Whether you're scooping it, bagging it, or bleaching it out of your carpet, dealing with poop is a downside of pet ownership. You may not appreciate the presents Fido and Fluffy leave for you everyday, but scientists studying pet health might. As Gizmodo reports, the Mars Petcare Biobank is seeking cat and dog stool samples as part of the most comprehensive real-world study of its kind.
In addition to its human food brands, Mars Incorporated own several pet food companies, including Cesar, Pedigree, and IAMS. The corporation has a vested interested in the health of its customers, and it's launching the Mars Petcare Biobank to gather relevant data.
Like human biobank projects, the new study will use biological samples from the real world as datapoints. Over the next decade, scientists plan to collect and analyze stool and blood samples from 10,000 dogs and 10,000 cats. The subjects will be asked to donate samples once a year, allowing researchers to track how their health changes as they age.
If you take your pet to a Banfield or VCA pet hospital, you may be recruited for the study. The biobank is looking for volunteers who visit one of the participating locations of these Mars-owned veterinary hospital chains. Pet owners who agree to sign up their cat or dog for the study will be required to bring them in once a year for a standard check-up and biological sample collection. In return, the cost of the vet visits will be waived and owners will receive a free activity monitor for their dogs, a free DNA testing kit for their dogs or cats, and an e-gift card.
Poop can reveal a lot about an animal's health, including the quality of their diet. By the end of the study, Mars hopes to have a robust database that pet experts can use to identify health problems before they become too severe. You can learn more about the project and the application process for pet owners at the Mars Petcare Biobank website.