Veterinary diagnostics involves diagnosis of diseases and disorders of animals through various diagnostic tests and instruments. These testing procedures are performed using different methods and instruments such as chemistry and hematology analyzers; ELISA testing; PCR testing; and medical imaging systems that use blood, feces, and tissue samples from animals. Almost all diagnostic tests and technologies used in the veterinary diagnostics market are adopted from the human diagnostics industry, and hence, technologically, this market is largely affected by developments in the human diagnostics market.
With a greater adoption in the developed markets across the developed countries in North America and Europe, the global veterinary diagnostics market was valued at $2.8 billion in 2013. This market is further expected to grow at a CAGR of 8% by 2018, largely driven by the rising incidences of disease outbreaks in animals and increase in the adoption of companion animals across both developed and developing countries. Rising pet ownership and growing per capita animal health expenditure is one of the key factors driving the growth of the veterinary diagnostics market. According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA) National Pet Owners Survey, in 2013–2014, around 82.5 million (68%) homes in the U.S. have pets, an increase from the 72.9 million (62%) homes with pets in 2011-2012.
Veterinary reference laboratories are the largest end users of veterinary diagnostic tests and instruments. They play an important role in the harmonization of laboratory diagnostic tests as they are relied upon to provide a definitive opinion on the diagnosis and control of the disease. Moreover, reference laboratories have gained greater importance owing to growing concerns about animal health and increasing prevalence of zoonotic diseases. In the veterinary health industry, reference laboratories are looked upon as specialized centers with a database of animal diseases and relevant diagnostic tests, which helps in quick identification of any disease in animals. Reference laboratories also provide a wide array of testing services, which are typically not possible at a hospital site.
Considering the growth potential, many leading players in the market have started offering diagnostic services through their reference laboratories. At present, IDEXX Laboratories and VCA Antech have the largest networks of veterinary diagnostics laboratories in the U.S. In addition, there are other players like Abaxis Inc. entering into this market. IDEXX’s leading position in the veterinary diagnostics market is attributed to its reference laboratory service business. In the past few years, the company has emphasized on strengthening its product portfolio in the reference laboratories service segment. In this regard, in July 2012, the company launched the IDEXX VetConnect PLUS service, providing a variety of diagnostics services for veterinarians in the U.S. At the same time, the company also started a new web-based service, Pet Health Network, for better client communication and education for veterinarians and practice managers and their teams. In August 2013, IDEXX Reference Laboratories added a new Aller-g-detect Allergen Preliminary Panel to the GREER Aller-g-complete system to offer convenient allergy testing.
On the technology front, the companies in this market are focusing to address the needs for new classes of antibiotics and finding out innovative diagnostic technologies that can efficiently identify the causes of infection in animals and thereby avoid unnecessary use of antimicrobials in animals. A wide usage of antimicrobials over the years has resulted in resistant strains of bacteria that cannot be easily treated.
Also, quick and accurate diagnosis of animal diseases has paramount importance in veterinary and animal husbandry practices. Hence, many companies are focusing on developing rapid diagnostic methods for veterinary applications that are capable of providing definitive results in less than 24 hours. Introduction of new technologies such as real-time PCR offer various opportunities to veterinary diagnostic manufacturers to develop advanced molecular diagnostic tests with rapid and accurate test results.
Geographically, North America, including the U.S., accounts for the largest veterinary diagnostics market. With growing companion animal ownership, the Asian countries, especially China, India, and Japan, are emerging as the fastest-growing markets in this industry. Brazil has also showcased a growing demand for veterinary diagnostics products and services, mainly due to the substantial growth in the animal proteins industry in the Latin American region.