Share

Economy's latest victim: Pet health care

By |
Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

Add Max and Muffin to the depressing list of economic victims.

The American Veterinary Medical Association tells Secrets that pet owners have radically cut back regular trips to the vet just like many families during the recession have opted out of regular visits to the dentist and doctor, a symptom of high unemployment, the housing crash and, recently, much higher taxes.

The industry group's new "Sourcebook" reveals that between 2006 and 2011, 8 percent of dog owners made no trips to the vet and "a staggering 24 percent" of cat owners never brought Muffin to the doc.

In 2011, as the economy bottomed out, 81 percent of dog owners made at least one visit to the vet, but, again, cat owners ignored their kitty's moan. Just 55 percent made at least one visit to the veterinarian, down 13.5 percent from 2006.

Big animal owners acted similarly. Among horse-owning households, 53.8% had at least one visit to the veterinarian in 2011, a decrease of 11.9% from 2006, said the Sourcebook.

And just like when humans skipping trips to the doctor and dentist, the eventual cost of fixing issues likely results in higher costs.

"This reduction in veterinary visits suggests that more pets are going without annual veterinary examinations and treatments to prevent common health problems, and this could mean that many pet owners will wind up paying more for veterinary care," said the vets.

Many vets offer insurance for regular visits and the animal doctors group said that in many cases families that forgo getting insurance and skipping regular visits end up paying six-times over the price of the insurance.

The Sourcebook also had other grim news for Washington, where the operative line is, "If you want a friend in life, get a dog!" According to their survey, cats outnumber dogs in America, 74.1 million to 70 million.