Development of an early health and wellbeing warning system for owners of companion animals

It should be a concern to all veterinary professionals and responsible pet owners that, although the number of companion cats and dogs continues to steadily increase, visits to veterinary practices have been going in noticeably the other direction for several years.

There are many possible explanations for this; economic pressures may well be salient, alongside readily available pet healthcare information on the internet. The evidence is clear however that owners do not fully grasp that regular evaluation of health and health-related quality of life (HRQL) can substantially benefit animals who cannot otherwise “tell” us how they feel.

Professor Jacky Reid, Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow and CEO of NewMetrica has recently published a research paper on measurable HRQL, co-authored by Vinny Davies and Marian Scott of the University of Glasgow and Andrea Wright of Zoetis, Inc.

Using PetDialog, a smartphone app developed by Zoetis, Inc which includes NewMetrica’s HRQL questionnaire for owners , the team analysed the health and wellbeing of over 6,000 dogs, aged between 6 weeks and 16 years. Of these, more than 5,000 were deemed “in perfect health” by owners, yet the app triggered a wellness alert for 27% of those animals, unfortunately indicating that all was not as well as it seemed.

In their paper, Prof Reid and her colleagues speculate that many pet owners unfortunately associate veterinary care primarily with vaccinations and the treatment of acute diseases or injuries. Also, that owners may confuse the signs of chronic illness with a “normal” aging process in cats and dogs. The result is that many potential benefits of preventative veterinary medicine are not being realized and animals may be suffering unnecessarily.

The paper argues that many middle-aged dogs may be suffering from undetected chronic disease, such as painful osteoarthritis or diabetes.  Their research also supports that the use of VetMetrica, delivered via the PetDialog app, is an efficient way for vets to provide pet owners with the opportunity to monitor their animal's wellness throughout their lifetime.

The information can be automatically shared with vets, providing them with a remote mechanism to identify pet health problems early, and stimulating owners to be more proactive in seeking veterinary attention.

Read the paper here for full information