“Changing client behaviour is an important part of practice and students should be equipped with the skills to do this”, says David Main, BVA Animal Welfare Foundation Senior Lecturer in Animal Welfare.

“Are we service providers reacting to the clients’ wants, or are we animal advocates proactively trying to improve the welfare of animals in our (or is it their?!) care? If we are justified in trying to influence the care provided by our clients then shouldn’t we teach all new graduates selling skills in order to promote the uptake of our well-meaning advice?”

Are veterinarians justified in marketing their advice? How would you feel if your family doctor not only sold foods and supplements in his lobby, but was also armed with superior marketing skills – would you think this to be OK or would you start to question just how much influence he wants to have over your health, and more importantly, why?

Call me paranoid, but with the great deal of control that pharmaceutical and dog food companies yield over many veterinarians, I am certainly not comfortable with being a target of their marketing campaign. If I read between the lines, I would think that vets want greater control over us and our dogs – and we already know the pharmaceutical companies and dog food manufacturers want greater control over the vets.

This is just one more reason to arm yourself with knowledge and know what your comfort level is before discussing treatment options with your vet. It is hard enough for many people to communicate their thoughts and ideas to their vets, and if they add marketing to the veterinary school curriculum, it is only going to be harder. Read our latest Feature Article, Agree To Disagree: Working With Your Vet for some tips on how to better communicate with your vet.