Virtual veterinary care burst onto the scene last year, as human telehealth grew ever more prevalent amidst the spread of COVID-19. With pet ownership increasing from 63% in 2020 to 70% so far in 2022, there’s a slew of new pet owners who could make or break this industry. So as we embark on 2022, what’s in store for the future of virtual vet visits?
As the data show, there’s been a two percentage point increase in intent to try since last year. Just as intent has risen, so has the percentage of Americans who have tried the service. As it stands, 12% of U.S. adults have tried virtual veterinary care, with half of that group reporting they did not like the experience.
Across some demographics, interest has stayed the same. Adults under 30 and women continue to express the most interest in this type of veterinary care. Cat and dog owners show equal interest.
However, there are some categories in which interest looks entirely different this year. While high-income earners were the most interested in virtual vet care last year, now it’s low-income earners who are the most enthusiastic to give it a try. This could be an age proxy, but worth noting in terms of access and cost.
It’s also worth noting that those who have become pet parents since the start of the pandemic–a time when so many (human) appointments have gone virtual–are also the most interested in veterinary telemedicine.
It seems that comfort with virtual meetings in one arena is likely to impact comfort with virtual meetings in many arenas, as those who work remotely still lead the way with interest in pet telehealth. Meanwhile, those who are working as usual have almost doubled their interest in the service, jumping from 11% last year to 21% today.
And while those who were most interested in virtual vet care in 2021 were buying their pet food at chain pet stores, this year, those with the most interest are opting to shop online from Amazon or an online pet supplier, but also at local pet stores, with brand (more than price) leading as the top concern.
Ultimately, the data also show that pet owners who have tried telemedicine for their own medical appointments are keen on the idea of getting their furry friend in on the virtual check-ins as well.
So whether out of a desire for convenience or caution over the ongoing pandemic, it seems that virtual vet care is here to sit and stay.