Pet Lover Geek

Purina Pet Care Innovation Prize 2021

March 23, 2021 Lorien Clemens Season 6 Episode 5
Purina Pet Care Innovation Prize 2021
Pet Lover Geek
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Pet Lover Geek
Purina Pet Care Innovation Prize 2021
Mar 23, 2021 Season 6 Episode 5
Lorien Clemens

2021 marked the fifth year of the Purina Pet Care Innovation Prize, and the companies in the running have only gotten better. The 2021 class of PCIP winners represent what's new and what's next in the $99 billion pet care industry. 

Join Lorien as she chats with the five companies from this years' PCIP competition and learn about the innovations these companies are creating to make your life easier as a pet parent. 

Learn more about PCIP

*** Looking for the deals we mentioned throughout this episode? Look no further!

ClueJay - Save 15% off any test kit using promo code PETHUB15
Plus, use code VETCHAT during check out and get a free 15-minute virtual session with a licensed vet!

Kitty Sift - Save 15% off your entire order using promo code KEEPSIFTING

A Pup Above - Save 15% off first sampler pack or meal subscription using promo code PETHUB15

Mella Pet Care
Mella is the first smart axillary thermometer that measures temperature under the foreleg.

ClueJay lets pet owners mail stool samples for screening without the hassle of vet visits.

Kitty Sift
A convenient, healthy, and sustainable alternative to the plastic litter box.

The only zero touch remote telemonitor for vets that eliminates unnecessary stress to animals.

A Pup Above
Fresh dog food with a unique cooking method that makes meat extra tender while preserving nutrients.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Thanks for listening! Check out our sponsor, PetHub for more great pet parent resources.

Have an idea for a PetLoverGeek episode or have something else you want to share? Drop us a note to

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

2021 marked the fifth year of the Purina Pet Care Innovation Prize, and the companies in the running have only gotten better. The 2021 class of PCIP winners represent what's new and what's next in the $99 billion pet care industry. 

Join Lorien as she chats with the five companies from this years' PCIP competition and learn about the innovations these companies are creating to make your life easier as a pet parent. 

Learn more about PCIP

*** Looking for the deals we mentioned throughout this episode? Look no further!

ClueJay - Save 15% off any test kit using promo code PETHUB15
Plus, use code VETCHAT during check out and get a free 15-minute virtual session with a licensed vet!

Kitty Sift - Save 15% off your entire order using promo code KEEPSIFTING

A Pup Above - Save 15% off first sampler pack or meal subscription using promo code PETHUB15

Mella Pet Care
Mella is the first smart axillary thermometer that measures temperature under the foreleg.

ClueJay lets pet owners mail stool samples for screening without the hassle of vet visits.

Kitty Sift
A convenient, healthy, and sustainable alternative to the plastic litter box.

The only zero touch remote telemonitor for vets that eliminates unnecessary stress to animals.

A Pup Above
Fresh dog food with a unique cooking method that makes meat extra tender while preserving nutrients.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Thanks for listening! Check out our sponsor, PetHub for more great pet parent resources.

Have an idea for a PetLoverGeek episode or have something else you want to share? Drop us a note to

00:00 Lorien Clemens

Hey there pet lovers, welcome to pet Lover Geek powered by PetHub. I am Lorien Clemens, and today I'm super excited, we are talking with five amazing companies about their products and services that are going to help your furry friends have healthy and fabulous lives. so, these folks that we are going to be talking to today are all part of the pet Care Innovation prize. Now Pet Lover Geek has been covering the PCIP for the last four years but it's five year program and of course you may have heard us mention before that were part of the Pet Care Innovation Network, which is a group of folks that won the pet Care Innovation Prize and then other companies that are involved with that. And so we're part of that network and it's really amazing and such incredible innovation going on in a super super excited that we get to talk to the five winners this year. So like I mentioned, this is the fifth year. 2021 is the fifth year of the Pet Care Innovation Prize from Purina and the companies that are part of this class of 2021, represent what's new and what's next in our $99 billion pet care industry! Oh my gosh, I can't believe how much the industry has grown in just the last 11 years of pet's been part of it. So today we're going to be talking with the five companies that rose to the top of this year's competitors-we're going to learn a little bit about them, about their vision for the pet industry space, and what they're doing. That's super exciting. So first up, we're going to be talking to Mella Pet Care and it's a company that's introducing a pet friendly thermometer into the veterinary, and at home pet care space. Hang tight. 

01:35 (Music)

01:40 Lorien Clemens

Our first interview is with Daniella Morgan-Pascualvaca. She is the Director of Growth and Community at Mella Pet Care. Mellow Pet Care works with veterinarians to make technology more accessible for vets and pet parents alike. So, they were the first to release a smart auxiliary thermometer. Well, what does that mean? We're going to find out in just a minute, but basically it makes taking the temperature of your pet. Much more pleasant experience, which will, I'm sure everybody will agree, makes the lives of everyone much better. So welcome Daniella, Super excited to have you here.

02:17 Daniella Morgan-Pascualvaca

Hi, thank you so much for letting me join the podcast.

02:20 Lorien Clemens

Yeah, we're really excited to chat with you about today and I don't want to steal any thunder about what the thermometer actually does. I'm a let you describe it, but I am really excited about this product, and so I want you to just kind of chat a little bit about first, about yourself and like who you are and how you work with Mella, and then tell us about this idea that you guys are bringing forth.

