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Is “Dr. Google” Replacing the Veterinarian?

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Many veterinarians have expressed concern about pet owners using the internet to seek advice about pet healthcare rather than visiting a veterinarian for an examination of their pet by a professional. Veterinarians fear that pet owners may even reduce their visits to the clinic due to the abundance of information readily available online. These concerns are understandable. But need veterinarians fret?

A study conducted by Trone Brand Energy discovered that pet owners trust their veterinarians’ information on caring for their pets’ health more than any other channel and by a wide margin at that. 81% of pet owners highly trust their veterinarians compared to 47% who highly trust their family and friends (which was the second most trusted source of information). How did online information sources fare? Veterinarians will be relieved to see that only 31% of pet owners highly trust online information sources. In other words, pet owners were 2.6 times more likely to trust their veterinarians for information on caring for their pets’ health than “Dr. Google!”

Additionally, pet owners indicated that they consult their veterinarians or veterinary staff nearly twice as often as online sources when seeking information about caring for their pets’ health. 45% of pet owners very frequently consult their veterinarians or veterinary staff compared to 25% who most often turn to online sources.

Another study conducted by Trone Brand Energy found a surprising related trend. Pet owners who rank in the top 25% in frequency of consulting the internet on an array of seven different pet topics also visit their veterinarians more often. 57% of them visit their veterinarians at least twice per year compared to 46% of other pet owners.

The good news is this: veterinarians need not fear “Dr. Google.” Not only do pet owners trust and utilize their veterinarians more than “Dr. Google,” the pet owners who most often consult the internet are actually the most engaged with their real-life veterinarians!

Rather than resist their clientele’s use of “Dr. Google,” veterinarians would be well-advised to embrace the information super highway. Other research from Trone Brand Energy has indicated that pet owners highly value transparency from their veterinarians. This transparency with their clientele develops more loyal and trusted relationships, which can even garner the sales of additional services. Veterinarians who aren’t reticent to discuss, consult about and supplement the information their clients are finding online will reap the benefits of stronger, longer lasting client relationships.

For more pet health insights, contact Kimberly Ness at kness@trone.com or 336-819-6933. For more information about our pet practice visit our pet product marketing page