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Pet Medication Sales Soar in Wake of COVID-19 Pandemic

Sales totaled $10.8B in 2020.

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ROCKVILLE, MD — With 13 percent sales growth in 2020, the pet medications market not only navigated COVID-19 pandemic challenges but posted its largest single-year growth rate in the past decade.

That is according to a new report called Pet Medications in the U.S.  from market research firm Packaged Facts.

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Market sales were $10.8 billion in 2020, representing a compound annual growth rate of 9.2 percent for the recent five-year period, driven higher by the sales gains made during 2020.

Market prospects for pet medications are very positive, said David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts.

“The market is being spurred by the recently expanded population of pet dogs and cats, a deepening pet parent focus on pet wellness, and increasing brick-and-mortar and online options for pet health care services and products,” he said.

As has been widely reported in the media, the pandemic-driven trend of Americans spending more time at home has fostered a pet boom, and country’s enlarged pet population will for years to come benefit the pet industry generally and the pet medications market in specific, according to Packaged Facts. The firm estimates that the overall percentage of U.S. households owning pets notched up from 54 percent in 2019 to 56.4 percent in 2020, with 44 percent of households now owning dogs and 25 percent owning cats.

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Senior pets, moreover, represent a prime health care opportunity within the pet population, according to Packaged Facts. As of 2020, 55 percent of dog-owning households had pet dogs age 7 or over, up from 45 percent in 2014. Pets are living longer due to advances in veterinary care, and pet owner interest in pet wellness and nutrition is at an all-time high. Growing numbers of aging dogs and cats therefore need health care for weight management, obesity-associated conditions including diabetes and joint pain, immune response, heart health and cognitive support, in addition to anti-inflammation and pain management products.

At the same time, the priority on protecting health triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the associated shift to stay-at-home lifestyles, increased pet parent awareness of the health and well-being of their pets. Packaged Facts survey data show that 41 percent of owners are paying closer attention to their pet’s health and wellness because of COVID-19, and 14 percent have changed the pet healthcare products they buy, including to address COVID-related pet health concerns including anxiety/stress and immunity.

Despite challenges and setbacks early in 2020, the veterinary sector — accounting for 72 percent of overall prescription and over-the-counter pet medication sales, according to Packaged Facts — managed to end the year with higher-than-average growth. The veterinary sector was buoyed in part by the pet population surge, but as importantly by entrepreneurship and innovation in  leveraging  “concierge” pet drop-off/pick-up services and remote consultation options such as telemedicine.

Even so, the pandemic drove overall pet product sales further online, and pet medications were no exception, with 16 percent of retail sales occurring over the internet, according to the Packaged Facts report. Pet medication e-commerce has been fueled by new market components including Chewy’s Rx compounding service and Tractor Supply’s launch of an online pet pharmacy, as well as the continued success of WalmartPetRx and Petco’s online pharmacy.

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