02:40 Daniella Morgan-Pascualvaca

Yeah, of course. So it's a little bit of personal background. I'm a third year undergraduate at the University of Chicago. I'm the captain of the crew team. I studied biology and business economics, and my hopes are going to vet school and getting an MBA, not necessarily in that order. Will really see where life takes me. So right now I'm the Director of Growth and Community at Mellow Pet Care. I joined the team. I would actually say exactly a year ago, and I joined through my University so I was a growth hacker intern. I had kind of a basic research job, but as time progressed I started getting a lot more responsibilities. I also happen to be the host of our podcast Mella Moment, so it's actually really funny to be on the other side of the interview process. It's a lot more exhausting, a lot more talking. You know. I usually just give maybe one or two questions and then I can sit there in silence, but here I go, rambling on and on and if you guys check out our social media if you get our newsletters If you read our blogs, a lot of that is work that I have done. I obviously don't want to take all of the credit for that, we have an amazing team, but I do help out with a lot of those things.

03:55 Lorien Clemens

Awesome, so I want you like, let's dig in and talk about Mella's vision. Where did this idea start?

04:03 Daniella Morgan-Pascualvaca

Right, so as you said, Mella's mission is very simple. We just want to make pet health care more accessible to pet parents, pet professionals, and pet's themselves. So right now we create smart vital signs monitoring technology, so that anyone anywhere can really get the insights they need to help their pets live their best lives. So it is the world's first axillary cloud based pet thermometer. It measures the temperature through the axillary artery, so if we pause there, that's a lot of words, so I can break it down for you guys.

04:35  Lorien Clemens

Yes, please do I mean. We have a very geekie audience, but I would love it if you would talk about 'cause we're not talking about the standard you know they lift the tail and stick the thermometer in where the nobody wants a thermometer stuck, like talk to us about what it means to the pet itself and like, yeah, breakdown all that tech.

04:53 Daniella Morgan-Pascualvaca

Right, yeah, so basically where we take the temperature is the foreleg or what we would consider for humans to be the armpit. So it slides right under the foreleg, and instead of going up the butt, it's placed there, it's non-invasive, it really doesn't hurt the animal, and right there you click your button right on the thermometer. It will read your pet's temperature and then it can send the data anywhere. Automatically it will go to our companion app and it will track the temperature over time, it partners perfectly with Tele-Healthcare with veterinary patient management systems. So basically you don't have to worry about sending your data to your vet to any of your systems if you are a vet you click your button, all of that work is done for you, and then of course you can look at the monitor on your thermometer and it gives you the temperature there as well. The beautiful thing about Mella is also that it works on dogs as well as cats. This is a question that we get a lot right now it's just those two animals we're eventually work towards other animals, but right now, dogs and cats, and we have two seperate products that we're launching. We have the Mella Pro. It's geared towards veterinarians and then the second is the Mella Home which is for pet parents and it's designed to be a little smaller and less imposing for you know, pet parents to have at home.

06:15 Lorien Clemens

Yeah, totally, I mean and I think I mean I think instinctually all of us are like, well, that's a lot better than as you mentioned up the butt. Like, no, nobody likes that, and we had a show while back about fear free veterinary, and how important it is, you know, to to be able to create a situation where the animal can enjoy as much as possible the veterinary experience. And enjoy as much as possible the experience of having their bodies checked out, and so this is key. I think I love. I love this. So can you talk a little bit too about why something like a Mella thermometer is going to overall give a better service and better health record for the pet then that standard rectal thermometer? Because I know that like as having a human baby, my pediatrician always says well, the best way is really rectally, and I'm like is it really? Does it have to be and so tell us about why why this can really be a better solution all around.

07:13 Daniella Morgan-Pascualvaca

Yeah, of course mean right off the bat we know that pets don't like to get their temperatures taken rectally, just like we wouldn't. And to be honest you know the vet techs that take the pets temperature in vet clinics don't like to do it and the pet parents don't like to watch. I know, so I worked at a vet clinic for four years back in high school. What we did is that we used to take temperatures as an intake routine. So regardless of what was up with your pet, your pet would go to the exam room and then an assistant or a tech would go into the room. First thing that would happen is that they would take their temperature rectally, so not only did that cause the animal immense stress, it caused everyone a bunch of stress. You know the there was always a chance that the vet assistant or the vet tech could get scratched or bitten. The pet parents hated watching their poor animals squirm around and not to mention no rectal thermometers are not safe. They expose everyone to diarrhea and anal gland fluids, so we like to think that Mella really makes the process more efficient and safer for all and help set the mood isn't spoiled for the rest of the day for the first two seconds that everyone has been in the exam room.

08:29 Lorien Clemens

Yeah, totally, and I think to like the fact that it's connected to an app so that you've got a long term record right there that the parent can access as well as the veterinarian. So let's talk about it from the pet parent perspective, let's talk about specifics. You know how much does it cost? Where can folks find it? And how available is it right now?

08:47 Daniella Morgan-Pascualvaca

Yeah, so we have not launched yet, it's coming soon, so we're aiming to launch in the next couple of months. Right now what you can do is you can go to Mella-dot-AI and you can if your a vet you can sign up for our 30 day free trial. We'll send you the Mella Pro and you can use it for 30 days and then decide whether you want to send it back or keep it. The Mella Pro costs about $129. We will eventually have some distributors that vets can buy from, but right now since we haven't launched the best way to get it is just through our website, then on the other hand, for the Mella home, it's going to be about $49 for our consumers. Those will also eventually be on Amazon and Chewy and larger distributors, but right now check it out on our website and you can pre-order today and then eventually you know our plan is to really bring in Telehealth partners so that when pet parents have questions about their pets, they can be automatically connected to providers to answer all of their questions.

09:50 Lorien Clemens

That's great.

09:52 Daniella Morgan-Pascualvaca

So yeah, right now just sign up on our website.

09:54 Lorien Clemens

Awesome, that's super easy. And can you talk about anything else that you'd like looking forward? Vision, you've got moving forward from Mella and how far you guys can take that vision?

