The Veterinary profession, often perceived as a stalwart pillar within the broader job market, displays remarkable resilience in the face of economic turmoil. And that has once again been the case in recent months, as other industries and professions have endured layoffs.

In fact, this article chronicles the timeline of layoffs in the IT industry in 2023 and through April 1 of this year. As you can see, it encompasses many companies, some of them large and recognizable organizations (Dell, Microsoft, Google, Apple). The good news is that the Veterinary profession appears to be insulated from many of the challenges and obstacles that face those who work in other industries, such as IT. But why is that the case? That is the question I seek to answer in this article.

Reason #1: Intrinsic Demand for Veterinary Services

The factors behind this reason include unwavering pet ownership and care and the solidification of the human-animal bond.

Unwavering Pet Ownership and Care

One of the fundamental reasons for the stability of the Veterinary profession is the consistent and growing demand for pet care. Pet ownership has become a steadfast aspect of many households, with pets considered integral members of the family. According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), 67% of U.S. households, or about 85 million families, own a pet. This number has been steadily increasing, reflecting a societal trend towards pet ownership. This emotional bond between owners and their pets translates into a constant need for Veterinary services, regardless of economic conditions.

During economic downturns, while discretionary spending may decline, expenditures on essential pet care often remain steady. For instance, during the Great Recession of 2007-2009, spending on Veterinary services in the U.S. continued to grow, albeit at a slower pace. This phenomenon can be attributed to the fact that pet owners prioritize the health and well-being of their pets, even when faced with financial constraints. The loyalty and commitment of pet owners to their pets create a stable demand for Veterinary services, ensuring the profession’s resilience.

Human-Animal Bond

The human-animal bond significantly impacts how Veterinary services are prioritized. Pets provide emotional support, companionship, and even therapeutic benefits to their owners. This bond has strengthened over the years, with pets being increasingly regarded as family members rather than mere animals. As a result, pet owners are willing to invest in their pets’ health and well-being, which ensures a continuous demand for Veterinary services.

Studies have shown that pets contribute positively to their owners’ mental health, reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. During times of economic uncertainty, the emotional support provided by pets becomes even more valuable, further reinforcing the need for Veterinary care. This unwavering demand for Veterinary services, driven by the human-animal bond, insulates the profession from the economic fluctuations that impact other industries more severely.

Reason #2: Adaptability and Innovation

There are three main factors involved with adaptability and innovation. They are telemedicine and remote consultations, technological advancements, and business model adaptations.

Telemedicine and Remote Consultations

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of telemedicine within the Veterinary profession. Remote consultations and telemedicine services have become integral to Veterinary care, allowing for continuity of care even during lockdowns or economic disruptions. This adaptability has ensured that veterinarians can continue to provide essential services, maintaining their relevance and stability in the job market.

Telemedicine has enabled veterinarians to reach clients who may not be able to visit the clinic in person due to geographical, financial, or health-related constraints. This expansion of services has created new revenue streams for Veterinary practices and improved access to care for pet owners. The successful integration of telemedicine into Veterinary practice highlights the profession’s ability to adapt to changing circumstances and leverage technology to enhance service delivery.

Technological Advancements

The Veterinary profession has embraced technological advancements that enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of care. Innovations such as advanced diagnostic tools, surgical techniques, and digital health records improve service delivery. These advancements not only enhance the quality of care but also ensure that Veterinary services remain indispensable.

For example, the use of digital radiography, ultrasound, and MRI has revolutionized diagnostic capabilities in Veterinary medicine. These tools allow for faster and more accurate diagnoses, leading to improved treatment outcomes. Additionally, electronic health records streamline the management of patient information, improving communication and collaboration among Veterinary team members.

Business Model Adaptations

Veterinary practices have adapted their business models to meet changing economic conditions. For instance, the rise of subscription-based wellness plans has provided steady revenue streams for practices. These plans, which cover routine care and preventive services, ensure a consistent cash flow, mitigating the impact of economic fluctuations.

