How to succeed in the companion animal health market | Companion Consultancy

Some stats:

  • The global animal healthcare market is worth $30-35Bn
  • 58% of this market is farm animal and 42% is companion animals
  • The market for companion animal therapeutics is estimated to be $3Bn
  • There were an estimated 51 million pets in the UK in 2018
  • Spending on veterinary and other pet services also increased in 2017, with figures showing £3.5Bn were spent
  • In 2017 dog and cat food alone had an estimated market value of £2.5Bn
  • Rise in specialist referral sector; the number of vets holding RCVS postgraduate qualifications / awards was 2863 in 2012, rising to 4873 in 2018
  • 5705 veterinary practices were registered in the UK in 2018 (5069 in 2012)

Major influences:

Current trends driving increased expenditure in companion animal health are: pets increasingly seen as family members; internet knowledge accessible to all driving demand for more complex therapies; innovations in human health; one health medicine with human-animal crossover; and the rise in the veterinary specialist referral sector.

Know Your Target:

The veterinary industry is divided into general practitioners and advanced or referral practitioners. There is some cross-over between these parties, often dependent on geographical and financial constraints. If an innovation is niche, expensive or hazardous to use it may be more restricted to use within the referral sector. Your end market will determine both financial opportunities, scale and how you plan to market and promote the product. The end user is a partnership between the vet and owner, so the product and supporting materials must consider both parties, at the same time as being well tolerated by the animal.



The companion animal market being much smaller than the human health market is therefore a high risk for financial returns, but has significantly lower barriers to entry reducing cost of entry. There are several options to reduce financial risk, which should be considered in light of the potential market size and share. It also depends on the type of product and how wide the applications, e.g. the process for pharmaceuticals is more complex than for medical devices.

No license

  • If a pharmaceutical is authorised for human use and no suitable alternative is available to vets, a product may be used in animals under the prescribing cascade:
  • It is not permitted to market or advertise use in this way, although scientific publications and case reports are permitted. The only way to increase use of the product is word of mouth recommendations and the sharing of publications and papers detailing use.

No license, distribution via veterinary surgeons

  • There are distributors who employ veterinary surgeons as sales representatives to visit practices and demonstrate the use of non-licensed autologous products. Some novel therapies may be appropriate for this channel.

Full licensing in house

  • A high-risk strategy as the regulatory process alone costs £millions.
  • Complex and time sensitive.
  • For worldwide licensing, country requirements vary so the process has to be translated and completed multiple times.
  • Once authorisation for use is obtained, the manufacture, distribution and marketing all need to be considered.

Full licensing via a third-party organisation

  • Companies can complete the regulatory process on your behalf, but you remain in control of everything else. We can connect you with these companies.

M&A; partnering with larger pharma / animal health companies

  • Pros: Pharma companies have the expertise and finance for R&D, regulatory affairs, production, distribution and marketing worldwide. They also have the footfall of reps within practices to promote the product direct to the end users, plus presence at commercial exhibitions.
  • Cons: partnering with big pharma may come at a cost, with reduced independence, agility and the potential corporate stalling.
  • Who? Look who currently has the biggest influence in the relevant sector and is actively seeking out innovative products. We can help you determine this and make introductions.




Nailing down the target

We’d love to meet to discuss your potential market, specific to species and therapeutic or diagnostic target. We can then provide estimated size and advise on which channels are most appropriate to consider. Once the strategy is agreed, we can make introductions to key players within the relevant companies and institutions to get you moving forwards

Attracting investment and partnering

Companion Consultancy has over 20 years of PR expertise within the veterinary, pet and animal health sectors, and can advise on different investment channels and how to appeal to them through targeted press releases, trade show attendance and advertising. Whatever your budget, we aim to maximise your return on investment with us, and will create a bespoke plan to provide you with the best value for money.

Developing brand and presence

The veterinary sector has many quirks (did you know photos of dogs with short noses is a big NO, NO!). We can provide brand and design advice, and ensure you’re sending the right message to the industry as well as the owners at the end of the line. We can create SEO optimised website content and email campaigns. We can also manage your social media channels to ensure content is on brand and reflects your core values, using the appropriate terminology and tone.

Hitting the Target

Fundamentally, you want to see your innovation used as widely as possible. So do we! Our passion, as vets, is to see animal welfare improved and we work with that driving core value to ensure your product reaches the animals and owners that need it. Our expertise in marketing and PR to animal health companies, vets, and pet owners ensures we can put together a campaign to reach across the industry and into businesses and practices, and ultimately to the people and animals who will benefit.

For more information and a quote, contact us here