Today’s Veterinary Business Staff
EpiPaws, the creator of the Pet Age Test Kit, has been named one of five winners of the 2023 Pet Care Innovation Prize, sponsored by Purina’s corporate venturing group, 9 Square Ventures, and Active Capital.
The kit uses an at-home mouth swab and epigenetics to estimate a dog or cat’s age within one year. A veterinarian’s estimation sometimes can fall within a five-year range or longer, according to EpiPaws.
“Veterinarians I’ve spoken with, especially those working closely with shelters and rescues, have confirmed how difficult it is to estimate age based on a pet’s physical features,” said EpiPaws founder and CEO Andria Beal, Ph.D. “Our estimates … can give more confidence to the veterinarian in what the true age of the animal is.”
With an accurate age estimation, veterinarians can better inform pet owners on how to feed, exercise and monitor the health of a dog or cat. In the clinical setting, the estimation can help with diagnosing a pet and determining treatment options.
Launched in 2022, the Pet Age Test Kit uses epigenetics, a technology that first emerged in human forensics.
The test is marketed to consumers for $120. When the kit arrives, the customer swabs a pet’s mouth, mails the sample and receives results in about four weeks.
The Innovation Prize helped EpiPaws connect with Purina as a potential partner.
“One of our goals is to use epigenetic biomarkers to increase the longevity of our pets, and research in humans has already started to show that food alone can decrease the aging rate,” Dr. Beal said. “Winning this prize has helped us get closer to making a collaboration with Purina a reality.”
The Fort Lauderdale, Florida, company hopes to offer the test to veterinarians at wholesale prices for use during an adopted pet’s first visit.
“Pet owners look to their veterinarians for guidance, and we think many would prefer that their vet collect the DNA sample for them,” Dr. Beal said.
The other four winners of the 2023 Pet Care Innovation Prize and $25,000 are:
- Artie, whose countertop appliance system prepares artisan-inspired, home-cooked meals for dogs.
- Happy Bond, the maker of preservative-free jarred dog food.
- PDX Biotech, the creator of OraStripdx, a rapid screening test for periodontal disease in dogs and cats.
- Sylvester.ai, whose predictive visual health care products use artificial intelligence. Its mobile app Tably monitors a cat’s health and mood.