In the United States alone, over 300 million pets are living in their forever homes. Worldwide, over 1.1 billion pets live with their pet families. Pets need veterinary care and mobile veterinary clinics are stepping up to fill the gap.
Mobile clinics give veterinarians the benefit of running a business. And pet parents everywhere are taking notice of alternatives to the traditional veterinary clinics as the only source for pet care.
Pros of Mobile Pet Care
One source stated that a self-contained mobile unit without digital radiography, can cost around $150,000. Financing is available for veterinarians who are just starting out. Veterinarians can start their practice with little overhead and no property taxes related to a standard brick-and-mortar clinic.
A traditional small-animal veterinary clinic could run around $1 million. A mobile veterinary clinic can be up and running for about $250,000.
Mobile veterinary clinics are designed in a variety of ways as a box insert in an SUV (around $3,000), a self-contained unit or mounted on a chassis (around $20,000). Clinics can offer the basic services (exam room, standard equipment) or contain state-of-the-art equipment in veterinary care.
Mobile clinics ease the burden of travel for pets and pet parents. Veterinarians can build flexibility around their family and personal needs.
One thing many pets don’t enjoy is travel. Some cats and dogs prefer the routine of their homes. Even if you’re not traveling for a veterinary visit, many pets get nervous, panicked, and stressed when riding in a car.
Veterinarians visit homes and work with small animals: cats, dogs, farm or petting zoo animals, “pocket pets” like hamsters, Guinea pigs and chinchillas.
Other mobile clinic services include:
- X-rays and blood work
- Behavioral counseling
- Senior health
- Nutrition consulting
- Diabetes management
- Whelping assistance
- Weight management
- Medication and food delivery
- End-of-life pet care
More complex cases (dental care, surgical support, procedures that require anesthesia) can be referred to an animal office or hospital.
At-home pet care can help animals relax and feel more comfortable during their vet visits.
Pet parents struggling with limited transportation, or mobility concerns can benefit from at-home pet care. Fearful pets or homes with multiple pets can all be examined at the same time.
Veterinarians benefit from low-start up and operation costs. Veterinarians can promote their practice with free advertising on the mobile unit as they drive around.
And veterinarians can travel far and wide. They can reach communities in high demand for veterinary services, and justify convenience fees for in-home services. If a veterinarian has a traditional practice, mobile clinics can provide additional income.
Cons of Mobile Pet Care
Veterinarians have a flexible work day but might work longer hours. They will have to add more time to the schedule to reach their clients’ destination. A longer work day means more travel time, and evening or weekend appointments.
Traffic and weather issues can make the work day longer. Appointments might have to be rescheduled or delayed. Also, working with chatty clients can expand the work day.
Mobile veterinary clinics may offer only limited services. For example, some clinics will only have standard lab equipment.
Specialized care (surgery, dental care) will need to be outsourced to traditional animal hospitals or clinics. Veterinarians may also need additional assistance to deal with difficult patients.
Maintenance, fuel cost, wear and tear on the vehicle can affect overall profits. Gas prices change and vehicle maintenance is critical. Any sunk or fixed costs are not recovered and will impact monthly profits.
Scheduling challenges are critical for a mobile veterinary clinic. Usually a receptionist will handle scheduling. But a mobile practice will need to train veterinarians or vet technicians for administrative duties.
Mobile veterinary clinics might be a good option for pet parents. Be prepared for higher costs for services and review your pros and cons.
Thanks for reading! 😎
Dr. Pet Mom
“What a beautiful world it would be if people had hearts like dogs or cats.”