Financing a Veterinary Business in 2018

Pet healthcare is a rapidly growing and changing field that offers diverse opportunities for the small business owner, such as veterinarians. Veterinarians might work in urban hospitals or on farms, and with any animal imaginable. Because it is such a prosperous field, financing is relatively easy for veterinary businesses, and the Small Business Administration (SBA) is a prominent part of this financial landscape.

Understanding Veterinary Trends in 2018

The veterinary healthcare market, including both veterinarian care and the veterinary pharmaceuticals industry, was worth $25 billion in the United States in 2015, and is expected to grow to $39.7 billion by 2021. Growth in the field is being driven by increasing pet ownership and pet healthcare spending by millennials.  It is also being affected by veterinarians working in specialty care. In the companion field, for example, there are significantly fewer veterinarians treating cats than dogs, making cat care a promising specialty in the current market. While the majority of veterinarians provide care to companion animals, there are significant numbers of farm veterinarians and equine veterinarians as well.

About 85% of veterinarians begin their careers with student loan debt. As a result, it is important to research financing options. Veterinarians can find financing offers similar those offered to medical doctors, with exceptionally low introductory rates, followed by permanent rates and terms. They can also find specially tailored construction finance programs for veterinary hospitals and programs for women veterinarians. Even as bank financing is becoming more “flexible” for veterinary businesses, the role of the SBA in the industry remains large.

Many veterinarians enter and grow their businesses through acquisition of an existing business or a share in one. Reputation is exceptionally important in the veterinary field and is given a cash value in acquisition transactions. It is recommended that both buyer and seller commission valuations of a veterinary business before agreeing on acquisition terms.

Due to some of these factors, the pet care field is undergoing rapid corporatization. For example, the Mars company, best known for their candy bars but also a major producer of pet food, owns the two largest U.S. animal hospital franchises—Banfield, which it bought in 2007, and VCA, which it bought in September 2017. Both Banfield and VCA expand through the acquisition of existing hospitals. Banfield has a program to finance its veterinarians’ professional growth. Veterinarians have even formed a professional association to promote their interests.

Financing a Veterinary Business with an SBA 504 Loan

While veterinarians’ financing options may resemble those of other doctors, they have different changes from their medical counterparts. This makes SBA financing opportunities especially crucial.

The 504 loan is administered by a Certified Development Company (CDC) such as TMC Financing, and loans are granted in conjunction with a conventional lender (bank or credit union) that provides 50% or more of the total project cost. Your CDC facilitates the SBA loan for up to 40% of the project total, or $5 million ($5.5 million if the project is eligible for the SBA’s Green Energy Program), at a fixed, below-market rate. You provide 10% of the project cost as a down payment. The 504 has a 10- or 20-year term, with a 25-year option coming soon, and it is fully amortized (so there are no balloon payments).

A 504 loan can be used to:

  • purchase land or buildings
  • improve, upgrade or construct buildings
  • purchase equipment with a service life of ten years or more
  • refinance conventional debt

TMC Financing Client Success Stories

The Pet Emergency & Specialty Center of Marin provides round-the-clock emergency and specialty care in San Rafael, CA. Owner Jim Clark secured two 504 loans through TMC. The first was used for the purchase of the center’s $1.55 million building, and the second helped finance building improvements and equipment worth $1.9 million. Besides emergency care, the center provides surgical, oncological, ophthalmology, dermatology and internal medicine services.

Linda Steelman’s Bonanza Cat Hospital provides complete medical and dental care to the cats of Las Vegas, NV. She received a 504 loan to finance a $958,587 project to purchase and make improvements on the hospital building.

Animal Allergy and Dermatology Services of Las Vegas, NV is owned by Jared Russman and Ann Trimmer, who received a 504 loan for the $1.96 million purchase and improvement of their building.

Genever Fox received a 504 loan for her $357,500 project to purchase the building for the Redwood Veterinary Hospital in Vallejo, CA. Since Drs. Fox and John Huebner bought the practice in 1990, it has grown from two veterinarians to eight.

If you would like to see your practice grow, consider completing the simple prequalification process. The 504 loan provides accessible financing with flexible and cost-effective options that can make expanding a veterinary practice achievable. This is good news for pets and their humans.

You can find out more about using a 504 loan to finance the growth of your veterinary business from one of TMC Financing’s 504 loan experts. TMC is an SBA Premier Certified Lender and a high-volume loan provider. With over 35 years of experience, TMC can help you find the financing that is best for you and guide you through the 504 loan process. Contact TMC Financing today.


Barbara Morrison, a local small business advocate and civic leader, founded her first company TMC Financing in 1981. TMC is a Certified Development Company that provides commercial real estate financing to small business owners via the SBA 504 Loan Program. TMC consistently ranks among the top certified development companies nationwide, and has funded projects worth more than $9 billion across California and Nevada. Nearly 5,000 small businesses have benefitted from this financing, resulting in the creation of an estimated 50,000 jobs. TMC is also the No.1 SBA 504 hotel lender in the United States. Barbara is also the founder of Working Solutions, a Bay Area microlender whose mission is to provide micro entrepreneurs, particularly low-income individuals, women and minorities, with the access to capital and resources they need to start a successful business.
Barbara Morrison