Chewy to open veterinary practices in Florida, Colorado

Online pet supply retailer Chewy announced December 14 it will be opening veterinary clinics in 2024.

The company is launching a handful of practices under the brand name “Chewy Vet Care,” with the first location to open in South Florida early next year. The clinics will offer services including routine appointments, urgent care, and surgery.

Listings on the Chewy Vet Care website show veterinarian, veterinary technician, and veterinary staff positions in Plantation, Florida—where the company is headquartered—and Denver.

Chewy logo

The practices will use Chewy’s online platform that also works with the Chewy Vet Care website or third-party partner practices, according to the press release.

“Expanding into veterinary care is the natural next step in Chewy’s evolution and we are excited to bring our customer-forward thinking to our veterinarians and practice team,” said Mita Malhotra, president of Chewy Health, in the release, adding that the company worked with veterinarians and customers to design the new concept.

Chewy.com was the online shop with the highest e-commerce net sales selling pet supplies in the U.S., with a revenue of $10 billion in 2022, according to Statista.

Moving into the veterinary health care space is something for which Chewy, founded in 2011, has already been laying the groundwork. In October 2020, the company launched its medication compounding and telehealth service, “Connect with a Vet.” It allows pet owners to connect with a licensed veterinarian to “get answers to commonly asked questions, receive advice, discuss concerns they might have regarding the health and wellness of their pet, and obtain referrals to their local veterinarians or emergency clinics,” according to its fiscal year 2022 annual report.

In 2021, it launched Practice Hub, an e-commerce offering for veterinarians that can integrate with practice information management systems (PIMS), which the company says over 1,000 veterinary practices now use. Then in 2022, Chewy launched its pet insurance offering, CarePlus, and acquired Petabyte, a cloud-based services provider for the veterinary sector.

“We provide customers with what we believe is a one-stop shop for their prescription and special diet needs with our over-the-counter and veterinarian diet offerings and Chewy Pharmacy products,” according to the annual report. “In recent years, we have expanded our products and services to advance our mission to be the most trusted resource for pet parents and veterinarians alike, and to make pet healthcare more affordable and accessible to pet parents. We believe that we share a common goal of pet health and wellness with the veterinarian community, and we will continue to utilize our strengths to enhance partnerships with customers and veterinarians alike.”

At the same time, Chewy has previously lobbied, and received pushback from veterinarians, for federal legislation that would require a veterinarian to provide a client with a written prescription for a companion animal’s medication, whether the client requests it or not.

“If the number of veterinarians who refuse to authorize prescriptions to our pharmacy staff increases, or if veterinarians are successful in discouraging pet owners from purchasing from us, our sales could decrease and our financial condition and results of operations may be materially adversely affected,” the report states.

The company acknowledged in the same report that “We compete directly and indirectly with veterinarians for the sale of pet medications and other health products. Veterinarians hold a competitive advantage because many pet owners may find it more convenient or preferable to purchase prescription medications directly from their veterinarians at the time of an office visit.”

A version of this story appears in the February 2024 print issue of JAVMA