According to a new AVMA pet owner survey, 88 percent of pet owners believe that an in-person examination by a veterinarian leads to the best care for their pet. Pet owners also prefer to meet their veterinarian in-person before allowing them to care for their pet.
The AVMA’s 2023 Pet Owner Attitude Survey was conducted to better understand animal owners’ attitudes and experiences in the wake of disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the pandemic’s effects are waning, some advocates have pushed for the creation of a new mid-level position, and to eliminate the requirement for establishing a veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) in-person prior to using telemedicine. The survey’s findings indicate that both would be met with heavy resistance from pet owners, who prefer and recognize the importance of an in-person relationship with a licensed, fully qualified veterinarian, and who have a strong preference for veterinarian-led care as opposed to delegating responsibility for care decisions to non-veterinarians, including a proposed mid-level employee. Key takeaways include:
- 88% of pet owners believe that having a veterinarian physically examine their pet and talk to them in-person is what leads to the best care
- 79% of pet owners prefer that a veterinarian oversee their pet’s care
- 76% put their pet’s health and safety above all else as a top priority for veterinary care
- 72% prefer to meet a veterinarian in-person before allowing them to care for their pet
- 80% agree it would be dangerous for anyone other than a licensed veterinarian to make recommendations about life-or-death decisions for their pet
“Pet owners want to feel confident that their animal companions are receiving the highest quality care. This new research shows that pet owners have a clear preference for in-person and veterinarian-led care, which we know is the best option for animal health,” said Dr. Rena Carlson, AVMA president. “The in-person visit and physical examination is the most valuable tool a veterinarian has. It allows them to use sight, sound, touch, and smell to identify potential health issues, supports the collection of diagnostic samples necessary to develop a treatment plan, and helps avoid a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, which can lead to additional animal suffering and more cost for the pet owner.”
Further, pet owners overwhelmingly say they have not had an issue getting a timely appointment for their pet, with 76% reporting a wait of less than a week for an appointment, and 60% waiting just 1-3 days, while 78% of those whose pets needed emergency care received help in two hours or less, according to the survey of 1,000 pet owners across the United States. These findings line up with current veterinary data that shows demand is normalizing and returning to pre-pandemic levels.
The AVMA’s survey was fielded online from September 8-14, 2023, and was completed by 1,000 pet owners across the United States.