10:02 Daniella Morgan-Pascualvaca

Oh gosh, we want to take it so so so far. I mean, I know that these two thermometers are just our first product, but we have a long way to go from here. What we can talk about right now is our next product, which is our Biggie Body Fat Analyzer. It's named after our co-founder Ben's Dog, and so what we really want to do is that we want to create all of these hardware and tools that gather the data. Through this, we really want to create an ecosystem of wellness products that really complement each other, and so eventually what we get is just this entire system of product so that people at home, and veterinarians and Telehealth providers can really all work together to monitor their pets health, and we really hope to be on the frontline of that.

10:53 Lorien Clemens

Awesome, great stuff. Thank you so much for joining us today Daniella. Can you give us that website one more time?

10:59 Daniella Morgan-Pascualvaca

Of course. Yeah, it's Mella.AI

11:04 Lorien Clemens

Awesome, now folks, this pawsome product that we've just been talking about isn't available yet to the general public. OK, but you can head over to their site now and learn more, pre-order it if you're just jumping to get your paws on it as soon as possible. We've included a link in the show notes that will take you right to where you need to go. Up next we're going to be talking to one of the cofounders of ClueJay, another company that is making keeping track of your pets' health a little bit easier. Super excited to talk to them will be right back.

11:36 (Music)

11:48 Lorien Clemens

Up next is Nancy Willerton. Nancy is the co-founder and COO of her company ClueJay. ClueJay is super cool, It helps pet parents perform crucial health testing from the comfort of their own home and considering we're in really unprecedented times. I really this product could have come out in a better time, so Nancy, I'm super excited to have you here to talk with you about ClueJay, I think what your company is doing is really awesome so I would love it if I could just learn a little bit more about you.

12:18 Nancy Willerton

Sure, sure. I'm a veterinarian, actually my co-founder of ClueJay Dennis Shmeels a veterinarian also, but I am still a veterinarian. I practiced in Denver, Co and small animal medicine have done that for many many years and am well versed with treating dogs and cats.

12:40 Lorien Clemens

Awesome and I'm sure as a veterinarian you are keenly aware of how challenging the times have been lately, but at any time, a lot of times getting tests done and some some animals are easier than others to take them in and get tested-so this idea of having home health tests is really exciting for me 'cause I have some some animals, particularly my cats, that have to get tested on a fairly regular basis of different things and it's tough sometimes, so I would love it if you could talk about how and why you started ClueJay and you know what led to all that.

13:14 Nancy Willerton

Well, you know going to the vet stressful, right? You know that it's stressful for you, it's stressful for your cat, it's stressful for some dogs, and there are a lot of impediments to getting there. You know access to getting to the vet is not the same for everyone. You have to take time off of work, there's questions around cost transparency. There was a study out recently from Banfield stating that something like 50 million pets will not have veterinary care by 2025 just from a lack of veterinarians in certain parts of the country. So there are these vet deserts that are starting to form, and Dennis and I just are really passionate that we want to increase access to health care for pets, and so we started talking about about these these concerns about access and how can we address them and ClueJay really is what what came out of those discussions.

14:11 Lorien Clemens

Yeah, and so to talk a little bit about that. So what, what are you hoping to be able to accomplish, like give people kind of the overall vision and what ClueJay can do for them?

14:20 Nancy Willerton

Sure the vision is that you as a pet parent can have direct access to veterinary testing without the need for a vet visit first. Now you may choose to go to the vet with those results later, but you don't have to go to the veterinarian to access the testing. You can have control over that process when that needs to be done, and share those results with your veterinarian. These are test results that are the same reference level lab testing that I run in my veterinary hospitals here in Denver, and they're easily communicated to you in a way that makes sense so you understand what's being tested and why, and their communicated to the veterinarian to know that these are legit tests. We've launched initially with three different types of fecal stool testing for cats and three for dogs that can meet a range of testing needs from your yearly, annual test to checking you know when you come home that day and your dog has had diarrhea on the kitchen floor-you know, it ranges from wellness to actual testing for concern.

15:35 Lorien Clemens

And so tell me. So I'm a I'm a pet parent an I know that my cat or my dog needs testing because I'm like there's like you said, come home in the diarrhea on the floor, what have you. So talk me through like how this would work? How does the test work? I mean how do I get a sample? How do I send it to you? How do we preserve it? I used to take in the poop in a bag under the freezer overnight.

15:57 Nancy Willerton

In your car right? Yeah, you don't have to do that anymore, so you would purchase a ClueJay kit. You can get them at our website online, Amazon, your local pet supply store, that kind of thing, and the kit includes everything you need to know and to do. Basically what you do is you hop on our dashboard online and register your pet and it links automatically to the kit that you have. Then inside the kit there are two different test tubes and gloves, so you can just put a little bit of just a blueberry size amount of poop in two different tubes. One of them contains a preservative, and one of them is just a straight sample. Screw the lids back on, pop it in the box, the kit that box that you purchased, seal it up and drop it in the mailbox, you don't have to write anything down. You don't have to. Postage is already on the box, so it's super simple. Just collect it and drop it in the mail.

16:57 Lorien Clemens

Yeah, that's awesome. So Nancy why use ClueJay rather than maybe some of the other kits that might be out there on the market.

17:06 Nancy Willerton

Yeah, it's it's really important to ClueJay that we are the true reference lab test results that veterinarians can accept. There's nothing worse than buying some kind of product that you're trying to do the right thing with your pet, only to have the veterinarian say these results aren't real. We have true real authentic results that you can take straight to your vet, that's actually pretty important.

17:30 Lorien Clemens

Yeah, I was mentioning to you earlier that was one of the experiences that I had had with one of soon as a competitor in the same space that I purchased several of these kits to do and then when I took them in the vets like, you know, this is really not accurate. I need you still to bring him in to get a urine sample, which Tormund wasn't very happy about it, so I appreciate that about about what you guys are doing,that's great. You talked about the fecal sample is that all that kind of test that you have right now or what do you have coming in the future?