Wellness plans offer pet owners a convenient and cost-effective way to manage their pets’ health care expenses. By spreading the cost of preventive care over a year, these plans make it easier for pet owners to budget for Veterinary services. For Veterinary practices, wellness plans create a predictable revenue stream and encourage regular client visits, enhancing the financial stability of the practice.

Reason #3: Financial and Economic Considerations

Like the second reason, there are three factors associated with the third reason. They include economic indicators and Veterinary spending, Veterinary employment trends, and Veterinary practice profitability.

Economic Indicators and Veterinary Spending

Studies have shown that Veterinary spending is less elastic than other forms of consumer spending. Even during economic recessions, pet owners are likely to maintain spending on essential Veterinary services. This spending behavior insulates the Veterinary profession from the severe impacts of economic downturns experienced by other industries.

For example, during the economic downturn of 2008, the U.S. pet industry, including Veterinary services, continued to grow. According to the APPA, pet industry expenditures increased from $43.2 billion in 2008 to $45.5 billion in 2009. This resilience in spending highlights the prioritization of pet health and well-being by owners, even in challenging economic times.

Veterinary Employment Trends

Employment trends in the Veterinary profession have shown steady growth over the years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of veterinarians is projected to grow 20% from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations. This positive employment outlook contrasts with the cyclical nature of employment in the IT sector, which often mirrors broader economic trends.

The steady growth in Veterinary employment is driven by several factors, including the increasing pet ownership rates, advancements in Veterinary medicine, and the growing recognition of the importance of preventive care. This positive employment trend underscores the stability of the Veterinary profession, making it an attractive career choice for many.

Veterinary Practice Profitability

Despite economic challenges, many Veterinary practices have maintained profitability by adapting their business models and leveraging new revenue streams. For instance, practices offering preventive care plans, pet insurance partnerships, and ancillary services such as grooming and boarding have diversified their income, enhancing financial stability.

The diversification of services helps Veterinary practices mitigate the impact of economic fluctuations. By offering a range of services, practices can attract a broader client base and generate multiple revenue streams. This approach enhances the overall profitability and stability of Veterinary practices, even during economic downturns.

Reason #4: Societal and Cultural Factors

While this reason is fourth and last, it may well be the most important reason on our list, and there are two factors associated with it. These factors are the cultural significance of pets in the United States and around the world and mental health and companionship.

Cultural Significance of Pets

The cultural significance of pets has evolved, with pets being seen as family members and companions. This cultural shift has led to increased investment in pet health and well-being, ensuring a steady demand for Veterinary services. Unlike IT services, which may be viewed as non-essential during economic downturns, Veterinary care remains a priority for many households.

Pets are increasingly recognized for their emotional and psychological benefits, including reducing stress, providing companionship, and improving overall well-being. This cultural shift has contributed to the steady demand for Veterinary services, as pet owners prioritize their pets’ health and happiness. The growing acceptance of pets as family members reinforces the resilience of the Veterinary profession.

Mental Health and Companionship

Pets play a crucial role in the mental health and well-being of their owners. During times of economic stress, the companionship of pets becomes even more significant, reinforcing the importance of Veterinary care. This societal reliance on pets for emotional support contributes to the sustained demand for Veterinary services.

Research has shown that pet ownership can have positive effects on mental health, including reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. During economic downturns, the emotional support provided by pets becomes even more valuable, further emphasizing the need for Veterinary care. This relationship between pet ownership and mental health underscores the essential nature of the Veterinary profession.

There has been talk of a recession in the broader economy for the better part of two years, ever since the  Great Resignation began to wane. Some people (especially those who work in the technology sectors) might say that we are already in a recession. Even if spending on pets and Veterinary services were to drop this year in relation to years past, is not an indication of a recession.

Spending on pets has been red-hot during the past several years. Just because it’s cooled slightly or is in the process of cooling does not mean that the “sky is falling.” In fact, as society continues to value the companionship and health of animals, the Veterinary profession will likely remain extraordinarily healthy, insulated from the volatility affecting other industries.