To better bond clients with your practice and see a stronger top line, start tackling one of the biggest health problems facing our patients today—obesity.  We all know a large percentage of pets are overweight and that obesity will lead to conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis.  If your practice commits to reducing pet obesity through proper work-ups and by making nutritional and related counseling a priority, you’ll have healthier patients, happier clients and grow your practice.

Get team members behind your program by emphasizing with them their role in combating preventable disease.  Every team member can participate in the process.  Your exam room assistants should be comfortable taking a full patient lifestyle history and evaluating and scoring each patients’ body condition.  Doctors need to educate clients about the dangers of pet obesity and counsel owners about proper nutrition and exercise without offending.  As we know, many clients overfeed their pets out of love and don’t realize they may be adversely affecting their pets’ health.  The front desk team should be knowledgeable regarding diet options and pet treats so they can support your efforts.

That fat cat or chunky canine in your exam room may have underlying disease that contributed to the pet’s body condition and/or already may have sub-clinical illness as a consequence of being overweight.  Counsel their owners about the importance of acquiring a minimum data base, including a CBC, chemistry panel, UA and ancillary tests as indicated by the pet’s presentation.  Once you are armed with this information create a weight reduction program for the pet.  Prescription diets can be marketed by the practice as a weight reduction tool.  Educate clients that not only are these diets nutritionally complete, when fed appropriately they can be more economical than premium diets the owner already may be feeding.  If the pet has underlying disease of course perform follow-up diagnostics and develop a treatment plan.

Initiating a “stamp out pet obesity” program will better bond clients to your practice.  Ask clients to check in with you every two weeks for a complimentary pet “weigh in”.  Consider a “biggest loser” contest.  Ask clients if they would like their pets to participate.  With the permission of each client feature before and after pet photos and regular contest updates on your practice Facebook page.  Extend the reach of your efforts to pet owners in your community.  Work with other pet related businesses and sponsor a dog walk for the purposes of emphasizing the value of exercise for the well-being of pets.  If you focus on combating pet obesity, you can help your patients and grow your practice.

Carol Hart