Whether you have a fledgling veterinary practice or you’ve been in business for many years, integrating complementary medicine into your practice may be a smart move. With pet owners spending more on their ‘fur babies’ every year and the industry continuing to grow, there’s never been a more important time to stand out from the crowd, target the most engaged market segment and help increase your revenue.
Integrative veterinary medicine combines traditional veterinary medicine with alternative therapies such as:
These therapies take a different approach to care, but unfortunately aren’t necessarily as researched or results-documented as other aspects of traditional veterinary medicine. WebMD’s “Fetch” asked veterinarians who use some of these therapies and they tend to use them when conventional therapies have failed, for example, when treating dogs for chronic pain. They offer the alternative therapies as “complementary” therapies alongside conventional treatments.
If this is something you want to offer your clients, you can treat it as a form of bespoke service allowing them to extend their personal wellness philosophies to their pets. This can be especially attractive to a generation of pet owners who treat their pets more like members of the family than ever.
To practice holistic medicine for pets, you will need to understand what is allowed and/or how licensing requirements apply in your state. You will also need to undertake specific training in order to provide the best quality service. As with learning veterinary medicine, this can take time and money and you may need to invest in extra equipment required such as hydraulic treatment tables, acupuncture needles and exercise equipment. However, offering such a unique service will allow you to set your own complementary therapy fees based on market demand, and potentially pay off your investment quickly.
If you’d prefer to keep your costs low, you can also embrace integrative medicine by partnering with local complementary therapists who treat pets and refer your clients when necessary. You should also consider keeping their brochures and promotional materials in your waiting room or mention them on your website, and inviting them to do the same. As well as providing your clients with the holistic services they need, it can also help broaden your marketing efforts without placing any strain on your existing budget.
When adding complementary services to your practice, you will need to designate space to carry out these holistic treatments. However, there’s no need to build separate premises for this purpose. Many veterinary practices have existing examination rooms that could be easily repurposed on both a temporary or permanent basis. By adding inexpensive features like soft lighting, comfortable furnishings and calm music that can be added and removed as needed, you can create the ideal treatment space
The same approach applies to finding adequately trained staff to carry out the treatments. Your existing veterinary nurse or technician may be able to carry out many of the treatments or retrain where necessary, depending on the therapy and the licensing requirements. This has the added benefit of keeping everything ‘in house’ and ensuring that your veterinary clients receive the same high standard of care whether choosing conventional or alternative treatments.
Millennials continue to be the biggest spenders in the pet industry, spending an estimated $1,201 per year on their dogs and $687 on their cats. They’re also more likely to splash out on luxuries for their pets such as daycare, pet clothing and alternative therapies. This makes them your ideal target audience to promote any integrative veterinary medicine services you may offer. Consider using social media platforms such as Instagram to stay connected, offer options for online booking and keep your website well-maintained for best results.
If a fit for your practice, adding complementary therapies to your veterinary services may help you stand out in an increasingly crowded market, provide a better standard of service to your clients and increase your potential revenue.