17:59 Nancy Willerton

Yeah, that's what we've launched with, we are a fairly young company, so that those three SKU's for cats and dogs are in the marketplace now. We have a number of test types that will be rolling out in the next 12 months, for instance full year analysis, urine sample testing. Now that's time sensitive that we need to get that sample to the lab right away, so those are overnighted to our lab, but that's also going to be, you know, postage paid right on the kit. We have some other test types coming related to allergies and itchy dogs and ear infections and a number of other kind of common problems that you can easily collect samples for at home.

18:43 Lorien Clemens

That's exciting. I'm super excited about the analysis one, because that's the one that we have to bring. 

18:49 Nancy Willerton

For your cat, yeah, cats don't want to go to the vet to give up a urine sample.

18:52 Lorien Clemens

Oh my gosh no, and that's something that we have to do regularly with him and it's going to be a life long problem with him 'cause its condition that he's had since we first adopted him from the shelter and you know, it's yeah it's like one of those things are like he knows. He knows that it's time to go into the vet. It's it's battle, every single time

19:09 Nancy Willerton

they were totally reading your body language.

19:10 Lorien Clemens

They really are. So I'm really looking forward to your analysis one coming out, that will be awesome. So make sure everybody knows where to find out more about ClueJay.

19:18 Nancy Willerton

Yes Everybody asks about the name, clue is that we get a clue from your samples as to what's going on with your pet and jay because we fly samples all over the country. So it's ClueJay, C.L.U.E

19:36 Lorien Clemens

Perfect. Thank you so much for coming on and congratulations again for the PCIP award.

19:40 Nancy Willerton

Thank you. We're so honored.

19:42 Lorien Clemens

OK, pet lovers, we're going to take another quick break, but before that I just wanted to make sure that you know about this awesome deal that ClueJay is offering to all of our Pet Lover Geek listeners. You can get 15% off any kit from ClueJay by using the code PETHUB15. Just use the link that's in the show notes to check out all the options available on ClueJay's website and here's a bonus folks. If you use promo code VETCHAT during checkout, you'll get a free 15 minute virtual session with a licensed vet isn't that cool, so be sure to add both PETHUB15 to save 15% and VETCHAT for your free virtual session. When we come back, we're going to be talking to Carrie Van Wert, the CEO of KittySift, a convenient and sustainable alternative to those smelly plastic litter boxes, stay tuned. 

20:38 (Music)

20:53 Lorien Clemens

Alright pet lovers our next interview is for the kitty folks. We are interviewing the President and CEO of KittySift Carrie Van Wert. Now you know that when it's the dreaded time to clean the litter box and you're having flashbacks to the last time you did it, how devastating that time can be, and for those of us who have to do it on a regular basis, we are really excited to have somebody like Kittysift out there, who's created a convenient, healthy and sustainable alternative to that stinky plastic litter box. Welcome to the show, Carrie.

21:30 Carrie Van Wert

Well thank you very much I'm happy to be here.

21:33 Lorien Clemens

So we have two cats and I don't know if you can see in the video that we're sharing that I know our listeners can't hear, but in the in the corner over there there's a big huge cat tree and everything like that so but

21:44 Carrie Van Wert

Oh well I can't see it.

21:45 Lorien Clemens

Well, that's OK, I'll I'll show you another time, but cats are a big part of our lives here in our house and so really excited to learn more about this new product. But before we dig on into the Kittysift, I want to get a better idea about who you are and how you came up with the idea for Kittyswift

22:02 Carrie Van Wert

Great sure, so basically I am a former entrepreneur. I ran a printing and packaging company for about 20 years. I sold that business to stay home with their three boys and are three, uh, two cats and one dog and I had time on my hands and I started volunteering at the Humane Society and that's when I was on the cat adoption floor and I notice that so many cats were being surrendered, or returned, and it would always state on their paperwork that it was for litter box issues, and I thought you know what, we've got an issue here with cats-are you know rejecting their box for some reason. Is that because of the archaic method we have with a plastic litter box and a plastic scoop? And I thought there's got to be a better way, and so that's when I started thinking about designs and I invented Kitty Sift.

23:02 Lorien Clemens

Awesome and yeah I definitely and we have had this happen in our house where we've had to throw away the plastic litter box every year or so because it just no matter how much you try to stay on top of it, it just starts to stink and smell, and so I would love it if you could explain what the differences with your Kittysift and how it works.

23:21 Carrie Van Wert

Absolutely. So I started thinking about designs and I thought why can't we have a multi layered sifting litter box? Something that would help eliminate the scoop. So as we say, no more scooping, and it allows you to simply lift the top layer and the waste automatically comes to the surface so you're not trying to find the waste, it automatically rises, and then you're able to dispose. And then what you can do is reuse the tray as many times as you would like. And it is made of 100% post consumer waste-recycled cardboard, so it is molded pulp and that allows it to be a sustainable alternative as we said to the plastic litter box, and there's several benefits to having it made out of molded pulp. For example, molded pulp is basically just old Cardboard boxes melted down and repurposed into our product, and cats love cardboard boxes. They're automatically attracted to the wood fiber, the smell, the feel, the texture. They don't necessarily like the plastic or the plastic liners and so our product gives the kitties a little bit better surface, it breathes, it helps the litter stay cleaner and drier, fresher, longer. It's not this non porous plastic, that when you've got moisture going in, it wouldn't breathe and so unless the litter is doing a great job, that can be a breeding ground for bacteria and ammonia odor and our system allows it to stay cleaner and fresher longer.

25:01 Lorien Clemens

And so do you have to eventually you know change out the box and get a new one. I mean is it considered something that eventually you'll need to, recycle that that one and then start with a new one?

