Pet owners have always wished that their four-legged friends could talk and let them know they are sick or hurting. Emerging technology could soon make their wish come true.
During a keynote speech at Indy Big Data Technology Conference, Dr. Edward McGruder, Ph.D., DVM, and Chief Medical Officer in Alternative Innovation at Elanco Animal Health, highlighted the Internet Connected Animals revolution. With more than 50,000 global patents in this emerging area, experts expect this segment will grow 12 percent annually through 2020, totaling $2.3 billion in revenue in the next five years.
“Pet owners want to understand their pet better and have insights into how they’re feeling – to know if their pet is healthy or needs care,” McGruder said. “Meanwhile, veterinarians are excited about the potential this could bring to aggregate health data at the breed level and bring new insights into how to continually improve pet care and prevention.”
McGruder outlined three phases to expect from the technology: Motion, Biomarkers and response-based solutions.
Motion: Technology that monitors the animal’s motion is already on the market. These include collars and wearables that monitor GPS location, heart rate, temperature and other health factors. Instead of “find my phone,” now pet owners can have options to “find my Fido.”
Motion + biomarkers: Biomarkers are chemical entities that allow us to detect and monitor diseases. Take diabetes for example. Glucose is a biomarker for diabetes. By monitoring glucose levels, veterinarians can predict and understand how the pet’s diabetes treatment is progressing.
Motion, biomarkers and response: Combining all three areas of technology create exciting opportunities. Instead of just monitoring the pet’s activity, we’re approaching the point where we can immediately act on what the data is telling us.
“To continue the diabetes example: Imagine if a technology could detect when a pet’s water consumption and urination increase, both symptoms of the disease, and it sends a text right to the owner’s cell phone. The animal has told us there might be a problem before the pet owner is likely to notice symptoms,” McGruder said. “Taking it a step further, if the pet’s glucose level is above normal and has been for a few days, the owner might get a notice to bring the pet in for a check-up, or they might adjust insulin levels right from the phone. The veterinarian might even send out a new prescription based on the data.”
The potential for internet-connected pets is vast. Other applications include full digital medical history. Today 8.2 million U.S. pets are microchipped. If a pet is lost, a simple scan of the animal’s shoulder blades will give you a code to enter into a database to find the owner’s contact information. But in the future, it may include the pet’s complete medical history, helping improve the quality of veterinary medicine and care.
“At Elanco, we’re working to bring veterinarians innovation that helps pets live longer, healthier, higher quality lives,” McGruder said. “But today innovation is so much more than a product. We’re excited about the potential for this type of technology to further enhance the veterinarian’s role in pet care, helping them become even more integrated into the pet’s daily life.”
Elanco provides comprehensive products and knowledge services to improve animal health and food-animal production in more than 70 countries around the world. We value innovation, both in scientific research and daily operations, and strive to cultivate a collaborative work environment for more than 6,500 employees worldwide. Together with our customers, we are committed to raising awareness about global food security, and celebrating and supporting the human-animal bond. Founded in 1954, Elanco is a division of Eli Lilly and Company. Our worldwide headquarters and research facilities are located in Greenfield, Indiana. Visit us at Elanco.com and EnoughMovement.com.
 Grand View Research, Inc. February 2016. http://www.hexareports.com/report/pet-wearable-market/details