Thanks to the recession, Pert Group and Brakke Consulting say fewer pet owners are going to the vet. A survey of 1,200 dog and cats owners found that pet owners visited the veterinarian nearly 20% less last year than in 2007 – if they went at all. In 2011, 77% of respondents took their dogs or cats to the veterinarian, compared to 88% in 2007, when the study was first conducted.

Pending legislation could erode even more of what pet owners spend at the vet. Under the Fairness to Pet Owners Act, veterinarians would be required to write prescriptions whether or not they actually dispense the medication. Traditional pharmacies would be able to fill prescriptions, creating additional competition. A majority of respondents indicated they would fill those prescriptions outside the veterinary channel, at least some of the time. or