Luxury ‘spa-cation’ for your dog? COVID-19 pandemic drives innovation, offerings for pets

DIGITAL INNOVATION FOR PET CARE

With pet owners spending more on both goods and services for their furkids, businesses are providing new options in the market.

Just as in the human world, digital innovation is a theme in the animal kingdom.

Singapore telehealth startup ZumVet offers online consultations for pets and their owners.

During the pandemic, the number of users in Singapore increased by eight times in a six-month period.

“As a pet, most of them just don’t like going out. And when they need to go to a vet, they know and they are very hesitant, so it’s a bit of a battle to have to go out. So what’s really lacking in the ecosystem right now is some sort of virtual touchpoint,” said Ms Athena Lee, co-founder of ZumVet.

As the former CEO of a telemedicine start-up for humans, Ms Lee was familiar with health tech solutions, but it took some work to adjust the business model for animal clients.

“It’s a completely different type of offering. In terms of workflow, in terms of how we have to build solutions, there is a lot more education involved,” said Ms Lee.

“We had to create that base line, create that foundation for pet owners to be able to find the right information they needed and to help them make quick decisions. And oftentimes that can mean life or death for a lot of pets,” she added .

According to the company’s market research, a significant portion of pet owners do not visit the vet regularly.

The company is hoping to cash in on this untapped market with its telemedicine alternative.

It estimates that the pet telemedicine market in Southeast Asia could be worth more than US$200 million.

“Pet telemedicine is only one part of a holistic healthcare solution. We see it developing into a clearer gateway for other parts of the pet industry – imagine customized pet diets based on real-time data, coupled with periodic reviews by a vet to calibrate your pet’s nutrition. We see this type of symbiosis of different pet care offerings catalysing the overall growth of the industry, especially pet healthcare,” said Ms Lee.