The Do’s And Don’ts of Writing Veterinary Sympathy Cards

by Hunter Little

Differentiation within the veterinary industry can be seemingly hard to come by. Besides the traditional aesthetic indicators, like a unique interior/exterior design for your practice or a website that really stands out, veterinarians are all looking to provide the same kind of invaluable medical care for pets of all shapes and sizes. But finding a way to really stand out in the industry in an impactful manner without relying purely on those formerly-mentioned aesthetics is easier than you might think.

Veterinary sympathy cards, also known as condolence cards, are a uniquely personal aspect of veterinary customer service that can be easily overlooked but invaluable if done right and respectfully. Not only does it bring comfort to a grieving client, but sympathy cards have the potential to build customer loyalty by showing that your practice cares about the client as a person throughout the arc of veterinary care, even when there may no longer be a pet to care for. By sending a client a sympathy card, you- as a veterinarian- are recognizing and validating the unique and special bond shared between the client and their pet.

As positive and powerful as veterinary sympathy cards can be, there are a few steadfast do’s and don’ts you should be aware of that can make the difference between a personalized and heartfelt note of sympathy and a mechanical, almost-automated response.

The Do’s

  1. Always use the pet’s name.
  2. Be brief. A few meaningful, heartfelt sentences can make a world of difference.
  3. If possible, include a favorite personal memory of the pet. This reinforces the personal nature of the message and lets the client know that you and your staff cared for/remember the pet as a part of the family.
  4. Similarly, try to reference a positive trait about the pet. This, like a personal memory, demonstrates a personal relationship with the pet that a client might relate to.
  5. If possible, include a picture of the pet. This is another special touch that can further personalize the card.
  6. Make sure that each and every vet and staff member signs the sympathy card before it is sent. This is often an overlooked detail that helps a grieving client know that the entire practice shares in their grief and cares deeply about their pet.

The Don’ts

  1. Do not be long winded in your condolences. A grieving client simply wants to be comforted and know that you care.
  2. Never refer to the client’s pet as “your cat”, “your dog”, or “your pet”.
  3. Do your best to avoid using one phrase or message for every card. Sympathy cards can be easily found and purchased online, but try to avoid those that contain the same pre-written response for every card.
  4. This one may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s an important reminder nevertheless. Do not send the sympathy card attached to any kind of advertisement, invoice, etc. Even though sympathy cards help to build client loyalty, they are not a business opportunity.

If you’re having trouble finding inspiration or the right words to say, here are a few phrasing suggestions that might help:

  • “Best friends come in all breeds. (Pet’s Name) energy lit up any room he/she entered. May (Pet’s Name) memory continue to light up your heart with love and joy during this difficult time.”
  • “We are all so sorry for the loss of your sweet boy/girl, (Pet’s Name). He/she was a beautiful (species) and clearly a much-loved member of your family; we know he/she will be forever missed.”
  • “As you grieve, know that we are remembering you and your family and honoring the memory of (Pet’s Name). Sent with love and remembrance, our hearts go out to you and your family in this time of sorrow.”
  • “Losing a true friend is never easy. (Pet’s name) brought such joy and happiness to our staff, as we know he/she did to your family. Our sincerest condolences are with you and your family.”

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Hunter Little

Hunter Little graduated from Columbia University in 2016 with a degree in US History. He has worked in veterinary clinics owned by his family for years and is currently training for a chance at playing in the NFL.

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