Survey results show the current state of the veterinary profession


New data reveals how veterinarians feel about the industry and the challenges they face

Photo courtesy of Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets.

Photo courtesy of Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets.

A survey conducted on behalf of Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets, analyzed 301 companion animal and mixed animal veterinarians practicing in the United States with 20 or more hours worked per week. Data were collected by Relevation Research through an online survey, March 5 to 12, 2024.1

Overall, the data showed that most veterinarians still have a profound dedication for the profession, but factors like extended work hours, student debt, staffing shortages, fatigue, and more are creating challenges. Some pros of the veterinary profession include the following based on survey results:1

  • 57% of respondents said their desire to become veterinarians began in elementary school or earlier, which mostly came from the goal to make pets' lives better.
  • 87% chose “saving and improving the lives of pets” as a fulfilling attribute of being a veterinarian.
    • 60% chose “improving the lives of pet owners.”
    • 53% chose “contributing to society and playing an important role in the community.”

Some cons of the veterinary profession include the following based on survey results:1

  • More than 80% of participants said they encounter clients, at least once a month, who are unable to pay for treatment of a pet's life-threatening health issue.
    • 37% said they are faced with such situations once a week or more.
  • 95% of participants reported that having clients who cannot afford appropriate veterinary care is one of the challenges they currently face.
  • 95% said they have experienced an instance in which a client made the decision to euthanize a pet because the of client’s financial situation.
    • As a solution to this, 78% said they limit the care they provide, while 23% provide the veterinary care and absorb the cost with their practice budget.
    • Both of these solutions require sacrifices from veterinarians, whether it’s emotional or financial.
      • 45% of veterinarians feel they are not fully upholding the oath they took to care for animals when financial situations like these happen.

"These results reflect the sense of disillusionment we know is felt by so many practitioners in the veterinary profession today," Callie Harris, DVM, senior veterinary communications manager for Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets, said in a release.1 "Veterinarians enter the profession because of our call to care for pets, but economic realities frequently force us to make painful choices about the care we can provide to certain patients."

To help support veterinarians facing these challenges and other barriers, Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets launched the Pro Plan Veterinary Support Mission program. So far, the brand has donated $1.2 million to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation REACH (Reaching Every Animal with Charitable Healthcare) Program, which provides grants for veterinarians who have clients experiencing financial difficulties. The program is available to all members of the American Veterinary Medical Association and can provide financial grants of up to $2000 per calendar year for each veterinarian in a practice to reimburse the cost for owners unable to pay for care.1

"If you ask any member of a veterinary team why they started in this industry, they will tell you it's for their love of animals, but you quickly realize, you are taking care of the people, just as much as you are the animals. There is nothing more heartbreaking than having an animal come in need of life-saving care and having to explain to the family their beloved pet will not survive without the emergency services they need but cannot afford,” Kerry Wagoner, CVT, hospital director of FloridaWild Integrative Veterinary Center & Urgent Care in DeLand, Florida, said in the release.1


Upholding their oath: Veterinarians balance purpose with practicality. News release. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets. April 25, 2024. April 30, 2024.

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