How chronic illness plans can benefit both pet owners and your veterinary practice

28 July 2023 5 min read


Like preventive care plans, chronic illness plans are bundles of health services that pet parents pay for monthly when their pet has a chronic condition. These bundles include a variety of products and services, such as:

  • Exams
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Medications
  • Nutrition

Chronic illness plans carry a number of benefits. The plans give pet parents the peace of mind of knowing they are providing optimal care for their pets. With regular monthly payments, the plans also offer predictability to pet parents, along with a consistent revenue stream to the practice.

Research shows that monthly payment plans are a win for pet health. Well-implemented wellness plan programs can produce 10% revenue growth for a practice in the first year.¹

The research further showed that pet parents were more attuned to the amount they were asked to spend in a single visit, rather than what they spent across an entire year. In other words, pet parents may be inclined to spend more annually on veterinary services when the service cost is divided into monthly payments.

However, predictable monthly payments shouldn’t be confused with discounts on services. In most cases, monthly payments are sufficient for a pet parent to agree to the recommended care.

Instead, chronic illness plans drive value by encouraging the pet parent and doctor to collaborate on a pet’s long-term care. This collaboration can nurture closer ties between doctors and clients while making sure pets receive the proper health services.

With chronic illness plans, veterinarians can address specific conditions they commonly encounter, such as diabetes or feline hyperthyroidism. The type of chronic illness plans can run the gamut, encompassing bundles of services that include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Canine Cushing’s disease
  • Addison’s disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Kidney disease
  • Feline Hyperthyroidism

Ideally, chronic illness plans should offer the ability to incorporate periodic additional treatments into the monthly payment as health issues change.

Chronic illness plans can also address the need for rehabilitation. For example, a chronic illness plan for a cranial cruciate ligament tear could include pain management, rehabilitation, and special nutrition for weight management.

The types of possible care plans are nearly limitless, constrained only by whether a practice’s plan platform is robust enough to support administration, mid-stream service additions, missed payment management, pet parent communications, marketing, and other critical activities.

Key Benefits of Chronic Illness Plans
Obesity, one of the most common chronic conditions in pets, is reaching epidemic proportions – more than half of dogs and cats in the United States are considered overweight or obese.² The surge of overweight pets complicates chronic health conditions like diabetes, osteoarthritis, hypothyroidism, and beyond.

To stay healthy, pets with chronic conditions require more than routine preventive care. Yet, one-third of pet owners can’t afford care.³

These disappointing statistics point to an unmet need for options to help educate pet parents on the importance of chronic disease management. They also need the means to budget for it.

In recent years, some practices have looked to chronic illness plans to solve this problem. Chronic illness plans can be a win for pet patients and practices, addressing the chronic care needs of pets.

Like wellness plans, chronic illness plans provide a stream of recurring revenue in today’s competitive landscape. Online retailers are capturing an increasing share of spending on pet food and supplies – a trend the pandemic has accelerated. While the vet’s office is still the #1 distributor of pet medications, at least two-thirds of medications are bought online or elsewhere.4

Chronic illness plans, which often include medications and/or nutrition, can make up for lost sales of these products.

A recent analysis in Today’s Veterinary Business further suggests that chronic illness plans can be profit centers for practices.5 A chronic illness plan, for example, for a feline hyperthyroid patient produced an overall annual profit of roughly 50%.

The chronic illness plan also was 17% more profitable than the services delivered to a feline hyperthyroid patient that wasn’t enrolled in a chronic illness plan.5 Medications were included in the plan, thus preventing erosion of sales to online retailers, and recapturing that revenue source for veterinarians.

Ideally, chronic illness plans should be personalized to the unique health needs of each pet.

As a partner, Covetrus® provides a complete pet wellness solution that combines software and professional services to make managing a complete care program easy, including the offering of chronic illness plans.

Covetrus Care Plans is a flexible program designed to help more pets receive care, give pet parents choices, and empower veterinarians with robust tools and analytics to propel practice growth.

Visit to learn more.


1 “Why Wellness?” VCP White Paper. Accessed July 25, 2023.

2 National Pet Week 2023: Celebrating the bond between pets and owners through responsible care. American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Accessed July 25, 2023.

3 Veterinary Industry Trends: What you should expect in 2022. VetX International. Accessed July 25, 2023.

4 Puppy love boosts pet care industry. Morgan Stanley. Accessed July 25, 2023.

5 Beyond Wellness Plans. Today’s Veterinary Business. Accessed July 25, 2023.