The impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic on the veterinary industry has been captured in a global survey of companion animal veterinarians undertaken by CM Research. Since mid-March 2020, multiple waves of the research sampled a mix of vet practice owners and partners from a diverse range of practices in Europe, North America and Australia.

The survey showed that after quickly adapting to the pandemic, veterinary practices have settled into their new policies, and the speed of change has slowed. Veterinary practices in the US, France and Germany reported implementing more measures related to keeping patient numbers down, associated with a reduction in staffing levels. According to the research, all countries except Australia, reported more of a decrease in the number of clients visiting the practice.

Australia was also the exception to the finding that in most countries, more than three-quarters of vet practices have reported a decline in revenue. The UK remains the market reporting the biggest impact on footfall and revenue, closely followed by Italy. Australia along with Germany and Canada have been able to successfully flatten the curve, with the US experiencing the highest number of mortalities from the COVID-19 illness.

Across all countries surveyed, in subsequent waves of the research, there was a dramatic drop in those anticipating the impact of the pandemic to get worse, and both Australian and German vets were shown to be the most optimistic.

Some of the personal responses captured from veterinarians provide an interesting insight into the impact of the pandemic in different countries. “We have not received any government assistance to date. The stimulus package in Australia is not overly helpful for a very small business”, said an Australian vet.

“Our support staff are down from six to one and our nurses from twelve to two due to the need to be home for childcare, or due to being in a high-risk category. This means that the vets are now doing reception, nursing and accounts which is putting a huge strain on us all”, reported a UK vet.

A French vet stated: “I am very concerned for the future of small independent practices here”, whilst a German vet said, “It seems that the pet owners who now spend more time at home are paying more attention to their animals and are therefore more likely to go to the vet practice”.

Whilst in America … “I do worry that with so many pets not getting their vaccinations or heartworm, that we will see an increase of infectious diseases among pets. I also worry that when people get back to work, they will get rid of pets. We have had all the animals adopted in our area. This has never happened before”, said a US veterinarian.

Research commissioned and kindly provided to Vet News by Zoetis Australia.