From fitness bracelets to glucose monitoring, modern technology has made it possible for people to quickly, accurately and effectively keep track of their own health condition. And what’s good for humans is often also good for our furry friends.
The booming global pet care market is projected to grow to US$280 billion by 2025. In recent years, AI techniques and IoT technologies have enabled big-data-based smart vet projects and innovative pet care products such as smart collars and smart feeding and watering systems that can be customized using machine learning algorithms. These frontier technologies are also helping owners provide their pets with healthier and longer lives.
Cat kidney disease is a nightmare for pet owners. While most cat kidney disease develops with age, chronic cat kidney disease happens randomly, has no cure, and is the number one cause of death for cats over five years old. Mars Petcare, a Belgian company founded in 1937, has developed an artificial intelligence powered tool called RenalTech for early diagnosis of chronic cat kidney disease. The RenalTech system analyzes pet patient data including creatinine, blood urea nitrogen, white blood cell count, urine specific gravity urine protein and urine pH using a machine learning model trained on anonymized medical data from more than 150,000 cats. The system can predict whether a cat will develop chronic kidney disease in a period of up to two years with an accuracy of up to 95 percent.
While chronic diseases are a diagnosis and treatment focus, pet owners also naturally worry about the general health condition of their pets. Moreover, maintaining a healthy life can help protect pets from other illnesses. Founded in 2018, UK-based startup Vet-AI is working on an innovative technology platform that can predict medical conditions in pets before they develop into serious problems. Vet-AI uses a Bayesian network to mimic the way a veterinarian thinks and calculate the probability of an illness being present given the input information.
The ultimate goal for this tech is not to replace vets but to give them a tool that can help with early diagnosis. The company has already launched the first stage of its Vet-AI project, an app called Joii, which can provide comprehensive symptom check-ups for animal ailments.
Another topic that is attracting more and more attention is pet longevity. PetSensus, founded in Latvia in 2018, has developed a biomedical data platform using big data techniques. The platform collects data from pet owners and uses a homegrown machine learning model to generate a personalized pet care guide. Petsensus recently entered into a partnership with Insilico Medicine to find ways to extend pet longevity. The companies hope to use the PetSensus biomedical data platform to accelerate drug discovery research for ageing pets and service animals.
The pet healthcare market has unprecedented promise and potential thanks to the development of many new and AI-assisted technologies. Moreover, increasing global research collaboration in this area and on genetic studies and database building etc. will ultimately benefit not only pets but also livestock, wildlife, and even humans.
Author: Linyang Yu | Editor: Michael Sarazen