The COVID pandemic is taking its toll on veterinary practitioners. While some industries saw mass layoffs and sales declines, veterinarians and vet techs have been inundated with new clients and patients. The demand, of course, is related to the vast numbers of dogs and cats newly acquired by people working remotely from home. In a recent article from Associated Press, veterinarians say they have extended hours, hired additional staff, added telehealth options, and refused to take any new patients, and they still can’t keep up.
Approximately 12.6 million U.S. households added a new pet to their homes following the start of the pandemic in March 2020, according to a COVID-19 Pulse Study by the American Pet Products Association.
In addition to the increase, people working from home were more vigilant in noticing health issues in their pets, which might typically have gone unnoticed in other years.
Veterinary schools can’t produce enough new grads to meet the demand, and experts don’t expect this growth to slow any time soon. In fact, veterinary positions are projected to increase 16% by 2029, while vet tech positions will grow almost 20% in the coming five years.
The mental health fallout may be severe in an industry that already struggles with compassion fatigue, anxiety and depression. Some larger clinics have hired compassion fatigue specialists to help practitioners cope. No matter what size your clinic, it will be wise to plan for a continuation of growth and demand for the foreseeable future.