Pets have reason to smile thanks to start-up innovation
Gum disease is a condition that shows up in 85 percent of cats and dogs before the age of four. Without proper treatment, the illness is painful and can lead to other health issues such as heart or kidney disease.
To improve the health of pets and prevent the issue, Quebec entrepreneur Andrée-Ann Adam has been working on a first-of-its-kind, all-natural dental gel.
Now, as the demand for pets skyrockets during the COVID-19 pandemic — Humane Canada has recently reported that adoption numbers are up between 20 and 60 percent across Canada — Adam’s product has shown to be even more relevant.
Launched in 2018, Animora’s breakthrough product is unique in the pet care market because it is the first to fight gum inflammation and bacterial infection at the same time. Other products fight plaque or mask bad breath odour, but fail to get to the root cause of the problem, according to Adam.
“Periodontal disease in animals was long considered a bacterial disease, but we now know it is an inflammatory disease caused by bacteria found in the plaque,” she explains. “Our product directly targets the source of the problem, improving oral health while also preventing bad breath and plaque build-up.”
Adam was able to further her product during a Mitacs Accelerate Entrepreneur internship while she was a master’s student in the Department of Microbiology at Université Laval. She counted on the supervision of Professor Daniel Grenier from the Dental Medicine Faculty at Université Laval as she investigated the effects of natural products against bacteria that cause periodontal disease in dogs and cats.
The active ingredient in Animora’s dental gel is a concentrated extract of cranberries that can be brushed onto pets’ teeth, but doesn’t require brushing to be effective, meaning the all-natural gel can also easily be applied with a finger, added to food or rubbed on a toy or bone.
The texture of the gel has also been optimized for ‘stickiness,’ enabling it to form a long-lasting protective film on teeth and gums.
Competing products that require mixing liquid additives into pets’ drinking water don’t stay in an animal’s oral cavity long enough to be effective, says Adam.
“Pet owners want to do what’s best for their four-legged family members, and that includes using products based on natural ingredients,” she adds, noting that Canadians spend more than $8 billion on pet care each year.
Since launching in June 2018, Animora has received multiple awards and distinctions and is on track to becoming a global benchmark in animal dental health. Its dental gel is currently available in roughly one-third of Quebec’s pet stores and veterinary clinics, and the company is working to extend distribution across Canada, as well as into the U.S. and Europe.
In recognition of her successful work through her start-up, Adam received the Mitacs Change Agent Entrepreneur Award on September 2, 2020. She is one of five winners of the Mitacs Entrepreneur Awards attributed to start-ups that transform research into businesses that impact the lives of Canadians.
Animora is also one of the finalists for the Prix Innovation – Jeune Entreprise of the ADRIQ Gala that will be held on November 19, 2020.
Mitacs’s programs receive funding from multiple partners across Canada. We thank the Government of Canada, the Government of Alberta, the Government of British Columbia, Research Manitoba, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Ontario, Innovation PEI, the Government of Quebec, Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies, the Government of Saskatchewan, and the Government of Yukon for supporting us to foster innovation and economic growth throughout the country.
For information on partnering with Mitacs to manage innovation, visit Mitacs’s small business enterprise page.