Picking a Location for Your New Startup Veterinary Practice

by Sam D Meisler DVM

Starting veterinary practice - Location
Starting veterinary practice – Location

When looking for a location to start a veterinary practice, there are several considerations you need to take into account. By considering the demographics of the local population, you can ensure you open your practice in a location where there is plenty of demand for your service. Here are a few of the most important factors to consider.

Population Within 5 Miles

People don’t like to travel a long way to take a sick pet to the vet. They are much more likely to choose a vet in their local area than one far away. Looking at the size of the population within 5 miles gives you an idea of the maximum possible size of your client base. If you choose a location that is miles out of town, you’ll have to work incredibly hard to convince people your service is worth the drive.

Local Demographics

The population size of the town you plan to set up in is not the only factor that affects the maximum number of clients your practice can attract. You need to know some basic facts about the people living in the local area. Most importantly, how many of them are pet owners? Pet ownership varies widely by area. For example, more than 70 percent of households in Vermont own a pet, compared to just over half of households in Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey. You can use these statewide statistics to estimate the number of pet owners in the area around your planned location, or conduct your own market research to get a more localized picture of pet ownership.

Household Income

To make your veterinary practice a viable business, you need to attract customers who can afford to pay for the services you offer. Use local household income data to find out which neighborhoods are home to pet owners who can afford to pay for their pets to have the best veterinary care.


When you think you have found the perfect location for your new veterinary practice, don’t forget to find out whether there are already vets operating in the area. Competition isn’t necessarily a reason to reject an attractive area, but you will need to think about how you can differentiate yourself from the businesses already established there. What will you offer to entice pet owners away from their current vets? Longer opening hours? Lower prices? Specialist services? These are all questions you need to ask before deciding to go head-to-head with an established competitor.

Suitable Spaces

Once you have pinned down the area where you want to open your veterinary practice, you need to find a suitable space in which to open your business. One option is to rent a retail space, which gives you the opportunity to try out the local market without the commitment of buying or building a free standing structure to house your practice. However, if you decide you want to stay in the area, building or buying your own property can provide long term financial benefits.


Opening a veterinary practice requires a huge amount of investment, so it makes sense not to skimp on research when picking a location. When you understand the local population and the competition you will face if you choose to set up your practice in a particular area, you can tailor your services to increase your business’s chance of success.

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