Why are vet visits on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic? High adoption rates and working from home, Raleigh vet says

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- One bright light in the darkness of the pandemic - pet adoptions are way up. That, combined with that fact that many of us have those pets at our feet while we are working from home, appears to be one reason we are more likely to notice subtle changes in their health.

That's the theory of Raleigh veterinarian Joe Gordon.

"People that have pets, feel closer to their pets now than they did before the pandemic started," Gordon said from his clinic on Oberlin Road.

Gordon's practice, Care First Animal Hospitals, has three clinics in Raleigh and Cary.

He says in addition to more people closely observing their pets' habits while they're working from home, there are now more people with pets.

"We have seen a lot of new adoptions in the past year. People that did not have pets before have adopted pets," Gordon said, :The percentage of pet ownership has increased significantly."

So it should be no surprise that a survey by national veterinary chain Blue Pearl Pet Hospitals found that 69% of owners are more attuned to their pets' health needs.

The same survey showed 79% of pet owners indicated that during the pandemic they've been more likely to seek vet care if their pet isn't acting normal.

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That's good, according to Gordon who said, "When those pets come in more quickly because of a subtle symptom and we're able to make a diagnosis early, we're able to have much more positive results for treatments in most cases with an earlier diagnosis."

Gordon added that the increase in visits to his practices helped his business recover from a rapid decline of more than a third at the beginning of the pandemic.

FULL CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

Even with sales of pet products still down dramatically, by the end of 2020 overall revenue was actually up slightly over 2019 much to Gordon's surprise.

"I would have not thought that, no, because of the significant drop that we had in March and April," Gordon said.

Gordon believes another reason vet visits are up during the pandemic is that many of those who have managed to remain employed have saved more money while staying mostly at home.

And since pet care is a discretionary expense, Gordon thinks more pet owners may feel they can better afford vet services.
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