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Petco dives deeper into veterinary medicine

The retailer’s first PetCoach store and clinic opens in Southern California. More are on the way.

Petco dives deeper into veterinary medicine
Petco intends to “test and learn” from the PetCoach store in San Marcos, California, as it moves forward with plans for other locations, a spokesperson said.

Petco has opened the first PetCoach, a combination veterinary hospital, pet supplies store and service provider.

The store was launched July 17 in San Marcos, California, not far from Petco’s San Diego headquarters. The retailer plans to convert an undisclosed number of Petco stores nationwide into PetCoach locations.

“With PetCoach, we’re reinventing the idea of a traditional pet store by providing complete care experiences — from grooming, training and day care to full-service veterinary care — that simply can’t be delivered by mail or by a mass retailer,” Petco CEO Ron Coughlin said.

PetCoach veterinarians perform diagnostics, spays and neuters, and other outpatient surgical procedures. Mobile house calls are made using PetCoach-branded vans.

For patients requiring a higher level of care, “We will partner with a local emergency veterinary hospital as well as other veterinary specialists to support any special needs or procedures we’re unable to address, including overnight hospitalization when needed,” said Christie Long, DVM, the director of veterinary medicine at Petco and PetCoach’s chief veterinarian.

One draw for pet owners are multiple service opportunities. Besides grooming, training and day care, PetCoach provides self-wash stations and nutrition advice.

“Every ‘Pet Coach’ in the store has been trained and certified in pet nutrition and will be well-equipped to coach our guests on the best ways to address their pets’ basic nutritional needs,” Dr. Long said. “For pets with health concerns, our Pet Coaches will be able to provide a seamless referral to one of our onsite licensed veterinarians.”

The PetCoach business model includes a subscription veterinary program. For $9 a month, a client receives up to five office visits a year, $2 self-washes, $4.99 phone or online consultations, product discounts, and lower-priced training, grooming and day care. Standard prices are $30 for an office visit or remote consultation, $14 for a self-wash, $149 for a group training class and $35 for day care.

PetCoach has a digital component as well.

“Pet parents can create custom pet profiles, book in-store service appointments and get tailored reminders, access immediate professional pet health advice from licensed veterinarians, order from a vet-vetted selection of pet food and supplies, and search an extensive library of content relevant to their pet,” the company reported.

Petco representatives were recruiting veterinarians and veterinary nurses in July during the American Veterinary Medical Association convention in Denver. Selected Petco stores are home to Thrive Affordable Vet Care and The Pet Vet hospitals and Vetco vaccination clinics.

A typical PetCoach hospital will employ three veterinarians, five or six veterinary nurses, and a receptionist.

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