Bayer HealthCare's Animal Health Division and Brakke Consulting announced today a comprehensive research initiative that will investigate reasons for the decline in companion animal veterinary visits during the past decade and identify ways to reverse the trend.
While the population of dogs and cats in the U.S. has steadily increased year over year, one million fewer veterinary visits were recorded in 2006 versus 2001, according to data published by the American Veterinary Medical Association. A more recent study demonstrated that the decline has accelerated during the recent recession, with more than half of veterinarians seeing stagnant to declining visits.
Bayer Animal Health and Brakke Consulting's research will seek to understand the causes behind the reduction in companion animal veterinary visits, and to determine how veterinarians can increase them.
"Bayer Animal Health is committed to developing solutions to increase awareness of the importance of veterinary care visits to pet health," said Peter Ryan, vice president of Bayer Animal Health's companion animal business unit. "Pets that are not routinely taken to the veterinarian are pets that are not receiving the medical attention they need to live healthy lives."
Bayer Animal Health and Brakke Consulting are collaborating on the study with the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues (NCVEI), a professional organization dedicated to improving economic conditions in veterinary medicine.
"We are committed to ensuring the economic future of veterinary medicine and this research project will help to expand the knowledge of the veterinary industry and assist in the creation of solutions for veterinarians," said Karen E. Felsted, CPA, MS, DVM, CVPM, chief executive officer of NCVEI.
Research objectives include measuring pet owner perceptions of the need for veterinary services, obstacles to scheduling office visits, and the role of alternative channels for pet health information and products. Bayer Animal Health hopes results will yield insights that can increase consumer awareness of the need for veterinary care, and more comprehensive care for America's pets.
The project will target companion animal veterinarians and U.S. pet owners of all economic levels and major ethnicities.
"The research results should give veterinarians the information they need to better understand recent trends in pet owner behavior, which will help them to develop strategies to increase veterinary care," said Ron Brakke, president and founder of Brakke Consulting.
Bayer Animal Health and Brakke Consulting expect to complete all fieldwork by Thanksgiving 2010 and have preliminary results by the end of 2010.