Survey asks how pet owners will respond to an economic downturn

Published on February 15, 2008
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In an uncertain economy, pet owners say they are far more likely to curtail spending on luxury items and electronics—and even groceries and household goods—than on care or supplies for their companion animals.

The finding is from a December survey of 665 pet owners, including 602 people who owned a dog or cat, by Fleishman-Hillard International Communications. Fleishman-Hillard, a public relations firm that works with animal care companies, released survey results in late January during the North American Veterinary Conference.

Survey respondents said they would be most likely to cut back on pet fashions, toys, and the services of pet walkers, sitters, and groomers if they had to curtail spending on their pets.

Nevertheless, nearly a third of the respondents said they might cut back on veterinary visits and preventive medicine if they faced financial constraints.

"The key to preventing this shift—and its detrimental effects on pets—will be client education," said Doug Bell, Fleishman-Hillard senior vice president.

"We know that veterinarians' recommendations carry the greatest weight with pet owners when making decisions about their pets. If a recession hits in 2008, veterinarians and their in-clinic teams will need to take the time to remind clients that ongoing, preventive care is as vital to their pets' health and safety as it is to the two-legged members of their family."