25:13 Carrie Van Wert

Right, well when I first invented it, I thought you know what, let's make it relatively thin, and people will want to you know, to recycle it or dispose of it in a quicker timeframe. What we quickly thereafter learned is that people want to reuse this, for, you know, a month-two-three as many months as they can, and they can keep it clean, and so we've actually made Kittysift, let's call it 2.0, and it's quite a bit more durable, it's thicker. We're using a North American supplier now with better grade A. Raw materials so that the product is much more durable now and it is able to be maintained. As long as it's well maintained, it can last for quite awhile. Now we really don't like to say exactly how many weeks we do, you know. Obviously it has a water resistant coating in it. Last for four weeks at least at a minimum. But what we find is many customers are keeping it longer, just depending upon how well they maintain, what the kitties habits are? How many kitties? Etc.

26:25 Lorien Clemens

Yeah, and does it work with any kind of litter? Because we have one cat that's particular about the kind of litter that you use. Or does this specific type of litter?

26:32 Carrie Van Wert

Well, it's made to work with clumping litter, so if someone is not using the clumping litter, it really wouldn't lend itself well to the sifting, and also a finer grain, we found works best. Because then that allows that to be able to sift quicker, you should be able to sift within 26 seconds or less,

26:58 Lorien Clemens

Oh you've timed it, I love it. So precise.

26:59 Carrie Van Wert

Oh yeah.

27:01 Lorien Clemens

Well that's a sign of a good product if you're doing that level of testing and so, so let's talk then about price point, because if I'm listening and I'm like, well, wait a minute, I'm going to have to buy a new one of these every four to six weeks, like what's the cost is going to be for that for me,

27:14 Carrie Van Wert

Right, exactly it lists for $19.99, either on Amazon or on And now we're in store Target as well, so it's relatively economical. I will say it, it should last for more than four weeks, so you should be able to get a little bit better return out of that investment. Again, it depends on the number of kitties, the type of litter you're using, and how often it's being maintained?

27:45 Lorien Clemens

Yeah, and it's critical, I think too. If you're listening in, you might think, well, gosh, I might buy a plastic litter box that will last me for a year before it gets really gross, and it will only cost me $15 and I'm sitting here thinking, but yeah, think of all the medical bills I'm saving, and frankly, as you mentioned, returns to shelter that we're hopefully preventing, and just overall general, you know, enjoyment for the cats, because they're having a better experience in the bathroom.

28:13 Carrie Van Wert

Exactly right, and this, so that's what we like to say as well is it allows your kitty to have a clean bathroom in a matter of seconds, and just knowing how important the litter boxes to the well being of the cat, they're are naturally attracted to it. They enjoy the smell, the feel, the texture, and so it, you know, it is more expensive than a plastic litter box, but we think that this product will allow you to have more enjoyment. A cleaner fresher experience, and then as long as it's well maintained you should be able to yield several weeks of use, if not more out of the material awesome.

28:55 Lorien Clemens

Awesome, now you mentioned that you'd already had Kittysift 2.0, so that leads to the question of what's next? What's the 3.0? What's in store?

29:03 Carrie Van Wert

Well, I actually can't disclose that at this time, but we are working on many more sustainable products that help animals and their humans to be able to have a cleaner easier experience that protects the kitties and the planet.

29:21 Lorien Clemens

Thank you, that's awesome. I wouldn't expect you to give away any of your secret sauce for sure. I really appreciate you coming on. You mentioned that folks can get it at Target, but where else can they get the Kittysift and how can they learn about more online?

29:33 Carrie Van Wert

They can, and we sell our product on as well as,, PetSmart. It's going to be launching on Petco on Earth Day, and at as we said and then in store target.

29:52 Lorien Clemens

Fantastic, that's super exciting for you. Congratulations.

29:55 Carrie Van Wert

Thank you so much. We're so happy to have the product, and have this opportunity to share it with all of you.

30:01 Lorien Clemens

Fantastic, well we can't wait to see what else Kittysift does, and before we take a break listeners I wanted to make sure that you know that we are offering an awesome deal to our Pet Lover Geek fans. You can use the code HAPPYSIFTING to save 15% on your entire order at, that's really a great deal. It's such a good opportunity to give this product a try. So we're going to add all those details into the show notes for the episode, so don't worry if you didn't write that down fast enough it's going to be in the show notes. We gotta take a quick break, but stick around pet lovers because when we come back we're going to be talking about a zero touch Telemonitor for veterinarians. VetGuardian's remote continuously gathers patients vitals from up to five feet away. It's making it so that pets and vets are much happier when they have to get all those stats. We're going to be right back. 

30:51 (Music)

31:00 Lorien Clemens

Hey pet lover I know that we have been throwing a ton of really great deals your way this episode so don't worry, feel free to pause, head over to the show notes and start checking those out. I'll still be here after you take advantage of those great deals. So what are you waiting for? 

31:14 (Music)

31:24 Lorien Clemens

Alright folks, we are back and we are talking to Scott Ijaz, he is the Chief Revenue Officer of VetGuardian and today he's going to be talking with us about VetGuardian and everything it does to make pets lives easier with their vets. Super excited. So welcome Scott love having you here.

31:42 Scott Ijaz

Thanks for having me on

31:43 Lorien Clemens

Now I I'm really excited to hear about VetGuardian, but i'd like if you could like kind of take us back and tell us a little bit about you, and then maybe talked about how VetGuardian started and how you're involved there.

31:53 Scott Ijaz

Yeah, absolutely. So I lived in Ohio most of my life. First and foremost, i'm a new uncle. So little baby Vienae and little baby Ashton are my nephews

32:05 Lorien Clemens

Aw cute!

32:06 Scott Ijaz

Excited about that. I have a background in philosophy and medical ethics, and somehow I found myself in pet technology.

32:13 Lorien Clemens

Well of course.

32:14 Scott Ijaz

Really happy to be here. I've been in the industry for about 2 1/2 years almost but it's a fun industry to be in and I love interacting with everybody in it.

32:23 Lorien Clemens

Yeah, its funny that you say that. I mean, I was in theater and education and for decades and that all of a sudden I ended in the pet industry and I'm like, oh, I like it here, so welcome to the pet industry. It's a fun place to be.

