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  • Writer's pictureFiona MacGillivray

Take my advice...or not

Striving to improve the health and welfare of the animals under our care is a primary objective in veterinary practice. Yet it can sometimes feel like a struggle to achieve this; some clients seem not to care about improving the situation, or they don’t seem to listen to the advice we provide.


How annoying!

How frustrating it can feel when we can clearly see what the problem is, have the knowledge and expertise to address the issue, provide robust evidence for how the solution will help, yet ultimately the owner does not do what we want them to do!


What this could look like in mixed practice

A client brings in an overweight pet that is struggling to walk and has difficulty breathing when exercising. Whilst on farm for a routine visit, you identify that a high percentage of the milking herd are lame.


In each case you point out the issue and give sound advice about how to approach the situation. You explain how and why that advice will help and even ask if they are happy to make the changes.

In response, the client might give positive signals (nod, smile or verbal agreement to implement the changes you suggested), which lead you to assume that you have helped address the issue and things will improve.


What happens next?

Here are some possible scenarios after you provided advice to the client/farmer on the situation:

  • the owner doesn’t return for a follow up consultation,

  • they ask to see a different vet at the practice,

  • excuses are given when you’re next on farm and the farmer seems defensive when pressed on why the changes haven’t been made.


Why might this have happened?!

To try and understand why such situations might arise and how we can improve them, it’s worth looking at the role of communication – both ours and theirs – and what influences behaviour change.

To find out more, read our next blog post about behaviour change.

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