Earlier today I was reading one of my regular journals, DVM Newsmagazine. In the most recent issue there were several articles on the impact of the current US economy on veterinary medicine, as well as changing trends in customer/client perceptions and actions when it comes to their pets. If you're interested, check out some of the articles above, including this link which is probably most relevant.
The articles show a growing problem in the veterinary profession with a reduction in income that can in part be tied to the economic downturn in recent years. However, there are other causes as well, including a push to increased duration of vaccines and a misconception on the part of pet owners that their dogs and cats don't need regular exams. I've seen it in my own practice, especially recently, where the last 4 weeks have shown us behind the revenue compared to the same four weeks in 2010 (though we're still ahead year-to-date compared to last year). Personally I think there are multiple factors, with the economy being a large part of that. What is interesting is that owner spending on pets as a whole has increased, while veterinary expenditures have decreased. So pet owners are simply not spending as much money at their vets, even while they are buying plenty of food, toys, and trinkets.
To me and many vets this trend is bothersome, and not just because it can affect our bottom line and our livelihood. Less spending at the vet and fewer visits means that pets aren't getting the care they need, especially preventative care. In the long run people can end up paying more by skipping visits, as we don't have as many opportunities to catch problems early.
I haven't done a poll in a while, so I think it's time to put up a couple. Since I have readers who are vets as well as readers who are just pet owners, I'm putting up one for each group. We'll review them at the end of the month and see what they look like in this very non-scientific survey.