Weekly companion animal news: November 29, 2021

Fuzzy’s $44 million funding round signals the growing popularity of digital pet care, CEO says

Pet telehealth startup Fuzzy has received $44 million in growth funding to expand its network of veterinary professionals, TechCrunch reports. The company raised $18 million in a Series B funding round in March. Fuzzy, founded in 2016, offers 24/7 live chat and telehealth, ship-to-home prescriptions, pet products on its e-commerce platform, and educational content. According to co-founder and CEO Zubin Bhettay, the network can save pet owners up to $750 a year on health care expenses. Bhettay wasn’t planning to raise more funding so soon after the Series B round, but he said accelerated growth in the business enabled the company to hire more and prepare for expansion. More investment in pet telehealth, including by larger companies, indicates the market is shifting to the digitalization of pet care, he said.

AVMA encourages veterinary teams and clients to get vaccinated against COVID-19

The AVMA launched a nationwide education campaign that aims to encourage veterinary teams, their clients and the general public to get vaccinated against COVID-19. According to the AVMA, this initiative comes on the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recognizing the key role veterinarians play in public health. The campaign, scheduled to run through late December, will include printed and digital materials for AVMA members, including a social media toolkit, brochures and posters for veterinary lobbies and offices. Based on survey findings, approximately 90% of AVMA members are estimated to be vaccinated already.

‘Superpremium’ and sustainability are among the pet food trends accelerated by the pandemic: Packaged Facts

U.S. retail sales of dog and cat food are projected to be $37.1 billion this year, up 6.4% from last year, according to Packaged Facts. The market research firm predicts sales to reach $47.9 billion in 2025 at a 6.6% compound annual growth rate, according to its newly released report, “U.S. Pet Market Focus: Pet Food Update.” The pandemic has accelerated several trends likely to be important for the pet food industry in the coming years, according to Packaged Facts, including: a rise in popularity of “superpremium” pet food as a frontline pet health product; the advance of superpremium pet foods in nontraditional forms like fresh and alternative proteins; the corporate and consumer pursuit of pet foods with ethically sourced ingredients; and the erosion of boundaries between mass, specialty and online retail channels.

Merck Animal Health named best animal health company in North America by IHS Markit

Merck Animal Health has been named best animal health company in North America by market analyst IHS Markit. According to the announcement, the recognition is based on the company’s financial strength and product innovation. IHS Markit cited ongoing growth by Merck Animal Health’s companion animal and livestock businesses. It also cited Merck’s expertise in traditional animal health products and its “market-leading position in the burgeoning digital technology solutions in the area of tracking, monitoring and traceability as major strengths,” according to the announcement.

Virbac launches program to help veterinarians improve dental care

Virbac has launched a new “C.E.T. Dental Authority Certification Program” to help veterinary teams improve their dental health care delivery. The free, online program is self-paced. It educates users on the importance of preventive dental care in pets and how a comprehensive dental protocol can benefit both clients and clinics, according to the announcement. It also aims to help veterinary teams educate clients on the importance of dental health.

Demand for pet-friendly airlines spikes, report finds

Demand for pet-friendly airlines has spiked in the past year, according to a report by the travel service Next Vacay, which found that searches for “pet-friendly airlines in cabin” rose 950% in the last 12 months. As restrictions ease and new pet owners look to travel more (though a new coronavirus variant could throw off some travel plans), they want to bring their pets. Airlines may be able to capitalize on this demand. Alaska Airlines and JetBlue are among the most pet-friendly airlines in the country, according to Insider, citing the report.