32:37 Scott Ijaz

Thank you. Yeah I could see myself being here for awhile.

32:40 Lorien Clemens

Yeah it's a really wonderful industry. It's full of so much love and compassion. Obviously because we're talking about our fur-kids or feathered-kids or scale-kids or whatever, but we're talking about these animals that give us so much joy in life and then to also be in a tech space there, so we're using technology that's been helping humans for a long, long time. We're actually now bringing it into the animal world is super exciting for me as a geek, and I'm sure it is for you as well, so I'd love it if you could talk a little bit about, you know VetGuardian and how it started, and what's it all about.

33:14 Scott Ijaz

Absolutely, so VetGuardian is an advanced warning system for veterinarians that tells them when pets are in danger, and when I say zero touch I really mean it, nothing touches the animal at all, and as a result it's able to eliminate stress and provides complete peace of mind that pets are relaxed and supervised at the clinic. So two domain application for VetGuardian are for post surgical and overnight monitoring. And that's what we're trying to do. We're just trying to keep pets safer at the end of the day,

33:50 Lorien Clemens

Yeah, and I was lucky enough to get to watch a little demo with one of your cohort and how it works is super exciting, but I would like it since you know where everybody is listening here, they don't get to see the video. Can you kind of explain what the what the device is and what it does for the actual experience for the pet? Who is, you know they're getting whatever medical care they are having to get, and then also then the veterinarian how it makes all of that easier.

34:15 Scott Ijaz

Absolutely, so it would help to understand how we're getting vital signs today, so most veterinarians get vital signs through manual checks with a stethoscope or rectal thermometer. You know, a lot of people don't like rectal thermometers. Animal patients are no different, except they're not even sure why you're doing it in the first place. So same thing with wires you know, humans don't like being attached to wires for long periods of time, and animals don't either, and as a result they can chew through them. It makes them more agitated. So we solve this problem and we developed the solution that eliminates all stress from the monitoring process, so our goal is to keep animals relaxed because when you keep them relaxed, you're actually able to deliver higher quality care. You know there's a lot of research to show that stressed animals, have more negative outcomes in certain scenarios, so you know we are helping veterinarians keep those animals relaxed.

35:14 Lorien Clemens

Yeah, and we've actually had a lot of episodes that have focused on fear-free veterinary care and that whole movement of being fear-free and this fits so beautifully into that, and so can you talk a little bit about like how the device is actually helping change the veterinary care because you mentioned the temperature and you mentioned, I'm assuming pulse and respirations, but but how does it actually work? Like take us through what an overnight care would look like now because they're able to use veterinary guardian.

35:47 Scott Ijaz

Absolutely. So you know, I'll put in example for 'em. So I have a dog named Luna and she had surgery a couple months ago, and you know I was just really worried that they're going to ask to keep her there overnight. You know what if something happened while nobody was there? And this is a really common problem in the veterinary industry. I know veterinarian's, it's not uncommon for them to drive back to the clinic in the middle of the night. Just to check on pets because they're so worried about them. So instead of them driving back to the clinic, VetGuardian can serve as a substitute solution. So the way that it works is that you put the sensor in front of the animal, about four or five feet away, and then you hit start. Then the sensor begins to send diagnostic information to the cloud, and the cloud tells veterinarians where pets are in trouble. So if after their shift if they are at home and they're worried about the animal patient, they can just roll over in bed and check their phone and laptop to see how they're doing. So this makes their lives easier because you know, they're not driving back to the clinic, and you know it makes pet life easier too because you know they don't have to be attached to these stressful or agitated monitors. You know, you can keep that Guardian up the entire night and see how they're doing through a live video feed as well. But really that peace of mind that we're trying to focus on and bring to veterinarians.

37:12 Lorien Clemens

Yeah, well yeah and then too for some pets it's really stressful just to have somebody come up to the crate--the carrier that there in and start to prod on them and stuff like that, and obviously manual checks still have to be done on certain things, but it eliminates those ones that no longer have to be manual. So I love that, and you've mentioned all the veterinarians, but then from a pet parents perspective, I mean, where do they fit in? Is this only something that's available for veterinarians or is there any part of it that the pet parent themselves is actually getting to experience, other than the fact that their pets are are a lot less stressed.

37:45 Scott Ijaz

Yeah, absolutely. Right now we're selling primarily to veterinarians, other animal caretakers. We have got a lot of interest from pet owners saying that they would want to use VetGuardian at home, but for now the product is focused on companion animal veterinarians. In the future we do want to expand in other segments. Bovine monitoring, equine monitoring, animal research, but you know, right now we know that there is an immediate need for cats and dogs, and we're bringing veterinarians to that sector first and you know you brought up a really interesting point previously, like you know animals get excited, they get agitated when somebody gets close to them. You know, if I'm close to my dog, Luna, she's going to start wagging her tail and start, you know, she's going to get excited and that actually elevates the heart rate and as a result it could be difficult to get accurate vital signs because you know that causes interference. So there's there's a strong argument to be made that you know, since VetGuardian doesn't cause that interference. You're getting a more true data set, you're getting a more higher quality picture of what that pet's health actually is.

38:54 Lorien Clemens

Yeah and I think that's so critical because I know every single time anybody touches 

my Boston terrier, she's all crazy, crazy, crazy, even when she's not doing well, right? And so the doctor always would joke, and this is even with my older Boston Terrier who had a heart arrhythmia. She goes. I think I still hear it, but it's hard to know 'cause she's so wiggly right now, and so, you know, up, and so it definitely would be helpful there. You mentioned too a little bit what you guys are looking forward. So one last question that I have for you you know and you don't have to give away any secret sauce or anything like that, but what can we expect to see in the near future from VetGuardian?

