Are clients spending more—or less?

Pets still need care even when times are tight.
Aug 01, 2008
By staff

Where clients spend
Clients are spending more on veterinary care than they did 19 years ago, according to data from the 2007 AVMA U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook. Even accounting for inflation, pet owners spent roughly $94 more on cats and $208 more on dogs in 2006 than the cash they laid out in 1987. So do higher fees take the credit, or are clients purchasing more services and providing more care for their pets?

Spending for dogs
It's a little of everything, says Karen Felsted, CPA, MS, DVM, CVPM, a Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and CEO of the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues in Chicago. "There's an increase in fees that essentially covers inflation, and then there's an increase in fees that's just because fees have been too low for the value of the services we provide," Dr. Felsted says. "And the sophistication of our medicine has increased so much, so we're doing more for pets because we have a capability to do more."

Spending for cats
A closer look at the last few years reveals while spending has been on the rise long-term, there's been a limited amount of growth in spending from 2002 to 2006. Figure 1 shows a slight increase in client spending in some areas, such as routine veterinary visits for dogs and surgical veterinary visits for cats, and a drop in other areas, such as surgical visits and vitamin and nutritional supplements for dogs.