Client anxiety and the true cost of owning a pet


Learn the medical issues that cause the greatest concern for clients

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Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: In 2020, people spent $109.6 billion with a B dollars.

Peter Weinstein, DVM, MBA: Yes.

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: Incredible. Do you think it's going to be rising?

Peter Weinstein, DVM, MBA: It is going to be rising. And I think $34 billion of that was veterinary care. So those numbers are projected to increase in 2021. I think those numbers are probably going to push $112 billion. But those numbers continue to rise as the importance of pets in people's lives continues to escalate as well. And we know how important people pets were, excuse me, to people over the pandemic, from a mental health standpoint, and I think we're learning more and more about how relevant pets are in the health of people in general.

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: Yeah. Another great finding from the lifetime of care research, too, Peter is over the course of year 1—just year 1—pet owners can expect to spend upwards of $2,800. Dog owners can expect to spend between $1300 to $2100 in the first year, and cat owners $960 to $2500 in the first year. That's impressive. That really is. I didn't realize that in the first year, you think of preventive care, it adds up, really adds up, right?

Peter Weinstein, DVM, MBA: Well, if you if you look at that first 6 to 9 months or a year in the cost of of raising a puppy or kitten, you've got all the well-care needs, the vaccinations, the deworming, the microchips, the deflea medications, the heartworm medications, and then you have the desexing surgeries that come along in that first year. It all adds up. And then you throw in the unexpected vomiting, diarrhea, something they shouldn't have eaten, you know, whatever the problems that occur in that first year, none of those numbers should be surprising to us as veterinarians. It's when you actually look at them on paper that says, "Oh, my god, does it really all add up to that much?" And it does.

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: It really does. What, I mean, I want to ask you, what was one of the most surprising things you uncovered? For me when I read that I was really surprised that 45% of dog owners 38% of cat owners thought they were financially ready for pet expenses, but we're not.

Peter Weinstein, DVM, MBA: Yeah, I think that number and the the price points were the 2 points that indicated to me that we have had a very fortunate situation in veterinary care and veterinary services that we're able to take care of pet owners, and we're able to take care of their pets. But what we don't know is are we really taking care of them and understanding their concerns and what kind of sacrifices pet owners make, just to be able to take care of their four legged family members? So I think those numbers indicate a greater need for us to have even greater empathy and compassion for the sacrifices our pet owners make, to be able to provide optimal care for their pets.

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: I've had so many pet owners that would actually save up knowing that they were hoping to get an income tax check return, just to provide the care. And we were noticing a large uptake of wellness visits and the April, May area of dental cleanings and so forth, just because they want to invest. If it's either putting food on the table, sometimes for their kids, there's so many options that they have to think about, but they're willing to invest in the care of their fur baby, when they'll do whatever means they can for that. I think that's really impressive. And so how many veterinarians did you work with on this research?

Peter Weinstein, DVM, MBA: I believe there was 100 to 120 veterinarians that actually screened the research, reviewed the surveys and made sure that the information in the data was was accurate. There's a...if you go to pet lifetime of, you can get an look at that study. And it shows a bubble graph of the most significant concerns, what diagnoses what treatments would cause what medical issues had the greatest...caused the greatest anxiety for pet owners, things like hit by car, emergency visits, and things of that nature. So it helps you, as a veterinarian, understand where the pet owners are coming from, where their greatest concerns are. And it may, it may change the way you have a conversation, knowing that, okay, hit-by-car pet owners are going to have a great deal of concerns from a medical standpoint. But also how much is this going to cost standpoint, right?

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: Yeah, absolutely. So there are about 1200 pet owners who that were based on that study as well. So so how does this differ from other cost of pet ownership data that's currently available?

Peter Weinstein, DVM, MBA: I think you can get individual ownership data and pet cost of care data, you can get it from the American Pet Products Association that looks at that's where that $109 billion came from. They do some of those studies, but I don't think anybody has done a cumulative study of all of the different silos in veterinary care and animal care, that include the food and the toys and veterinary services and grooming , and other things. So it's probably the most inclusive study that was donethat I've seen from that standpoint.

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: Yeah.

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