The COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges to numerous industries, including veterinary and pet care. With a global lockdown in effect, we saw the way pets fit in our families, lives and communities change! People spent more time at home. If they had pets, this strengthened the bond shared between them. Pet owners had more time to observe changes in their pets and seek vet care for issues they may normally not have noticed. For those that didn’t have pets, the increased time at home allowed for welcoming new furry friends into their families. These changes created an influx of veterinary visits, an overworked/overextended veterinary team, as well as a growing pet owner population that views their pets as family members more than ever before.
But now that COVID is “over”—I think we can debate whether this will ever “end”—but at some point, we must start returning to some sort of normalcy. We must embrace the changes that COVID gave us, find a way to make things work and find a way to make it better! At Charlotte Companion Animal Hospital, we have taken a proactive approach, striving to embrace and even reverse the effects of COVID on our industry.
Over the last 15-20 years, we’ve seen the personality of “the pet owner” change. A generation or two ago, our pets were pets. They were kept outside. The vet visit was routine. We blindly trusted vets to care for our pets appropriately. Fast forward to now. Looking at pet owners collectively, we have become helicopter pet parents! Most owners want to be involved every step of the way in the care of their pet, from the moment they walk in the door.
With COVID, owners couldn’t do that. Most vet hospitals only saw appointments curbside. Owners would call from the parking lot, and a staff member would come to the car, collect a brief history and the patient, then return inside where an exam and procedures would be performed. Maybe the doctor returned to the car with the pet. Or maybe they just called the owner from inside to discuss. Or maybe there was no interaction with the doctor at all. This created a degree of distance and obscurity between pet owners and their vets. A pet owner couldn’t see the value in the service being provided. Some of this was a product of COVID, but some of it was due to the development of bad habits on the part of the veterinary industry in attempts to cope with an ever-growing demand.
From our opening day in November 2022, the doors of Charlotte Companion Animal Hospital have been completely open to owners. While there is always the option for curbside, we want to involve owners in the vet appointment experience from the moment they walk in the door. Our reception area is clean and welcoming with a beverage station and comfortable seating. We have specially designed comfort exam rooms, which are furnished to minimize stress and anxiety during veterinary visits for both patient and owner. The rooms have a home-like feel with couches, (washable) rugs and even a bookcase with light reading and warm decor. We use pheromone diffusers and gentle handling techniques to promote a sense of security and comfort for our furry patients. By reducing stress and fear, we can conduct thorough examinations and provide necessary treatments more effectively.
The pet owner experience doesn’t stop after entering an exam room. With a pet population growing in heart and size, it is essential that we as your vet team help support you with the knowledge and understanding of vet care. At Charlotte Companion, we understand that prioritizing client education, building trust and establishing effective means of communication is crucial for the success of this! We take the time to establish a welcoming, trusting and authentic bond with both pets and their owners. We actively listen to concerns, answer questions and provide guidance on pet care, prevention, behavior and training, among many things. By fostering open lines of communication, we aim to empower pet owners to make informed decisions about their pets' well-being and create a collaborative approach to pet healthcare. By being available via phone, text, email and through an online patient portal, we do our best to always be there for our families when needed.
By implementing these changes, a pet parent, fur-baby and veterinary staff are on the same team. Each pet and its physical exam is approached individually. A one-size-fits-all approach simply is not thorough medicine and has become increasingly frustrating for the new-age, post-COVID pet owner. Unfortunately, with increased vet visits, staff shortages and decreased mental health of our veterinary professionals, many hospitals have developed bad habits of providing generic medical care instead of an individualized approach to our pets, humans and families. This decreased quality of care allows for missed or delayed diagnoses, distrust of veterinary professionals and an increase in pet owner expenses.
At Charlotte Companion Animal Hospital, it is our passion to approach every pet and its family individually. Teamwork and open, honest communication are vital for this to happen. Our mission is to welcome you and your pets into our family where we strive to make you feel at home. We believe this is the way to not only break the bad habits developed during COVID but also to make the way we care for our pet patients and human clients better than ever.
Visit Charlotte Companion Animal Hospital today at CharlotteCompanion.com!