Pixabay, dog walker

The pandemic has forced many people to stay home due to stay-at-home orders—much to the delight of dogs and cats everywhere. But as these orders begin to lift and people return to everyday activities, more pet owners than ever before will likely turn to pet services such as dog walkers, pet sitters and dog day care to help keep their pet company and exercise them, according to a new study by Banfield Pet Hospital.

Pet devices that allow owners to see, speak to and give treats to pets have already become more popular in recent years, but study researchers expect an even greater jump of these products as people go back to work.

The study also revealed trends that defined pet health in 2020. For example, despite the pandemic, preventive care in pets increased last year. About 9.2 percent more juvenile dogs and 12.4 percent more juvenile cats were brought in to Banfield for veterinary visits in 2020 compared to 2019. This is the first increase in the percentage of juvenile pets seen at the practice in 10 years, according to the study.

“Owners prioritized preventive care for their pets in 2020, showing the human-animal bond is stronger than ever,” said Brian Garish, president of Banfield Pet Hospital, which has more than one thousand general veterinary hospitals in 42 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and Mexico. “Overall, Banfield had approximately half a million more pet visits in 2020 than the year prior. We delivered more high-quality care than ever before thanks to the dedication of our associates, coupled with new and improved digital services and telemedicine.”

Among key findings for 2020 was a dramatic surge in itchy, “barfy,” anxious, overweight pets when compared to 2019, with a 58.7 percent increase in skin allergies, an 11.4 percent increase in visits related to vomiting, a 25 percent increase in fear/anxiety and 24 percent more pet owners saying their pet gained weight compared to just five months prior, officials said.

Banfield offers tips to help set families and pets up for success in 2021 here.

For more of PPN's coverage on Banfield Pet Hospital, read: