Overall, shelter pet adoptions in 2020 were the lowest they have been in five years, but the number of adoptions has also declined significantly over that time frame. The remaining pets were simply adopted faster, which explains the empty cages.
Instead, vets say pet owners – new and existing – were simply paying more attention to their pets, finding lumps, bumps, and symptoms they had never noticed before.
“You just had this influx of owners who were now at home and all they did was focus on their pets because they were at work every day,” Forcey said.
She said the sustainable growth for a veterinary practice of her size is typically around 20 new pets per month. Since April 2020, his office has seen 1,058 new pets, or nearly 60 per month.
Vet appointment bookings increased 43.5% in 2020 and are on track to grow nearly 7% in 2021, according to a report from the American Veterinary Medical Association.
But this business boom is occurring as veterinary practices operate with reduced capacity in order to adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols.
“What we have seen is that the pandemic has caused this huge decrease in our efficiency in our clinics, which has increased the backlog,” Carson said.
According to the association’s report, productivity declined by 25% in 2020 due to COVID-19 protocols. In some clinics, owners can no longer accompany their animals inside. This means that a veterinarian must spend time talking with the pet owner before and after the exam, which adds time and limits the number of patients that can be seen per day.