April 05, 2018

New Study Uses Data-Driven Insights to Improve Pet Health

Proactive, preventive veterinary care for their patients is the goal of veterinary professionals everywhere. It’s also the aim of a new 3-year pet health study launched by Mars Petcare.
By Kerry Lengyel
The Pet Insight Project—a tech-enabled study now open for enrollment—is seeking to uncover important links between canine activity, behavior, and health by studying data from more than 200,000 dogs across the United States.

“We are undertaking this cutting-edge research to pursue a future in which pet health care is improved by data-driven insights that connect pet owners and veterinarians,” said Leonid Sudakov, president of connected solutions for the Global Ventures, Genetics, Data, and Analytics division at Mars Petcare.

Phase One: Collect Data
To be eligible for the Pet Insight Project, dogs must be enrolled in the Optimum Wellness Plan at a Banfield Pet Hospital. Data will be collected through the pets’ Whistle FIT device (provided to study participants), a smart collar that captures around-the-clock behavior information, as well as through comprehensive wellness exams from Banfield Pet Hospitals. During the wellness visits, veterinarians will update the pets’ electronic health records with relevant changes.

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“Our vision is that, by applying machine learning to the immense data sets collected through the study, we may be able to transform the way we deliver proactive wellness services,” Jeannine Taaffe, vice president of digital health for Mars PetCare, said.

Phase Two: Compare & Uncover
After data from the 200,000+ dogs have been collected, researchers and veterinary professionals will then correlate both the Whistle FIT and Banfield data to map relevant patterns.

“Dogs don’t talk, but their data can tell us quite a bit,” Whistle Chief of Staff Garrett Wymore said.

Researchers will be looking for hidden patterns that may be early indications of illness, and then updating the Whistle FIT app to better detect those hidden patterns to make pet owners more aware. “Using the insights we gain through this research, we hope to utilize wearable technology to help catch and manage health problems earlier—ideally resulting in healthier pets and better health outcomes,” Wymore said.

Researchers believe they will discover patterns between pet behavior and movement and pet illness, ultimately bringing more personalized, proactive health care to dogs everywhere—not only through the Whistle FIT device.

“Our shared vision for this project is to revolutionize and re-energize the partnership between the pet owner and the veterinarians to identify and treat potential issues early—together,” Taaffe said.

The Pet Insight Project is now actively enrolling participants across the United States.

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