Banfield Pet Hospital® Launches 24-Hour Access to Pet Health Advice with Vet Chat™

June 04, 2019 • Vancouver, WA

Today, Banfield Pet Hospital® announced its new telehealth service, Vet Chat™, that offers its more than two million Optimum Wellness Plan® clients across the U.S. and Puerto Rico access to one-on-one chat with a veterinarian anytime, anywhere through the Banfield app. With a recent Banfield survey showing 71% of pet owners turn to the internet instead of their veterinarian, Vet Chat gives Banfield’s wellness plan clients on-demand access to general pet care advice and triage support from a veterinarian.  

According to the survey, 75% of veterinarians agree that knowing how long to wait before consulting a veterinarian is one of the biggest challenges their clients face. Making matters worse, 90% of veterinarians worry pet owners may unknowingly put their pet at more risk by taking bad advice from the internet. Banfield aims to help solve these common dilemmas by introducing Vet Chat and encouraging pet owners to ‘Nix the Net, Text a Vet.’

“At Banfield, we never take for granted that being entrusted with the care of a beloved pet is to be invited into the emotional center of a person's life,” said Brian Garish, president of Banfield Pet Hospital. “To us, that means not only being with you throughout your pet’s life, from puppyhood through the golden years–– it also means being there during those unexpected, sometimes anxiety-ridden moments between visits. Vet Chat marks the next chapter in the future of pet care, and we’re thrilled to offer a service that benefits our clients, their pets, and our veterinary teams.”

Celebrity and pet advocate, Jane Lynch, is helping Banfield raise awareness of the dangers of turning to the internet with pet health issues instead of seeking counsel from a veterinarian.

“As the proud owner of three rescue pups, I am all too familiar with the sounds of a dog vomiting at three in the morning – and the comfort and peace of mind that comes with having a veterinary team I can count on,” said Lynch. “I’m honored to work with Banfield Pet Hospital to launch Vet Chat, which gives pet owners access to advice from a trusted source – anytime, anywhere.”

SEARCHENGINEITIS CAN BE A REAL PROBLEM 
In addition to concerns about the negative impact taking inaccurate advice from the internet can have on pets, 90% of veterinarians surveyed also report needing to dedicate more energy and allotted appointment time toward correcting misinformation pet owners gleaned from the internet. 

Further, many veterinarians report seeing owners fixate on certain signs and symptoms, omitting critical information (75%), while others say they articulated the signs and symptoms differently than they might have before their online research, influencing the focus of the exam (59%). 

TIMING IS EVERYTHING 
Banfield also found 39% of pet owners admit they sometimes struggle to decide when to call the veterinarian – a difficulty faced by seasoned and first-time pet parents alike – and nearly four in ten pet owners (37%) say that, in general, they prefer to consult the internet first. 

The majority of pet owners surveyed (66%) also say they have personally turned to the internet about a suspected pet health issue – whether via general online searches (45%), visiting pet health websites (45%), or posting on social media (15%). Further, pet owners reported online pet health research typically leaves them feeling anxious (32%), overwhelmed (25%) and fearful (25%).  

BREAKING UP WITH DR. SEARCH ENGINE 
More than half of veterinarians (51%) reported they can think of a time when a client failing to disclose previous DIY treatment attempts led to unexpected complications or prescription interactions for a pet. In fact, just under half of veterinarians (47%) say the effects of an owner’s independent treatment attempts have masked or changed a pet’s original signs and symptoms, making issues harder to accurately diagnose. 

One third of pet owners (35%) report losing sleep over their pet’s health, and nearly one in five (17%) report feeling ill themselves. More than half (60%) of pet owners even say they are quicker to bring their pets to the veterinarian than to bring themselves to their own doctor.

To sign up for an Optimum Wellness Plan, which includes Vet Chat, pet owners are encouraged to schedule a visit with their local Banfield Pet Hospital. For more information about Banfield and to find a nearby location, visit www.Banfield.com

About Banfield Pet Hospital®
Banfield Pet Hospital was founded in Portland, Ore. in 1955 and today is the largest general veterinary practice in the United States with more than 1,000 hospitals in 42 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. More than 3,600 Banfield veterinarians are committed to providing high-quality veterinary care to over three million pets annually. As part of the Mars, Inc. family of brands, Banfield is committed to its purpose—A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS®—because pets make a better world for us. Press seeking additional information are invited to call the Media Hotline: (888) 355-0595.

About Kelton Research 
Kelton Research is a full-service market research consultancy with offices in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. Kelton serves as a strategic partner to both Fortune 500 corporations and smaller companies, utilizing a wide range of qualitative and quantitative methodologies to drive tactical recommendations for clients. For more information about Kelton’s services, please visit www.keltonglobal.com.

Survey Methodology 
Banfield Pet Hospital’s pet owner telehealth survey was fielded to 1,029 pet owners aged 18+ in the U.S. online between February 13, 2019 and March 4, 2019. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and affected by the number of interviews and level of the percentages expressing the results. In this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 3.1 percent, from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all personas in the universe represented by the sample. The margin of error for any subgroups will be slightly higher. 

The veterinarian survey was fielded to 204 veterinarians aged 18+ in the U.S. online between February 13, 2019 and March 4, 2019. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. In this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 6.9 percent, from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all personas in the universe represented by the sample. The margin of error for any subgroups will be slightly higher.