Today’s Veterinary Business Staff
Americans are big fans of small dogs.
A survey conducted by the market research firm Packaged Facts found that nearly half of U.S. pet owners care for a small or very small dog, a trend that presents opportunities for veterinarians.
The first-quarter survey found that 32 percent of pet owners who had recently acquired a dog chose a small one — 8 to 24 pounds — and that 9 percent took in a very small, or toy, dog. Overall, 47 percent of U.S. households had a small or toy-size dog.
The Packaged Facts report stated that the trend away from medium, large and giant canines has the potential of refocusing the practice of veterinary medicine.
“Large-breed dogs are more prone to arthritis, hip dysplasia and twisted stomachs, and small-breed dogs are more prone to diabetes mellitus, periodontal disease and dislocated kneecaps,” Packaged Facts noted.
Veterinarians looking to boost retail sales might want to entice owners of smaller dogs through crates and kennels, training pads, beds, and odor and cleaning products.
The report, “Pet Industry Outlook: Veterinary Services and Pet Product Retailing,” also found:
- The U.S. veterinary services market reached $26.9 billion in sales in 2017, an increase of 6.3 percent from the previous year.
- The total number of veterinary care establishments across the United States was 31,205 in 2016. They employed 353,651 people at a payroll expense of $13.2 billion.
- Forty-two percent of dog owners and 44 percent of cat owners have a pet aged 7 years or older — another opportunity for veterinarians. “Older pets mean that more companion animals need medical treatment and therapeutic products for age-related conditions,” Packaged Facts stated.
- Independent hospitals are the predominant practice type. While consolidators have gobbled up existing clinics, multipractice operations make up just 11 to 13 percent of U.S. animal hospitals.
- Veterinary hospitals can compete with brick-and-mortar stores and online merchants when it comes to product sales if clinics matched prices and were “willing to engage more aggressively” in retailing. The Packaged Facts survey discovered that 62 percent of pet owners would “purchase more pet medications from my veterinarian” if more competitive prices were offered.
- Pet owners rely on their veterinarians for advice. About two-thirds of dog and cat owners look to a practitioner for guidance on pet food, 8 in 10 trust what the veterinarian says about heartworm and flea and tick medications, and half want to know what the professional thinks about treats.
- Corporate practices that operate at large retailers such as Petco, PetSmart and Walmart present referral opportunities for independent practices and specialists. Packaged Facts quoted Petco’s director of veterinary medicine, Whitney Miller, DVM, MBA, as saying: “We definitely have limitations with our in-store clinics that would require referral. For example, being in a retail space, we are not going to be hospitalizing animals overnight for any reason, so obviously that’s going to be referred out to local specialty or emergency hospitals, and potentially a general practitioner if they offer that service.”
More information about the report is available at http://bit.ly/2xJC7H8.