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Medtech Impact on Wellness

At WALTHAM Petcare Science Institute, the goal is to understand what drives health and wellbeing in our pets—whether cats, dogs, fish, or horses. Vice president of the institute, Kay O’Donnell, discusses the following:

  • How an identification of biomarkers and an understanding of the microbiomes of different species can elucidate what drives health and sickness in pets (e.g. a recently discovered biomarker helps identify cats at high risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD) two years earlier than it would otherwise be detected)
  • The importance of routine health checks and microbiome testing for pets
  • What factors cause the microbiome to change in pets (e.g. age, environment)

Through the use of vast amounts of data from veterinary practices and the implementation of an AI algorithm, the WALTHAM Petcare Science Institute has developed a method for obtaining useful information from samples of blood, urine, and feces collected from pets over the course of many years. This has given way to the ability to identify biomarkers that indicate pet health statuses and the likelihood of these statutes changing over time.

More broadly, O’Donnell sees this as evidence of a new approach emerging in pet healthcare—one that not only values proactivity and early intervention, but that mirrors the approach that’s emerging in human healthcare.

She also discusses the role of diet and nutrition in the activity and composition of the microbiome, how the comparison of oral microbiomes between dogs and humans differ and how this is influenced by differences in diet, and what the future of pet health and animal-human interactions might look like.

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