of the equation. But, as a veterinary practice, it’s essential to be transparent about pricing and help clients understand their payment options.

Provide Comparisons to Your Competition

To help your clients understand the cost of emergency care, keep a document on hand that outlines your prices along with your competitors. This lets clients quickly look to see that you’re not taking advantage of them during their time of need. Even if your costs are a bit higher than the competition, most clients will take your honesty as a sign of trust.

Explain the Factors that Influence Costs

Help clients understand the various factors that contribute to the cost of emergency care. Whether it’s the complexity of the case, the need for specialised equipment or expertise, or the duration of treatment, an understanding of what goes on behind the scenes will make your clients more comfortable with the cost. Help them understand the difference between cost and value at your practice.

Discuss Payment Options

Clearly communicate the payment options available at your practice, such as cash, credit card, or payment plans. Then, talk about any financial assistance programs they can sign up for to help them offset the cost. They could be through government programs, pet welfare organisations, or breed-specific rescue groups.

Showcase Your Unique Strengths Without a Sales Approach

When a pet needs urgent care, clients want to feel confident that they’re entrusting their beloved companion to a skilled, compassionate, and well-equipped veterinary team. Here are a few ways you can showcase your strengths without sounding like a salesperson:

  • Highlight Your Team’s Expertise: It’s okay to be proud of your team’s skills. Complimenting your staff as a way to showcase your clinic’s expertise makes clients feel like you’re proud of the work you do.
  • Describe the Technology and Facilities You Use: Giving a clear explanation of any technology or facilities their pet needs during an urgent care scenario helps them know they’re getting the best care they can. It won’t sound like selling as long as you stick to the reasons you’d use it for their case.
  • Emphasize Your Commitment to Compassionate Care: Highlight your practice’s philosophy of providing not just expert medical care, but also compassionate, individualized attention to each pet and client. But, instead of telling them, show them how you do it. Discuss your follow-up plan after the treatment. Reassure them that the emergency is not their fault. And of course, take good care of their pet.

Remember, the goal is not to boast or exaggerate your practice’s capabilities, but rather to provide clients with a clear, honest, and compelling picture of what sets your practice apart.

Always Follow Up After the Emergency

Following up with clients after an emergency is a critical step in providing ongoing support for the owner. By prioritising post-emergency communication and care, you can strengthen client relationships, improve patient outcomes, and demonstrate your practice’s commitment to exceptional service.

At-Home Care

So, before the client leaves your practice, provide them with detailed, written instructions for their pet’s at-home care. This should include information on medications, wound care, activity restrictions, and follow-up appointments. Take the time to review these instructions verbally with the client, answering any questions and ensuring that they feel confident in their ability to provide appropriate care at home.

Follow-Up Appointments

Once they understand their post-care duties, start working on scheduling a follow-up visit. Explain what each follow-up visit entails and what they should expect from each visit. Then, send reminder messages to clients via email, text, or phone to help ensure that they keep their follow-up appointments. Short reminders of their at-home care duties are always helpful too!

Check Ins

After your client leaves your clinic, send them a quick check-in message a few days later. You can even use an app dedicated to client communication. Ask them about their pet’s progress and address any concerns or questions they have. Use these check-ins as an opportunity to reassure clients, provide additional guidance, and demonstrate your practice’s ongoing commitment to their pet’s well-being.


Client education is a powerful tool that can make all the difference in the outcome for both the patient and the pet owner. It lets you help pet owners feel more informed, empowered, and confident in their ability to navigate urgent care situations. When successfully done, you can build long-term relationships with your emergency care clients who will trust every word you say.