AAHA study looks at pet-owner purchasing habits

AAHA study looks at pet-owner purchasing habits

Jun 01, 2011

LAKEWOOD, COLO. — Just 37 percent of dog owners purchased heartworm medication from veterinarians, according to new data from VetInsite Analytics, and there is wide disparity in purchasing habits based on the region of the country.

The survey, "Close-up Look at 2010 Purchasing Behavior" from the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), examined data from 3,800 veterinary hospitals in the United States and 30 in Canada. It also looked at information from some 19 million pet records. It found that 47 percent of owners purchased heartworm from veterinarians in states like Texas, but the number dropped substantially on the West Coast.

Some of the other findings included:
  • Dog owners are more likely than cat owners to purchase flea, tick, heartworm and NSAID medications from veterinarians.
  • Both cat and dog owners value the advice of the veterinarian above what they hear from friends or read on the Internet.
  • Unique visits decreased by about 1 percent in 2010, but overall revenue increased 3 percent overall.
  • 58 percent of surveyed practices report revenue increases.
  • The study noted that 79 percent of veterinary industry revenue was attributed to dogs compared to just 21 percent for cats.
  • The average transaction charge for dog visits was $109.26 compared to $90.73 for cats.
  • Regional purchasing behaviors between dog and cat owners for flea-and-tick medications were similar across the nation, with the most flea/tick medications purchased in South and Texas. Results weren't much different for heartworm medications, purchased most by veterinarians for dogs in Texas and the Great Lakes region, and for cats in Texas and Florida.
  • Numbers of doses were down for both types of medications nationwide. However, the study notes the numbers of flea-and-tick doses dropped about 4 percent from 2009 to 2010 and heartworm doses dropped about 7 percent.

While most pet owners in 2010 purchased flea/tick, heartworm and NSAIDS from veterinarians in 2010 (39 percent), another 32 percent opted for alternative channels—such as online pharmacies and pet stores—and 29 percent choose a combination of the two.
  • Dog owners were more likely to buy medications from a veterinarian (44 percent), but cat owners most often purchased medications through alternative channels (39 percent).
  • Dog owners who didn't purchase medications from a veterinarian most often planned to buy from pet specialty stores in 2011, followed by online pharmacies, mass merchandisers or discount stores and club stores over the next year.
  • Cat owners favored online pharmacies, followed by pet stores and mass merchandisers or discount stores.

But regardless of where they purchase medications, pet owners value advice from a veterinarian above other sources, AAHA reports.