Maximizing Success with Supplements


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How to help your clients understand the potential clinical and revenue gains they’d see through offering veterinary exclusive products to pet owners.

The potential revenue for veterinary clinics that take a team-based approached in discussing nutritional supplementation to their clients is significant, said Tom Murrell, national sales director, Nutramax Laboratories Veterinary Sciences, Inc.

“We have examined one of the larger supplement categories and found that approximately 2 out of every 10 pets that could benefit from a supplement in this category are actually on a supplement,” Murrell said. “We believe with a comprehensive veterinary clinic approach that this compliance could easily double. This is why we believe that including all members of the veterinary clinic staff in educational seminars is so important.”

Market potential

Murrell said his organization believes there is a strong positive trajectory in the nutritional supplement market. Many pet parents are interested in exploring the use of nutritional supplements before turning to a more pharmaceutical based solution. Even with this, market data suggests that still a small percentage of pets parents are giving supplements to their pets, Murrell said. Because of this the growth trajectory is strong.

Of course, the sustained growth of the nutritional supplement industry is not without its share of potential pitfalls. As more players jump into the space, there is the risk of a decrease in the quality of the products that are available to consumers. These products may have failed quality testing, don’t meet the label claims, or could even be contaminated, and still end up in the hands of pet owners. It’s important for veterinarians to consider which products they offer clients and the reputation of the manufacturers they work with.

Competing with big box retailers for this category of pet spend can be a difficult task for veterinary clinics. However, Murrell said it can be done. He and his team often recommend the following:

  • Talk with the nutritional supplement manufacturer sales representative and identify if they have a veterinary exclusive line of nutritional supplement products.
  • The veterinary clinic team should also ask their sales rep about the features and benefits to confirm what makes these products more beneficial to the pet parent and pet in comparison to the big box store options (ingredients, dosing, price per day, bioavailability, shorter amount of time it takes to notice a positive change in pet, etc.).
  • Discuss the importance of quality. There have been concerns about the quality of nutritional supplement products that may be found in big box retailers based off older studies, Murrell said. Pet owners should know that not every product is of the same quality.
  • Veterinary clinics should evaluate the implementation of an MSRP that will make them price competitive with the big box retailers. It may not always be possible, but there are supplement lines that are best positioned to help veterinarians accomplish this, Murrell said.
  • Think outside the box. For example, Murrell knows of a clinic that uses Door Dash for same-day delivery to the pet owner’s home.

Eliminating hesitancy

There are several reasons veterinary clinics may be hesitant to offer pet supplements to their clients. For instance, veterinarians may be concerned whether the nutritional supplements have research backing their usage. “We recommend that every veterinary clinic has this discussion with their nutritional supplement manufacturer sales representative and the manufacturer’s professional service veterinarian team,” Murrell said.

Cost of the product can be another factor. Again, this comes back to having conversations with the manufacturer sales representatives about the “true” cost of using a supplement, Murrell said. “Many times there is a perceived cost and in the end isn’t actually the cost,” he said. “Once cost is broken down, many find supplements to be very affordable.”

Finally, some veterinarians are concerned about quality. Most veterinary clinics are aware that there is no government regulation of the supplement industry. Thus, some can hesitate to look at supplements as options.

“Sales representatives should discuss studies, invite veterinary professionals to visit their manufacturing facilities, and provide access to veterinary specialists in the category of interest (orthopedics, internal medicine, GI, behavior, dermatology, etc),” Murrell said.


What to ask

  • Questions to better frame the supplement conversation with veterinary clinics:
  • How are you currently supporting the animals you see that have (name of the issue)?
  • What is working well with this protocol?
  • Thoughts on what you feel could potentially be improved with your current protocol?
  • What supplements have you evaluated/used in the past?
  • Where do you recommend your clients go to purchase supplements?
  • What hesitations (if any) do you have about using supplements?


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