DVMs receive more visits than human doctors


DENVER—Veterinarians outrank physicians in number of visits, according to the 2004 National Survey of People and Pet Relationships released by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).

DENVER-Veterinarians outrank physicians in number of visits, according to the 2004 National Survey of People and Pet Relationships released by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).

Of 1,238 pet owners polled, 58 percent visit the veterinarian more. That's likely due to lack of communication between pets and their owners, AAHA President Dr. Dennis Feinberg says.

Table 1. how likely are you to risk your own life for your pet?

"It appears that people do not know if their pet is sick or not and tend to respond accordingly as there is limited communication," he says. "Pet owners also realize that their pet will not live as long as people, so they are trying to ensure that wellness and preventative care will maximize quality and longevity of life."

Other answers as to why people say they visit their veterinarian more than a family physician include fears about hearing bad news regarding their own health.

"Many times people are more reluctant to visit an MD because they do not want to know what is wrong, and also they tend to medicate themselves," Feinberg adds. "I have recently participated in pet owner focus groups, and this was also the response. For those reasons I was not surprised at the statistics."

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The survey was conducted via AAHA members in 37 states and four Canadian provinces.

Other findings

When traveling, 67 percent of pet owners polled say they bring their pet along. Of those traveling, 65 percent stay with family or friends, and 43 percent stay at a hotel or motel.

"This has been fairly consistent lately and reinforces the strengthening of the human-animal bond and the desire for people to include their pets in family trips," Feinberg says.

In addition, 94 percent say they take their pets for regular veterinary exams.

Thirty-five percent of polled pet owners say they obtained their pet through breeders. Second to breeders are shelters, ranking 20 percent by respondents, while 16 percent said through a friend or family, AAHA says.

Training pets

The most common training method was crate training, cited by 33 percent of the 1,202 responding pet owners. But 23 percent say they did not provide training for their pet, and 20 percent say they took advice from their veterinarian.


There were 969 responses to the question regarding visiting veterinary specialists. Of that number, 63 percent say they have not taken their pet to a board-certified specialist.

Of those survey respondents saying they have visited a specialist, surgeons (23 percent) were the most frequently cited.

Other issues

Of those responding, 80 percent were women, and 20 percent were men. As far as preparing for emergencies, 55 percent of those polled say they have a plan that includes their pet, while 45 say they do not.

"These polls help AAHA communicate more accurately with the pet owning public," Feinberg says. "This is done through the AAHA public Web site, and articles are written with the results of these surveys in mind."

The results were scheduled for publication by AAHA in December.

"Evolution is the continuing integral role pets play in the lives of pet owners and current state of the human-animal bond," Feinberg says.

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