The 6 Top Veterinary Trends for 2018 (and Beyond)

Dr. Patty Khuly

2018 Veterinary Trends

Every year’s winter brings with it a flood of emails detailing all the fun new events scheduled for our upcoming veterinary conference season. Now that we’re almost a month into 2018, I see a pattern emerging in the topics to be discussed and the new products and services getting extra press time in advance of their roll-out. Yes, this year’s top veterinary trends are finally starting to come into focus.

Here’s how I read the veterinary tea leaves:

#1 Targeted Therapeutic Diets

Pets are foodies too! But we already knew that, right? The trend towards therapeutic diets is no novelty. It’s been a top topic for years, so what’s new? This year there’s an obvious difference in direction as the well-funded pet food manufacturers continue to slice up the huge, and still-growing, high-end market for veterinary diets.

Therapeutic diets are increasingly being marketed for very specific diseases. Consider a food formulated for your epileptic dog (Purina’s Neurocare). Or kits marketed for post-surgical recovery (Royal Canin’s recovery kit). While their efficacy may be questionable, it’s clear that targeted feeding is a new focus.

#2 Preventative Products

Speaking of pet food, let’s get this one out of the way: Veterinary diets aren’t just for diseases anymore, they’re for prevention too. Worried about vision and hearing loss? The possibility of upcoming liver or kidney disease? How about preventing a slew of breed-specific diseases?

Targeted nutraceutical blends for preventing all kinds of problems (skin, joint, brain, kidney, pancreas, liver, eye, tooth, etc.) are receiving increased coverage. Even lab tests, like Idexx’s SDMA, are receiving more attention from veterinarians. This one can potentially predict kidney disease years before it becomes clinically apparent.

#3 Probiotic Therapy

We know more about the surface of the moon and the oceans’ floors than we do about the many millions of creatures living in our very own bodies. It goes without saying then, that we know even less about our pets’ “microbiomes.” Nonetheless, it’s clear there’s a connection between these tiny living things and our immune system. Which is why we’re now offering probiotics to pets whose immune systems may need some specific support.

Probiotics are cultures of bacteria given to pets to help shore up their existing bacterial populations, typically for gastrointestinal benefit. Not only will there be more interest in specific probiotic products, but in the specific study of pet microbiomes too. How cool would it be if probiotics could be used to treat specific liver, skin, thyroid, bladder, and pancreatic diseases too? Research on this is all the rage in human medicine and I predict pets will be next.

#4 Genetic Testing

With the interest in purebreds still on the rise (sadly), genetic testing is the trending. The Wisdom Panel is the industry’s leading player (you can even go to Amazon and buy a kit) and now that Mars just bought it (owners of Banfield, VCA, Royal Canin, among other big brands), you can bet you’ll be hearing a whole lot more about this and other genetic testing products very soon.

#5 Affordability Products

If you’re like me, you now have zero room on your credit cards for major pet emergencies. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There should be a way to make pet medicine more affordable and paying for it more reasonable.

Trouble is, veterinary medicine as an industry has grown so fast we’re having trouble figuring out how things should work. Pet insurance is leading the charge on affordability, making it easy for pet people to have their bills paid on the spot during an emergency. But other products are helping too. Vet care-specific credit cards, third party payment plans, and others are finding creative ways to help you pay your big vet bills.

#6 Individualized Everything

Now that we’ve genetically tested your pet and we know your pet’s breeds, you’ll soon be in the market for specific shampoos, tests, pharmaceuticals, diets, and supplements tailored to your pet’s recently revealed individual genetic profile.

Those are my top picks for 2018’s top trend. What’s your prediction?

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