When it comes to animal care, whether it be our pets, livestock or working animals, we want to ensure that our they are healthy, happy and well looked after.
But how many of us really understand what goes into caring for our furry friends, scaly chums and feathered companions?
Here, we take an in-depth look at the Animal Care industry in Australia, and the vast range of specialities, products and services that make up this important field.
The different areas of animal care
The animal care industry in Australia is separated into nine key areas.
- Veterinary services
- Non-veterinary health and welfare services
- Wildlife care and rehabilitation services
- Animal control services
- Captive wildlife operations
- Animal technology services
- Assistance and therapy animal services
- Pet and companion
- Animal breeding services.
The key areas of the animal care industry
Below we’ve highlighted some of the key pillars of the animal care industry that account for a large portion of the goods and services available.
The behaviour of animals provides a window into their world – how they see, feel and act.
Studies on animal behaviour can show us about an animal’s overall wellbeing, and measure stress and pain in response to their environment and treatment.
The three different types of animal behaviour include:
- Instinctive: these are fixed behaviours that animals naturally feel the need to engage in (ie. birds caring for eggs left in a nest)
- Learned: important for both wild and domesticated animals, it is the ability to anticipate the response that an action will have (ie. for wild animals, the ability to react to potential prey, and for domesticated animals, the ability to perform a task to receive a treat).
- Abnormal: these behaviour patterns in domesticated animals can be obnoxious to owners and threaten a wild animal’s ability to mate or care for offspring.
Animals have clear physiological needs for water, food and thermal comfort.
But part of how an animal behaves is determined by how it interacts with its environment and with others.
Encouraging animals to exercise these natural behaviours is vital for good physical and mental health.
For example, scratching, if you’re a cat or a chicken, rooting, if you’re a pig, and running, if you’re a dog or a horse.
All animal species-specific behavioural needs must be taken into account in order to assess their overall welfare, environmental infrastructure and management requirements to facilitate their needs.
Animal health and welfare
Animal welfare refers to the quality of life experienced by animals.
According to World Animal Protection, there are five domains of animal welfare which include nutrition, environment, health, behaviour and mental state.
Many animals around the world are suffering from improper use for entertainment, medicine, science, fashion, as exotic pets, and more.
It is our collective responsibility to ensure all animals are treated humanely, responsibly and with respect.
Good animal welfare requires things such as veterinary treatment, disease prevention, appropriate shelter, nutrition, management, humane handling and humane killing/slaughter.
The key products in the animal care industry
There are some key products for the animal care industry that make the treatment and care of animals better and more efficient.
We have outlined some of these key products below.
Electronic equipment, such as electronic identification devices, microchips, point of care diagnostics are all leading technologies that assist in delivering best practice in animal care.
Technology has revolutionised the animal care industry, and new electronic equipment and devices are constantly being developed to allow people who care for animals to do their job better and more humanely.
There are numerous providers of leading animal care technology in the marketplace that improve the standard of animal healthcare for the industry.
According to Fortune Business Insights, the global veterinary anaesthesia equipment market is projected to grow from $180.8 million in 2021 to $290.2 million in 2028.
Traditionally, veterinary anaesthesia equipment has been used for surgeries, dental procedures, imaging and urinary catheterisation.
But the growing prevalence of chronic conditions amongst companion animals has led to an increase in surgical procedures in relation to these conditions.
Having the right equipment can make a huge difference to the level of care delivered and the experience for animals undergoing procedures.
The right equipment will ensure that all animals receive the correct amount of oxygen while under anaesthesia, and ensure there is minimal risk to the patient.
Did you know over 85% of companion animals have some form of periodontal (gum) disease?
This can cause animals a lot of discomfort and pain.
Dental health is a key area of concern for the animal care industry and access to high quality dental care instruments for animal healthcare workers is essential.
Just as humans look after their teeth to prevent plaque and any sort of dental disease, animals need their teeth looked after too, to improve their quality of life.
Animals should have their teeth checked regularly, and if dental disease is detected, immediate care and maintenance is required to prevent any ongoing issues.
Animal healthcare workers will regularly need to administer drugs, fluids and supplements during treatments and procedures for animals in their care.
IV infusion pumps are the very widely preferred method when it comes to controlling the constant rate of infusion (CRI) for such treatments.
High quality equipment, such as IV infusion pumps, are a necessary piece of equipment for animal care practices and crucial when it comes to caring for animals.
Washer disinfectors and sterilisers
Running a hygienic clinic is absolutely crucial when it comes to the care of animals, and this is especially true when it comes to your equipment.
People in the animal care industry must ensure the proper sterilisation of all of their medical tools and equipment at all times, and washer disinfectors are a safe and effective way to sterilise equipment and maintain high hygiene standards.
They can also help to extend the life of your commonly used instruments, which will save on costs.
Washer disinfectors utilise superior cleaning, disinfection and drying of medical equipment.
They ensure better protection for both patients and for animal healthcare workers, and save time and costs.
The key challenges of the animal care industry
As with any industry, animal care does present certain challenges. Below we’ve detailed some of the main challenges and some potential solutions.
Staying relevant with changing practice standards
The Australian Government is working with the states and territories to devise consistent standards and guidelines for the welfare of animals across Australia.
Historically, each state and territory has been responsible for its own animal welfare legislation.
Yet the inconsistency in legislation between states has resulted in changing practice standards, which have made it difficult for those in the animal care industry to keep on top of.
The government-endorsed updates to animal care guidelines can be found here.
Managing pricing and cash flow
Managing your cash flow properly can help you identify how much funds are needed to cover debts, pay employees, pay suppliers and bills, and any other expenses that your business may incur.
It is important to also build a cash reserve to act as a cushion for any unexpected expenses, or to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.
Invoicing immediately or collecting payments at the time of service is essential to keep your cash flowing.
Keeping on top of these factors will help you manage your pricing, and give you the ability to adjust it as required.
Client and staff retention rates
COVID-19 has impacted every single industry, and animal care is not immune to this.
Amongst the restrictions posed on businesses for COVID-19 protocols, client retention for animal care practices has also been hugely impacted.
But besides the impacts of the pandemic, client retention has and continues to be a key challenge for animal care businesses.
Often the key reasons clients don’t return to a practice is poor client experience and inefficient recall systems (i.e. automated appointment reminders).
Putting some effort into getting these processes right can go a long way to increasing client retention.
When it comes to staff retention, getting to the root of the problem is key.
Building a motivated, talented and long-term team is one of the most common challenges faced by businesses in the animal care industry.
High staff turnover rate is a major pain point for all business owners.
After all, a revolving door of employees drains time and valuable practice resources. It can also have a huge impact on the bottom line.
Assessing your turnover rate first is essential, as is finding out ‘why’.
You can start by performing exit interviews with staff, then going forward look into office culture, processes for hiring the right people, mentoring schemes and career progression pathways, and ensuring you have adequate support for staff.
Animal welfare is always the top priority
Those who work in animal care usually enter the industry because of a genuine love and passion for helping animals.
With such a wide variety of career opportunities in this field, it comes as no surprise that there is a position suited for every animal lover, whether it be veterinary surgeon, dog groomer, or anything in between.
Each individual plays an important part in the animal care ecosystem. It’s pawsitively awesome! 🐾