Pet ownership and veterinary care trends will likely extend throughout 2021, new BluePearl Pet Hospital reports predict.

BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital, a national provider of advanced veterinary care, serving more than one million pets each year, today released its first-ever Pet Owner and Veterinarian Reports, entitled Full House: People and Pets in the Pandemic and Changes, Challenges, and the Coronavirus, respectively. The reports identify how the pandemic has prompted a surge in pet ownership, strengthened the human-animal bond, and posed challenges to the process of providing pet care.

Among the key findings in the 2020 Veterinarian Report was a marked increase in the number of pets seen at veterinary practices across the U.S. In 2020, BluePearl saw over 200,000 more pets than in 2019, and of the total approximate 1.1 million pets seen in 2020, BluePearl saw 660,000 pets for the first time.

The biggest jump in new pets seen were those less than one year of age, with BluePearl seeing 10 times the number of pets less than one year old as was seen in 2019. These findings affirm that pet adoptions and additions, specifically kittens and puppies, are on the rise.

Attitudes about pet ownership have radically changed in recent months. As telework becomes the new norm and people face prolonged periods of isolation, pets are increasingly being looked upon for companionship, comfort, and stress relief,” remarked James Barr, DVM, DACVECC, Chief Medical Officer at BluePearl.

“As pet ownership continues to increase—with more and more people realizing the benefits of the human-animal bond—the demand for veterinary services is rising. As a result, we, as an industry, have been compelled to transform our patient accessibility options, which includes utilizing telehealth to meet patients where they are. By knowing the state of pet health as well as patient care obstacles, we can better serve our clients and ensure pets receive the best possible care today and in the future.”

The 2020 Pet Owner Report, which received over 39,000 responses, shows that the majority of BluePearl clients are working remotely (59%) and expect to work remotely for one year or more. The report further reveals that pets are not only providing pet owners with a sense of comfort and companionship (84%) during the pandemic, but pet owners are more attuned to their pet’s daily habits (49%) and health needs (69%). What is more is pet owners are more likely to seek veterinary care if their pet is not acting like him- or her-self (79%).

As people spend more time at home with their pets, they are becoming increasingly attuned to their pet’s daily habits and behaviors and can better tell if something is ‘off.’ This shift in at-home dynamics, coupled with a rise in pet adoptions and an enhanced commitment to pet health, has led to a substantial uptick in visits to veterinary practices,” explained Paul J. Pratscher, Director of Customer Experience and Insights at BluePearl.

“BluePearl also saw that pet owners are adding more pets to their households amid the pandemic, with one out of every five multi-pet households adding another pet over the past several months…and this is expected to continue. With many pet owners planning to adopt another pet in the future, the veterinary community may see steady or increased patient loads and prolonged challenges throughout 2021.”

In 2020, there was also a change in the types of care veterinarians provided to pets. The top care differences veterinarians saw in 2020 included pets with unusual illnesses, vomiting and/or diarrhea, and/or behavioral issues or injuries (i.e. injuries resulting from outdoor activities such as hiking and walking or in dog parks), newly acquired/adopted pets requiring preventative care, and pets returning with more serious, chronic diseases due to lack of previous care or intervention (i.e. wellness visits missed, medical issues that were put off and progressed).

BluePearl’s 2020 Pet Owner and Veterinarian Reports delve deep into the state of pet health and ownership, patient care challenges, including new hospital safety protocols, communication barriers, and staff retention, an industry-wide shift to telehealth and virtual continuing education, pet owner spending, and the future of pet care.

View the full reports

BluePearl Pet Hospitals 2020 Pet Owner Report | Full House: People And Pets In The Pandemic (PDF 877kb)

BluePearl Pet Hospitals 2020 Veterinarian Report | Changes Challenges And The Coronavirus (PDF 907kb)

About BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital  

Founded in 1996, BluePearl is one of the largest specialty and emergency veterinary practices in the U.S. today. BluePearl has more than 100 hospitals in 29 states that together employ +7,000 Associates, including 1,330+ veterinarians, 1,600+ veterinary technicians, and 4,100+ other professionals. Each year, our compassionate teams provide high-quality care for more than 1.1 million pets and their families. BluePearl clinicians also participate in clinical studies to discover new treatments and procedures that improve pet health.

As part of the Mars Veterinary Health family of brands, BluePearl is committed to its purpose — A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS® — because pets make a better world for us.