May 6, 2024 - Health

Our pets need more vets

Map showing percentage change in the number of veterinary establishments by state between 2012 and 2021. Overall, the number of veterinary establishments increased by 8.4% over this period. D.C. had the highest increase with 50% more establishments while Vermont had the largest decrease at -9%.
Data: Census Bureau; Map: Alice Feng/Axios

New veterinary clinics are popping up amid an ongoing national vet shortage.

The big picture: The pandemic pet adoption boom aggravated the shortage, which has contributed to provider burnout.

By the numbers: The amount of vet establishments across the country has gone up 8.4% since 2012, according to 2021 Census Bureau data, the most recent available.

Zoom out: Many more vets are probably still needed to meet demand.

  • As of 2022, there were about 86 million dogs and 66 million cats in the U.S., an annual increase of about 2% a year since 2016, according to a spokesperson for the American Veterinary Medical Association, Mark Rosati.
  • In 2023, the AVMA noticed demand for companion animal veterinary services start to return to pre-pandemic levels, a trend expected to continue this year, Rosati told Axios.

Now 2 in 3 households own a pet, per American Pet Products Association data.

What we're watching: Veterinary schools are increasing class capacity and a number of new vet schools are in development, Rosati says.

  • Of note: 64% of vets are women, per AVMA numbers.
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