Genetic testing for the health and wellbeing of beloved pets is not unlike clinical laboratory testing to develop personalized treatments for humans
Clinical laboratory professionals know that the same patients who complain about a $10 copay for their own laboratory testing will happily pay veterinarians tons of cash to test and treat their beloved pets. And as genetic testing for humans becomes common place, more people are seemingly willing to pay for genetic analyzes of their pets as well.
In June, animal health company Zoetis, Inc. announced it had completed the acquisition of pet care genetics company Basepaws. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
California-based Basepaws is a privately-held company that provides pet owners with analytics, genetic tests, and early health risk assessments for their pets through oral microbiome analysis. Founded in 2017, Basepaws was responsible for the creation of the first at-home genetic testing platform for cats.
Basepaws sells easy-to-use genetic testing kits for cats that allow pet owners and veterinarians to better understand an individual pet’s predisposition to certain illnesses and increase the likelihood of early detection and treatment of those diseases.
It’s not unlike the drive toward personalized medicine and genetic testing that is at the core of human precision medicine.
Different breeds, different needs
Basepaws has a slogan: “Different breeds, different needs.” This means, according to their website, each individual cat has a unique composition of genetic traits that can relate to its needs for optimal health and wellbeing. Obviously, this would apply to all pets.
“As a pioneer in pet care genetics, the California-based Basepaws offers easy-to-use genetic screening tools for the early detection of disease risk in pets, as well as individualized breed and health reports that can identify traits, biomarkers, and potential hereditary conditions for pets. Basepaws helps pet owners and veterinarians understand an individual pet’s risk for disease and can lead to more meaningful engagements and increased likelihood of early detection and treatment of disease,” states a Zoetis press release announcing the acquisition.
“The addition of Basepaws will enhance our portfolio in the precision animal health space and inform our future pipeline of pet care innovations,” said Kristin Peck, CEO of Zoetis, in the press release. “Working together, we can continue to provide veterinarians and pet owners with more comprehensive ways to proactively manage the health, wellness, and quality of care for their animals.”
Test Results for Hundreds of Genetic Disorders and Health Markers
Basepaws currently sells three DNA test kits for felines on their webpage. The current price for an oral health test kit that identifies active signs of dental diseases is $69. Their breed and cat health DNA test kit, which provides results for over 115 known feline genetic markers, is $129. Their most comprehensive testing kit is a whole genome sequencing (WGS) kit which is currently on sale for $399.
After receiving a test kit by mail, the purchaser registers the kit online, takes a single buccal swab from their kitty’s inner cheek, and then mails the sample to Basepaws. Lab personnel then extract the cat’s DNA from the sample and perform quality checks to ensure the sample is acceptable for genetic testing. It takes four to six weeks for consumers to receive test results.
According to the company’s website, Basepaws’ WGS test provides results related to 43 genetic disorders that are represented by 65 health markers. The listing of genetic disorders contained in the Health Marker section of the Basepaws report includes data on:
- metabolic disorders,
- Musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders,
- renal disorders,
- cardiovascular disorders,
- blood disorders,
- eye disorders
- endocrine disorders,
- Skin disorders, and
- autoimmune disorders.
“The Basepaws team has done an amazing job demonstrating how genetic testing and data can improve how we care for the pets in our lives,” Abhay Nayak, Executive Vice President at Zoetis, told ROI NJ. “With the addition of Basepaws, Zoetis will continue to strengthen our portfolio of products for precision animal health, across genetics, diagnostics, and data analytics for pets and livestock. We are also excited by how Basepaws’ feline genomic and microbiome database will help enhance our [research and development] capabilities and inform the future of our pet care pipeline.”
Zoetis, based in Parsippany, NJ, manufactures vaccines, medicines, clinical laboratory diagnostics, and other technologies for the benefit of companion pets and livestock. The Fortune 500 company generated $7.8 billion in revenue in 2021, according to its website.
American’s Spend Billions Caring for Their Pets
An article in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS One, titled, “Exploratory Content Analysis of Direct-to-Consumer Pet Genomics: What Is Being Marketed and What Are Consumers Saying?” noted that US pet owners spent approximately $103.6 billion on their pets in 2020, with 30% of that amount going towards veterinary care and products.
The article also stated that the global animal genetic testing market was valued at $990 million in 2020 and is only expected to rise.
Thus, spending money keeping our pets healthy is not only a typical element of Americans’ lives, but also a mega-billion-dollar industry. With at-home genetic testing for humans increasing in popularity, it’s likely testing for animals will follow that trend as well.
In the future, some clinical laboratory organizations may want to consider assessing the animal DNA testing market for its potential to be a useful source of new revenue, especially because potential customers will pay cash when they order genetic tests for their dogs and cats.
Zoetis Acquiring Basepaws, Leader in Pet Care Genetics
Zoetis Completes Acquisition of Basepaws, an Innovative Leader in Petcare Genetics, to Strengthen its Portfolio of Precision Animal Health Solutions
Exploratory Content Analysis of Direct-to-consumer Pet Genomics: What is Being Marketed and What Are Consumers Saying?