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One of the most talked about topics in the animal health and pet industries today is e-commerce. A common question Brakke Consulting, Inc., has received when interfacing with clients on various projects is - what impact will the Internet have on its business?

There has been little concrete data available specific to the animal health industry on this issue. Therefore, Brakke Consulting decided to use its small animal practitioner panel groups to develop information that would be useful to its clients serving the small animal veterinary clinic. Brakke Consulting received responses from 300 small animal practitioners from throughout the U.S.

This survey of small animal veterinarians includes information about:

• E-mail and Internet access and usage in small animal veterinary practices,

• Internet ordering habits in small animal veterinary practices, and anticipated future use,

• Membership in veterinary-specific Internet information services, and

• A review of the veterinary and pet Web sites and e-commerce services.

Several key findings differ from what was anticipated before the study. In general, the study shows that veterinarians are comfortable using the Internet. Of those surveyed, the report found higher percentages of veterinarians have computer systems and Internet access than had previously been thought or reported. Another difference the study demonstrates from prior perceptions is how veterinarians use the Internet at the practice versus how they use it at home. These findings will have an impact on designing programs to reach the veterinarian.

The study also covers the more than three dozen companies offering some type of online services for the veterinary professional. Nearly all of these companies have launched their Internet services within the last year.

Details of how many veterinarians have ordered products or services via the Internet and which companies they have ordered from are included in this study. Surprisingly, from this survey the company most accessed by veterinarians for ordering products is not one of the current major distributors or manufacturers of animal health products.

The current use and administration of Web sites by practices is also included. One company is the clear leader in assisting veterinarians with their Web presence. Veterinarians were also asked how they anticipated their Internet usage changing during the next year. AM

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