A new study is investigating the reasons behind the declining frequency of veterinary visits by cats and dogs—and seeking to identify ways to reverse the trend.
Bayer Animal Health and Brakke Consulting announced the research initiative in early September. They are collaborating on the project with the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues.
Annual veterinary visits per cat and per dog decreased between 2001 and 2006, according to the AVMA's U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook. Dogs averaged 1.5 visits in 2006, down from 1.9 visits in 2001. Cats averaged 0.7 visits in 2006, down from one visit on average in 2001.
The new research initiative will examine pet owners' perceptions of the need for veterinary care, obstacles to scheduling office visits, and the role of other channels for pet health information and products. The study will involve pet owners of all economic levels and major ethnicities as well as companion animal veterinarians.
Bayer and Brakke expect to complete the fieldwork for the project by Thanksgiving and to have preliminary results by the end of 2010.
"The research results should give veterinarians the information they need to better understand recent trends in pet owner behavior, which will help them to develop strategies to increase veterinary care," said Ron Brakke, president and founder of Brakke Consulting.