The first wave of findings from a new study by Brakke Consulting Inc. document substantial changes in veterinary care and purchasing of pet products during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The “COVID-19: Impact on Pet Care” study draws on a nationally representative survey of 1,000 pet owners. Brakke Consulting is conducting the study in three waves, with the first wave having gone out the first week of May.`
This first wave found that nearly half of U.S. pet owners had been impacted economically by the pandemic, either through job losses or reduced income.
“Expenditures on pets have held up remarkably well given the financial burdens on pet-owning households,” said Dr. Robert Jones, president of Brakke Consulting, in an announcement about the results.
Since the beginning of 2020, 21% of pet owners had added a pet, but most of those pets were acquired in January and February. The highest number of pets was acquired in January, and the number declined each month. Younger people, under the age of 45, were more likely to add a pet than older people were.
Nearly 40% of pet owners had canceled veterinary appointments because of the pandemic. Among pet owners who tried to schedule an appointment but couldn’t, about equal numbers said the clinic was closed or the clinic was only taking emergencies.
“Keep in mind that many people did have veterinary appointments,” John Volk, a senior consultant at Brakke, told JAVMA News. “While drop-offs were the most common, I was surprised by the percentage of pet owners who went inside the practice with their pet. There were some telemedicine appointments, also.”
The study found that some households had reduced expenditures on pet food and medications, and many had changed the way they purchase pet products.