Trends in the Pet Industry - Interesting or Troubling?
As the New Year begins, I am pondering several topics that have been raised through various channels.
This morning I received this (link below): 7 Pet Industry Trends To Know (2021-2025). Essentially this is about where people are spending their money on pets - and just how much money that is. It would confirm what we know about people treating their pets more and more like humans, for better or for worse! This includes toys and clothes and human level food, etc. The statistics also fit with what we know about people buying more pets to keep them company during the pandemic.
That leads to all sorts of stories about Pandemic Puppies - see links below. Including some areas seeing more and more pets being relinquished to shelters as people went back to work.
There is also an increase in pet insurance - probably a very good thing. And we understand that people - some, not all - are wanting human-level care for their pets.
I am trying to put that all together with the sad, concerning, shocking information out of the veterinary world. High rates of suicide among vets and vet professionals, closing of clinics, especially emergency clinics due to staffing shortages, burnout and frustration. Some of this is due to the pandemic, some started before covid hit. The increase in pets comes at a time when vet numbers were decreasing.
And I read about people angry at vets - calling their unwillingness to see a pet 'immoral'. Even when that refusal comes when the clinic or veterinarian is already overwhelmed. I really understand the frustration and anguish of owners. But I understand that vets are going through the same thing. They cannot work 24/7 for days, weeks, and months on end.
I had a conversation with a veterinary association professional here in Canada who let me know that this is happening everywhere. Some of it has to do with changes in veterinary practice and practices (trend to corporate practices, etc.). Some is a fallout from veterinarians over recent years pursuing some sort of work life balance. Yes, it is too few vets. But maybe it is also too many pets?
At a societal level, we have to understand - pets are a commodity that runs on a supply/demand cycle. Veterinary practices offer a business service to clients and their pets. If suddenly everyone ran out and bought a second... or third car, there wouldn't be enough mechanics. However, in veterinary medicine, the caring professionals of the veterinary world suffer when they cannot meet demand, and they suffer the abuse of owners who are grief-stricken at not being able to access care. I read this article and the many comments with a very heavy heart: Many veterinary hospitals are suspending 24-hour emergency service.
So, while the pet industry revels in all the opportunities and money to be made, they might take a moment to ponder the unexpected or unintended consequences. But, I expect the industry will just carry on finding new ways to support changing attitudes towards pets.
Sigh. I find the whole situation very sad. I have no solutions.
I can only ask owners and vets to treat each other with compassion and reasonable expectations.
- AVMA combating suicide amongst veterinary professionals: https://www.avma.org/news/press-releases/avma-combating-suicide-amongst-veterinary-professionals
- Do you know that veterinary well-being is a big issue?: https://dogwellnet.com/blogs/entry/153-do-you-know-that-veterinary-well-being-is-a-big-issue/
- Not One More Vet https://www.nomv.org/
- from 2020: 'Pandemic Puppies' and COVID-19: How to Navigate This Complex Issue https://dogwellnet.com/forums/topic/983-pandemic-puppies-and-covid-19-how-to-navigate-this-complex-issue/#comment-2056
- Aug 2021: Concerns over pet welfare crisis due to high demand for ‘pandemic puppies’ https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2021/aug/26/concerns-over-pet-welfare-crisis-due-to-high-demand-for-pandemic-puppies
- Oct 2021: Home Alone: The Fate of Postpandemic Dogs https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/home-alone-the-fate-of-postpandemic-dogs/
- 7 Pet Industry Trends To Know (2021-2025): https://explodingtopics.com/blog/pet-industry-trends