Survey #1 - Consumer Expectations Related to Veterinary Services

Highlights from the December 2018 UVSA Industry Insights Survey were presented in January 2019 as part of the VMX 2019 “State of the Profession” panel. This inaugural UVSA survey provides a client perspective on veterinary services by addressing new-generation pet owner attitudes, diversifying patterns for use of veterinary services, and purchasing trends for pet medications as a flash point in the competition for pet care dollars and customer loyalty.

  • 66% of dog owners keep them inside only (other than walks or letting dogs out), with another 17% keeping their dogs mostly but not always inside, reflecting the “pet as members of the household” era is that two-thirds
  • Dog adoption tilts toward smaller rather than larger dogs, in keeping with indoor and urban lifestyles. Among survey respondents who had recently acquired a new dog, a third (32%) adopted small dogs of 8-24 lbs. Medium- and large-sized dogs (based on adult dog size) each accounted for about a fourth of new pet dogs, with toy- or giant-sized dogs at the extremes accounting for single-digit shares.
  • Although dogs and cats are acquired in various ways, pet rescue/welfare organizations have become the single most important source. The adoption of strays in also notable, especially for cats, reflecting the importance of animal welfare to current pet owner mindsets.
  • The vast majority of dog owners (86%) report having a veterinarian that they go to, a figure that notches somewhat lower among cat owners (75%).
  • Among dog and cat owners who use veterinary services, four-fifths go to a traditional local, independent vet. The remainder use alternatives including chain veterinarians and mobile or pop-up clinics, formats expected to continuing growing in market share.
  •  A third (34%) of pet owners strongly agree and another third somewhat agreeing that they like the idea of veterinary services being located at pet specialty stores such as PetSmart or Petco. Pet owners are only somewhat less receptive to the idea of veterinary services located at general retailers such as Walmart.
  • 60% of pet owners strongly or somewhat agreeing that they use the Internet for price shopping and finding the best deals for pet products, as do 52% of pet owners in the case of flea and tick medications.
  • 48% percent of pet owners strongly or somewhat agree that they are buying pet products online more than they used to, compared with 35% strongly or somewhat disagreeing. The migration of pet product and pet medication sales to ecommerce has been substantial but fragmented across pet specialty and general market retailers and websites.
  • As with choice of type of veterinarian, price and convenience play key roles in the decision to buy pet medications online, rather than through the veterinary channel.