Fewer people now buy flea and worming products from a veterinary practice, although two thirds says they still see a vet once a year, says a new survey.

Fewer people now buy flea and worming products from a veterinary practice, although two thirds says they still see a vet once a year, says a new survey.

Fewer people buy flea and worm treatments from vetsAlmost two thirds of respondents claim to go to the vets at least once a year, with 51 per cent of those surveyed claiming that veterinary practices are still the most important source of trusted advice. However, 36 per cent of people admit they are more likely to self-diagnose their pet’s condition; primarily using the internet for advice.

For products requiring advice and no prescription, only 41 per cent of people use their veterinary practice, with this number falling to 18 per cent for those treatments that require no advice or prescription. Vets now account for 15 per cent of all flea and worming treatment sales, with price overwhelmingly cited as the reason why consumers turn to online retailers; a figure that has dropped dramatically over the past few years. A total of 82 per cent of respondents said their pets have suffered with fleas, and 68 per cent worms.
 
The research was carried out for advertising agency TMA in March and April. John Helps, veterinary manager in the companion animal business unit at Merck Animal Health, said: “It is alarming to see that an increasing amount of people are now relying on the internet and online retailers to diagnose and treat their pets. Veterinary practices have built their reputations on delivering only the very best knowledge and diagnosis, which is now not only a threat to the surgeries themselves, but also to the well-being of pets who may not be receiving the correct treatment they need.
 
“Vets need to take serious note of this change in consumer behaviour, particularly among young pet owners, and look at how they can market themselves better to ensure consumers understand why it is essential to bring their animals into the practice; despite the condition.”
 
Helen Cawthra, managing director at TMA, added: “TMA aimed to understand the various channel dynamics that pet owners have available to them, and how they source both information and advice, along with product.
 
“In the veterinary sector, the growth of online pet pharmacies selling drugs both prescription and non-prescription has been huge. In addition to cheaper drugs they also offer advice and this has had a huge impact on veterinary professionals who, just like in human health, rely on selling the treatment either from prescription or over the counter.”

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