The New York Times article High Debt and Falling Demand chronicles the financial problems facing U.S. veterinarians. Key quote:
The problem is a boom in supply (that is, vets) and a decline in demand (namely, veterinary services).
According to article the number of pets in the U.S. has declined over the last 5 years or so. Here's the data from the article:
- from 2006 to 2011 the number of dogs declined from 72 million to 70 million
- about 36 million households owned at least 1 cat in 2011, down 6% from 2006
- the horse population has declined by over 30% since 2006
I have to say I was surprised at these numbers.
Yes, there was a big recession during this period. And yes, pets and pet care are discretionary budget items. But as we pointed out in our post The Amazing Growth of the Pet Industry, the overall industry's revenue grew substantially from 2006 to 2011.
If all of this data is correct (number of pets is down, pet industry revenue up), this means we're spending a lot more per pet.
This would not surprise me. Pet humanization is one of our favorite trends and makes it easy to believe we are spending more and more money on our pets.
It will be interesting to see if the pet population bounced back a bit in 2012. We'll track this down and report.