A group of veterinarians were discussing the challenges of client trust. Mention was made of ‘a great’ pet food (made with feed/waste ingredients) and mention was made of ‘those internet so-called experts’ giving bad advice. That’s when I just had to speak up.
I just returned from an pet industry event where attendees broke up into smaller group discussions. This particular discussion began with some of the challenges our veterinarians face. Of the approximate 15 member group – I estimate 5 or 6 were veterinarians. Part of the discussion focused on cost to consumers of good veterinary care, but then the discussion went towards consumer confidence in their veterinarian. What to do about failing consumer confidence.
One participant (a veterinarian) mentioned pet food sales and specifically mentioned Purina Dog Chow stating it was a “great food”. Then another veterinarian mentioned “those so called experts” on the internet giving consumers bad information about nutrition. Last straw…my two cents. This is what I shared with them…
I am one of ‘those so called internet experts’ – I provide pet food consumers information of pet food regulations (law), ingredient definitions, loopholes of law and more. By the way, this ‘so called internet expert’ provides pet food consumers a voice with FDA and I hold advisory positions on two AAFCO committees. Briefly – in case you folks are unaware – there are two very different types of pet food. There is feed grade ingredient pet foods – which can be made from the most hideous waste you can imagine – such as rejected for human food diseased animals, chemically tainted or pesticide laden grains, fruits and vegetables. And there is food grade ingredient pet foods – made from the same quality of foods that you purchase in the grocery. What I do is explain this to consumers- educate pet food consumers to these very distinct types of pet foods.
What consumers tell me, is that when they learn the difference between feed grade pet foods and food grade pet foods they are appalled when their trusted veterinarian tells them a feed grade food is a great food. Consumers simply cannot understand how any medical professional can say eating diseased animal tissue or toxic mold laden grains or chemically tainted vegetables is a good choice in pet food. More emphasis is put on the ‘complete and balanced’ claim than actually what feed/food and supplements are used to achieve that ‘complete and balanced’ diet. Trust is destroyed. You want consumer trust? Learn what these consumers – your clients – have already learned.
Consumers learn from those ‘internet experts’ quoting veterinarian science the risks of over vaccination only to have trust be destroyed again when their personal vet wants to vaccinate over and over again never encouraging titer testing.
I understand that veterinarians have many things on their plate – learning new surgical techniques, learning about new drug treatments, managing employees, managing a business – but you mentioned the concern of consumer trust… I share this to give you one possible reason as to why the trust is failing.
My comments didn’t go over well – there was a silence after I spoke and the topic was quickly changed. But I left the discussion hopeful that I gave them something to think about. I hope they seek out information of feed grade ingredient and food grade ingredient pet foods. I hope they learn more of the risks to over vaccination. And I hope they begin to share that information with their clients.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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