Objective—To evaluate US consumer expenditures for veterinary services, pets-pet supplies, and pet-related services.
Design—Retrospective economic analysis.
Sample Population—US consumers from 1980 through 2005.
Procedures—Descriptive statistics and probit regressions were calculated.
Results—From 1980 to 2005, total inflation-adjusted expenditures on pet-related and veterinary services increased, as did the percentage of households with a pet-related expenditure. The percentage of households with veterinary service expenditures was fairly constant. Among households with a pet-related expenditure, the percentage purchasing veterinary services decreased. The probability for pet-related and veterinary service expenditures increased with income, education, and family size and was higher for household heads who were white, were married, owned their residence, and lived in a rural area.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Overall spending on veterinary services increased substantially, providing no indication that successful practices should change strategy. Households that spent money on veterinary services increased their spending sufficiently to exceed the loss of income for veterinarians associated with the increasing proportion of pet-owning households that did not spend anything on veterinary services. Because the probability of veterinary service expenditures was strongly related to household income, caution is suggested in planning provision of veterinary services when incomes are constrained. Among households with pet-related expenditures, the decreasing percentage of households with veterinary service expenditures suggests a growing proportion of pet owners who are not having their veterinary service needs met. Because non-white households were less likely to purchase veterinary services, the veterinary profession cannot afford to delay efforts to enhance diversity and cultural competence.