Banfield Pet Hospital® Data Shows Increase in Care for Pets in 2020 Despite Pandemic

Banfield Pet Hospital®, the nation’s largest provider of preventive veterinary medicine, confirms a huge boom in U.S. pet ownership, sharing that 9.2 percent more juvenile dogs and 12.4 percent more juvenile cats were brought in to Banfield for veterinary visits in 2020 compared to 2019. This is the first increase in the percentage of juvenile pets seen at the practice in 10 years.

« Owners prioritized preventive care for their pets in 2020, showing the human-animal bond is stronger than ever. Overall, Banfield had approximately half a million more pet visits in 2020 than the year prior, » said Brian Garish, president of Banfield Pet Hospital. « We delivered more high-quality care than ever before thanks to the dedication of our associates coupled with new and improved digital services and telemedicine. By supporting pet health, Banfield plays an essential role in advancing human health and elevating societal wellbeing. »

Banfield is sharing insights on how the pandemic impacted pet ownership in 2020 based on analysis of health records from the millions of pets seen at Banfield each year. Further, Banfield’s veterinary team is sharing predictions for what pet owners can expect in 2021.

Among key findings for 2020 was a dramatic surge in itchy, barfy, anxious, overweight pets when compared to 2019, with a 58.7% increase in skin allergies, 11.4% increase in visits related to vomiting (because, 2020), a 25% increase in fear/anxiety, and 24% more pet owners saying their pet gained weight compared to just five months prior.

Banfield’s data also found that owners were more committed than ever to getting their pet to the vet. Visits increased 20.4% for kittens and 14.3% for puppies in 2020.

Despite an encouraging increase in preventive care visits, one of Banfield’s predictions for 2021 is that the rise in pet adoptions may lead to a spike in pet surrenders as people start to spend more time outside of the home in the second half of the year. Most people understand puppies and kittens are a lot of work, but some underestimate the time, money and training that pets require throughout their entire lives. In addition, Banfield is predicting an increase in separation anxiety for both pets and their owners as the latter begin to return to full time work and school. Banfield veterinary teams can work closely with pet owners on ways to make pet care feel more manageable and get ahead of these challenges now, including planning for financial commitments, behaviors to watch for and prioritizing preventive care.

Banfield’s blog offers these and other tips to help set families and pets up for success in 2021.

Other key findings from Banfield’s preventive analytics data include:

Pet owners were more attuned to their pet’s health than ever before, likely as a result of additional time spent together in quarantine.

Banfield saw an increase in owners bringing their dogs (up 8.4%) and cats (up 13.8%) in for illness visits when they noticed something was up.
Further, pets brought in for injury visits increased 5.1% in dogs and 7% in cats compared to the year before.
Pets diagnosed with mobility-related issues (i.e., arthritis and general lameness) increased 8.2%.

Banfield saw a change in the types of visits pets were brought in for in 2020, along with the way in which pet owners obtained advice and support.

Beginning in mid-March through the end of 2020, chats on Banfield’s telehealth service, Vet Chat™, more than doubled daily volume.

Cats have their day too
There are more than 90 million cats in the U.S., but unfortunately more than 50% of them don’t see a veterinarian on a regular basis.1  Perhaps as a result of increased time spent together, Banfield’s data found that owners were more focused on getting their cat to the vet in 2020.

Kitten vet visits increased 20.4% in 2020 (compared to 14.3% for puppies) and overall cat visits were up 8.7% (compared to 2.4% for dogs).
There was also a 48% increase in the percentage of cat visits related to fear or anxiety in 2020 compared to 2019.
Additional predictions for 2021 from Banfield’s veterinary team include:

Telehealth is here to stay. Telehealth services like Banfield’s Vet Chat were already growing in popularity and this was accelerated by COVID-19. Telehealth will play an increasingly important role in making preventive care accessible to more pets and promoting their health and wellbeing. New services like nutrition counseling and home delivery of medications are adding more convenience and customization to the virtual client experience.
The role of Certified Vet Technicians (CVTs) will be more important than ever. As veterinary practices see more pets, they need to come up with new ways to meet demand. Much like a nurse practitioner (NP), CVTs can offer services like administering vaccinations or checking vital signs in partnership with a doctor. At Banfield, appointments with our CVTs increased 280% in 2020 compared to 2019, allowing us to care for all those quarantine puppies and kittens.
If pet owners can’t physically be at home all day with their pets, they’ll find new ways to connect with and care for them. Pet devices that allow you to see, speak to and give treats to pets have become more popular in recent years, but once stay-at-home orders begin to lift and people return to everyday activities, we’ll see a rise in popularity of these products. More pet owners than ever before will also likely turn to pet services like dog walkers, pet sitters and doggy daycare to help keep their pet company and exercise them.

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