39:30 Scott Ijaz

We have an exciting Generation 2 product coming out within the next one or two months and it has a lot of exciting enhancements. One is a portable battery pack, so right now the system attaches to the wall, but with this portable battery pack you're able to walk around and hold up the monitor in your hands, and point it at animals, and this is huge because you know, veterinarians and vet techs are constantly walking around the clinic and you know some other features include temperature detection like I talked about before. You know we will have an advanced notification system so that when these vital signs are out of normal range. You'll receive a notification on your phone or laptop which prompts faster diagnosis and treatment. You know that's another aspect to that this new generation device is going to be able to help with, you know it will be able to help veterinarians react faster and if they're able to react faster, you're able to give better care to animals.

40:33 Lorien Clemens

That's super exciting

40:34 Scott Ijaz

And another thing that we added to the Generation 2 device is that we have more durable casing, so we know that, you know medical devices they are put in precarious situations sometimes when you're in a live environment. So with this new casing, it's going to be able to withstand falls. You know, potential liquid's that might be exposed from the animal, and you know it's really important that we have a durable device like that, and then the second thing I want to bring attention to, is the vital sign trending, so you know it's important to get an animal's vital signs at a static point in time. You know a data point, but if we were able to get this on a continual basis, you'll be able to identify new trends and diagnostic behavior and help you act more proactively. So that's one thing that we really focused on in this new generation device is the trending aspect, and we're excited to see what new data comes about because of that. So those are some of the features there are other ones too. I'm sure the CTO of the company is going to lambaste me for not listing the other ones, but you know it's really exciting product. Another aspect is going to be able to hang from cages as well. You know it's important that our device, you know, fits into the pre-existing environment of the clinic. We don't want veterinarians that have to change their habits too extensively, so we've designed this product to fit into their workflow so that it makes their lives simpler as well, because we know that you know they already have complex, difficult jobs as is, so we need to make a practical tool that, you know reduces the effort and time that they put in.

42:17 Lorien Clemens

Yeah, and that's important too when you're creating what is a disruptive product, you know you're disrupting the way that we have been approaching vet care, but you also don't want to be disruptive in a way that it becomes a challenge for people to be able to actually use it and leverage it in the way that it should be used, so good on you guys, I'm excited about that and thank you so much for your time today Scott. Super helpful you guys are helping keep our animals safe and that is what we love, what we do at PetHub we're all about keeping animals safe and protected, so thank you so much for that and if you're listening right now, make sure you go over to and you can learn a lot more about the product and I'm sure it will bring up a lot more questions for you. So thanks for joining us today, Scott.

42:59 Scott Ijaz

Thanks for having me

43:00 Lorien Clemens

Coming up next is our last interview with the co-founder and CEO of A Pup Above, Ruth Stedman Marriott. She and her husband love their pups so much that they started a company. I am super excited to share that with you. Stick around and we'll be right back with our interview with her. 

43:16 (Music)

43:27 Lorien Clemens

So as I mentioned before the break, we are chatting next with Co-founder and CEO of a pup above, Miss Ruth Stedman Marriott. Thank you so much for taking the time to join us today, Ruth. 

43:39 Ruth Stedman Marriot

Hi, thanks for having me.

43:41 Lorien Clemens

And congratulations on PCIP that's a big accomplishment and we're really excited to get to chat to all of you folks today, so I want you to start off with telling us about your passion. What got you into this crazy pet industry that you're now part of?

43:55 Ruth Stedman Marriot

Yeah, so my husband and I started the company for our own dog, Lola. We got her back in 2016 and when we when we got her we want her to eat a fresh food diet but we struggled to find something because at the time gently cooked dog food was not something that was available in stores and she didn't like raw, due to texture reasons, she wasn't into it, so we started looking into well, why isn't there like a gently cooked food? Like she likes it when we cook for her so seems like that should be a fair option out there, and that's what kind of got us going down the rabbit hole of, you know, how can we create a gently cooked food that Lola's gonna like? Eventually evolved into the business that is today.

44:51 Lorien Clemens

So I know so many people when you chat with them about you know how did you get started so it's 'cause I wanted something specific for my pet and it didn't exist so I said yeah, I'm gonna start the company. That's great it's you know it's the way things should be so I'd love it if you could tell us a little bit more about the food. So what would people actually be getting if they were using A Pup Above foods?

45:11 Ruth Stedman Marriot

Yeah, so A Pup Above is unique from other gently cooked options because of the way that we cook it. So we use a high end restaurant technique that's called sous vide. A lot of restaurants use this because it enhances flavor, it cooks meat perfectly. This is really the secret sauce to creating a food that a very picky dog like Lola really enjoys. And so for dogs that creates this natural meat gravy that stays inside of the bags, so Flavor-wise dogs like it. Dogs do like it, and then it locks in the nutrients that cant leach out to cooking water, like when you're traditionally cook food. So it's also a healthier food, so it's a healthier and tastier food. And then we also can pack in up to 70% more protein than other gently cooked foods, 'casue the way we cook it, and protein is a good thing to have because it helps with weight management, muscles, fur, and usually if you're not adding protein you're adding carbs into a food, so those are kind of the major ways that the cooking process makes the product unique and also exciting to dogs.

46:24 Lorien Clemens

Well you mentioned that it was also healthier, so I'd love if you could chat a little bit about like what kind of benefits does of gently cooked versus raw which you mentioned, or the standard kibble that everybody is really kind of used to or cooking for the dog yourself?

