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First Time Pet Owner Tips During the Pandemic

January 12, 2021

People experienced major changes in their daily routines due to the pandemic: working from home, traveling less, and spending more time outdoors. Many decided it would be a great opportunity to become a first-time pet owner. Shelters, rescue organizations and breeders have all reported an increase in pet adoptions.

Owning a pet for the first time comes with countless rewards, but also some challenges.  In fact, results from the “Embracing Pet Care for Life” survey reported by Merck Animal Health revealed that 58% of new dog owners say they wish that taking care of their dog wasn’t so time consuming.  Thirty-three percent were surprised at how high pet care costs are. 

The majority (73%) of those who became dog owners for the first time this year have considered re-homing their dogs once the pandemic ends.  What can veterinary clinics do to help lower that percentage and keep pets in happy homes?

  • Encourage regular visits to the veterinarian.
    • Maintaining a preventative care schedule is crucial for pet health. Keep your clients on track by providing best care recommendations, vaccine scheduling and check-ups. If you offer a wellness plan, encourage participation to offer cost savings over time.
  • Educate clients on parasite prevention.
    • Many pet owners are unaware that they should be giving their dogs and cats year-round protection from fleas, ticks, and internal parasites. Let your clients know about various products that prevent parasites and provide low-cost options for those who need them. Your Covetrus online store may allow pet owners to save with coupons and rebates, or buy single doses when necessary.
  • Recommend appropriate pet food.
    • Food is one of the largest pet expenses. Help your clients find food based on their pet’s breed, dietary restrictions, and health conditions. Recommend stocking up on food to save, as larger quantities can be less expensive. Setting up auto-ship online can lower costs as well.
  • Provide training tips.
    • Ask pet owners specific questions about pet behavior and recommend at-home training tips and/or training classes. Some trainers are even offering virtual training classes during the pandemic.

It’s also important to note that pets need to be prepared for life post-pandemic.  Those working from home may return to the office, leaving pets alone for longer than they are used to.  Before clients return to work, suggest that they ease their pets into a new schedule.  They can do this by spending a few hours away from their dogs or cats each day to prepare them for when they will be away from home for longer periods of time. 

Doggy daycare is another option to relieve pets from separation anxiety, while providing exercise and improved socialization.  Your practice may provide doggy daycare services, and if not, you could provide a list of available / approved facilities.  Helping pets adjust to change, and providing them with exercise and socialization, can prevent larger behavioral issues that often result in rehoming or surrendering a pet.

Overall, it’s important to let clients know that pet ownership requires knowledge, preparation and practice, and their veterinarian is a wonderful resource for pet care advice.


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