How Increases in Pet Adoptions During the Pandemic Have Impacted the Emergency Vet Industry

Dr. Monica Sterk

Jul 12, 2021

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The coronavirus pandemic has affected every area of our lives. The emergency vet industry is no exception. Pet owners have demonstrated that pandemic or no pandemic, they want to take care of their pet’s health and wellbeing.

Many Pets Were Adopted During the Pandemic

The rise in pet adoptions coupled with the pandemic put a significant strain on general veterinary practices. Pet owners had to wait four to six weeks for a standard appointment. Even though their situation would not be considered life-threatening, it may have needed treatment sooner than the waiting period.

This has since caused a significant increase in business in the emergency vet industry. Due to the upsurge in pet adoptions during the pandemic, general vets were swamped with new patients. Pet parents began taking their pets to the emergency vet for non-urgent care. Read on to discover how much pet adoptions during the pandemic have impacted this industry. 

6 Ways Increase in Pet Adoptions Have Impacted the Emergency Vet Industry

Below are some of the main ways that the emergency vet industry has been impacted by increased pet adoptions during the pandemic:

Significant Spike in Emergency Cases

Veterinarians have said they have seen more sick and emergency cases during the pandemic. With pet parents at home with their beloved companions, they have become adept at noticing changes in their pet’s health. Some research indicates that people have become resolute in taking care of health problems they can control.

Curbside Visits Becoming More Common

Curbside visits have replaced visits in the office. Owners will wait in the car while their pet goes in and gets checked out. This practice means more time per patient. The American Veterinary Medical Association has concluded that the average wait time at veterinary clinics has nearly doubled from 2019 to 2020.

Practices Have Implemented New Safety Protocols

Veterinarians have implemented new safety protocols in response to the pandemic. Anyone who comes into the clinic is required to wear a face mask. While this has changed since people have been getting vaccinated, this was the rule when the pandemic first hit and some animal hospitals are continuing this practice. There were also temperature checks, health screening, and social distancing procedures put in place.

Increase in Emergency Patient Volume

The pandemic has led to an increase in patient volume. Since people have been adopting, veterinarians have had to take on new clients, and clinics have seen more clients than they ever have before. Everything from chronic issues to emergencies or injuries has been seen.

“It varies regionally. We have 24 ER hospitals across the country and we’ve seen an increase in case loads from 50-150%,” says Dr. David Bessler, founder and CEO of Veterinary Emergency Group, when discussing the increase in patients at their hospitals.

Call Volumes Have Increased for Practices

The phone lines have been inundated with client calls. It has not been uncommon since the pandemic for there to be 50 or 60 voicemail messages in a half hour. Some veterinary clinics will allow you to text them or send them pictures, and vice versa. Vets do their best to respond quickly.

Emergency practices have been no exception. Along with the increase in patient numbers comes an increase in calls that come in. Emergency vets have been working tirelessly to make sure all pets are seen in a timely manner.

More Clients Coming to Emergency Animal Hospitals for Non-Emergency Cases

Due to limited access to the general vet, pet owners began to utilize emergency vets for non-emergent appointments. Not only were the regular vets overwhelmed with patients, but the emergency vet clinics were also deluged with non-emergent patients that could not be turned away.

The Emergency Vet Industry Has Seen Significant Changes Due to Increase in Pet Adoptions

Adopting a pet is a responsibility that comes with many rewards. These include companionship, exercise, entertainment, and most importantly, love. With so many people adopting pets during the pandemic, emergency vets have seen a rise in traffic since 2019.

Emergency vet clinics have tailored the way they conduct themselves to the climate of the current health CDC guidelines. Emergency vet clinics have also had pet parents with non-emergencies patiently waiting all day to be seen when the regular vet cannot see the animal in a timely fashion. Veterinarians have been working around the clock to make sure your pet gets the care they need when they need it in safe manner.

At VEG, our number one concern is that your pet gets the treatment they need while keeping them and you safe. If you think your pet is in need of immediate care, don’t hesitate to call any one of our locations. You’ll get to talk with an emergency veterinarian who will help guide you in the best direction on what to do to help your pet.