46:37 Ruth Stedman Marriot

Yeah, sure, so with raw you don't cook the foods you're not losing those natural nutrients that would be found in the ingredients, but the challenge with raw is not all dogs digest it well. A lot of people don't feel comfortable with it because it's not cooked. So there are pathogens a lot of times in the food. So if you have children at home or you have immune compromised people living at home, it's not always a good fit. With Kibble, you're processing food at extremely high temperatures, so you're stripping all those natural nutrients out of the ingredients and having to add other kind of vitamins and minerals to make up for that. Also has a high amount of carbs to shape the kibbles, so it's not necessarily the healthiest option for dogs. Whereas gently cooked, when you sous vide it, you cook it inside of these bags, you're not losing the nutrients to cooking water. You retain kind of those nutrients that you would get with raw, but all the pathogens are killed, so it's safer and then also enhances the flavor. So a lot of stores that we sell into admit nicknaming it Pup Crack because dogs just go like bananas over it, and for a lot of pet owners, just like seeing their dogs so happy at meal time is extremely rewarding, and so we have people who feed it whole. Or they just mix it into kibble as well. It it adds fresh food into the bowl, and then also it cuts down the process food but can fit within your budget that way too.

48:12 Lorien Clemens

Well, let's talk about that. So like the budget and like, how do I get it, and what does it look like? I mean like so specially for folks who maybe aren't familiar with anything outside of a bag of kibble or a can of food. What's the experience like from that customer perspective, and what can I expect in terms of my wallet impact?

48:29 Ruth Stedman Marriot

Yeah, so in terms of price. Our pricing is pretty similar to other premium canned foods, and the pet stores we sell into. But a lot of times with canned food when you open it up it's kind of a gross experience, right? It smells funky. It's not

48:45 Lorien Clemens

kind of congealed. It maintains the shape of the candy.

48:49 Ruth Stedman Marriot

Yeah, it's like very jelly, it's nasty. Whereas our food it's priced similar, but then you don't have the additives or the junk that stabilizing it, so it looks good, it smells good, so it's much more enjoyable experience. So we found that a lot of people actually use our food as a healthier canned food substitute, so if they're not feeding it hold they are mixing it or use it as a topper just as you would canned food. So canned food ranges anywhere from $4 to $10 a pound of food. Our food is $7.00 a pound, so it's kind of right in the middle of that. Whereas kibble is, you know tends to be lower than that, but it's also higher in carbs, so you're getting different quality of ingredients.

49:36 Lorien Clemens

So if somebody is looking to switch to A Pup Above, how should they go about it?

49:42 Ruth Stedman Marriot

Yes so if you're switching from--say you're moving from raw or another fresh food, it's pretty seamless to transition. Usually don't need much of a transition time if you're going from kibble to our food or another kind of fresh food, you'll want to gradually introduce it over a week, week and a half, because you're going to have much higher meat forward food, so it's kind of like a vegetarian going to carnivore. So you have to ease that end so the stomach can adjust to digestating a different type of food.

50:19 Lorien Clemens

Awesome and tell us where can people get it?

50:22 Ruth Stedman Marriot

So we sell through our website online nationally, and then we sell into pet stores throughout Texas and all along the West Coast. So we have a pet store locator they can check out on our website

50:36 Lorien Clemens

And is it like--because I know that pet food subscriptions are really a big thing now or is it really like I'm going to buy a couple of cans of food at the pet store? I mean like what's  the model I guess that you guys are using?

50:48 Ruth Stedman Marriot

Yeah, so we have subscriptions on our website. A lot of people buy from our website who don't live near one of the pet stores we sell into, but the pet stores sell into today a lot of people enjoy going in because they can also get their dogs bones or treats their toys like whatever you want to get it's a one stop shop, and a lot of these pet stores now also do same day delivery so they're also doing delivery themselves too. So a lot of the people who buy our food do enjoy going into these stores because they're like friendly neighborhood stores.

51:20 Lorien Clemens

Oh yeah.

51:21 Ruth Stedman Marriot

Or the employees know know your name. They know your dogs name, and they are there to help you out. So it's definitely a popular option.

51:27 Lorien Clemens

Oh we love going into our local pet store it's like one of our favorite things actually and finally now that stuff with the pandemic is calming down a little bit it's a little bit easier to go and to do that, but I really appreciate that you guys are creating another option for people who really aren't wanting to go that raw route, but still want to give that fresh, as you say, gently cooked options so that's really exciting. It's such a pleasure to talk with you today, Ruth, and I want to make sure that our listeners know where they can find out more about you could give us your website?

51:59 Ruth Stedman Marriot

Yes, our websites

52:02 Lorien Clemens

Fantastic, and hey if you're listening right now, you need to know that we have a very special deal for you today so that you can try A Pup Above. Use promo code PETHUB 15 and you get 15% off the first sampler pack or a meal subscription, that's super exciting. So thank you so much for offering that deal to our listeners.

52:23 Ruth Stedman Marriot

Yeah, of course. Thanks for having me on.

52:26 Lorien Clemens

Love it and we've included the details in the show notes of this episode so don't worry if you didn't get a pencil in time to write that down, don't worry, you can check out the notes, when you're finishing listening to this, we're going to take one more break and then we'll be back to wrap up the show. 

52:39 (Music)

52:51 Lorien Clemens

Woo! this episode has been fun. I just love talking with other companies in the pet industry, getting to learn about all the upcoming fabulous new products on the market. It's really awesome. Personally, I can't wait to try out some of these products that are not only going to help make my life easier, but they're going to make my pets life better and more comfortable, healthy, and all that. Super exciting. Just a reminder that several of these companies are offering amazing deals to all of our pet lover geek listeners, so make sure that you check out the show notes for the episode to get access to all of those really terrific deals. And if you have any topics, companies, pet news or other geeky stuff that you want us to explore on Pet Lover Geek, you can find us at @ Pet Lover Geek on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. As a reminder of this is Pet Lover Geek, I am Lorien Clemens and we are sponsored by PetHub. Have a great day everyone!

Daniella Morgan-Pascualvaca | Mella Pet Care
Nancy Willerton | ClueJay
Carrie Van Wert | Kittysift
Scott Ijaz | VetGuardian
Ruth Stedman Marriot | A Pup Above