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Merck Animal Health Survey Reveals First-Time Dog Owners Need Support

2020-11-23 09:06 ET - News Release

Veterinarians Offer Tips to Embrace Pet Care for Life

MADISON, N.J., Nov. 23, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Merck Animal Health, known as MSD Animal Health outside the US and Canada, a division of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA (NYSE:MRK), today announced a new survey about first-time dog owners and whether or not they were prepared for pet parenthood. Results from the "Embracing Pet Care for Life" survey revealed that taking care of a new pet, especially during a pandemic, may not be as simple as one may think.

Survey results indicated that 70% of all dog owners would like to learn new ways to keep their dog healthy.

While many people found comfort during the COVID-19 pandemic by bringing home new dogs for companionship, the survey found that 73% of those who became dog owners for the first time this year have considered re-homing once the pandemic ends.1 This is likely driven by a lack of knowledge of what it takes to care for a pet, as one in four (25%) also claim they don't have enough information to properly care for their dog. In fact, among new dog owners who brought home puppies this year, more than half (58%) say they wish taking care of their pet's health didn't take so much time, and 33% were surprised to find out how much it costs to care for their pet.  

"Based on our recent survey, it appears the pandemic has intensified some of the challenges faced by many new dog owners," said Christine Royal, DVM, Executive Director of Veterinary Professional Services, Merck Animal Health. "While people may have brought home a pet during the pandemic for all the right reasons, the reality is that pet ownership takes knowledge, preparation and patience. This reality is sometimes overshadowed by the excitement of bringing home a new pet. As a result, first-time pet owners who brought home a dog or puppy during the pandemic are experiencing a few more challenges compared to experienced pet owners. Luckily, there are several ways to streamline pet care that can improve the health and well-being of both dog owners and their furry friends."  

Survey results indicated that 70% of all dog owners would like to learn new ways to keep their dog healthy, whether a puppy or fully grown. First-time and experienced pet owners should work with their veterinarian to establish a balanced healthcare regimen and find effective solutions to provide their dog with the best care throughout its lifespan. As a company dedicated to improving the health and well-being of pets and those who care for them, the following data and advice that stemmed from Merck Animal Health's "Embracing Pet Care for Life" survey will help address the concerns of new pet owners and allow them to better navigate the world of responsible dog ownership. 

Expel Excess Energy
More than one-third (38%) of pandemic puppy owners say they were surprised by how much attention their pet requires. Additionally, one-third (33%) of the people who became dog owners for the first time during the pandemic ("pandemic first-time dog owners") and are now considering re-homing their dog cited their dog's high energy as a contributing factor.

  • Pet Care Tip: For those with pets that have excessive energy, try taking them on shorter, more frequent walks throughout the day. Pet activity trackers, such as Sure Petcare's Animo®, also can help by monitoring a dog's activity and sending alerts if there are any changes in behavior, so their owners can then make adjustments as needed. Always remember that excessive energy is common in dogs of all ages as they get accustomed to a new home.

Protect Puppies from Parasites
One-third (35%) of pandemic first-time dog owners say giving their dog flea and tick preventative treatments has been an unexpected hurdle, ranking this responsibility as even more difficult than housebreaking. With this in mind, it comes to no surprise that nearly one-third (29%) of all pandemic puppy owners, including both experienced and first-time dog owners, said they were surprised to learn how much parasites can impact their dog's health.

  • Pet Care Tip: For many pandemic puppy owners who were surprised by how much parasites can impact their dog's health; the key is to make sure young pups are protected. Puppies eight weeks of age or older can use BRAVECTO® (fluralaner) 1-MONTH Chews to protect them from fleas and ticks until six months of age before transitioning to the extended duration chew for adult dogs. Puppies can also be exposed to internal intestinal parasites, so it's important for dog owners to think about complementary products such as SENTINEL® SPECTRUM® Chews (milbemycin oxime, lufenuron, and praziquantel), which offer broad-spectrum, internal and external parasite protection against six different kind of parasites in dogs and puppies. Just remember to always talk to a veterinarian about the proper medications and dosage for puppies.

Simplify Parasite Prevention for Adult Dogs
Only slightly more than half (57%) of pandemic first-time dog owners consider themselves knowledgeable about their pet's preventative healthcare such as parasite prevention, even though most of them originally thought they were adequately or even overly prepared before bringing a new dog home. Additionally, 37% of people who already owned dogs have been spending more time with their four-legged companions outside since the pandemic started, which includes taking them on more walks (38%), going hiking (14%), camping (11%) and bringing them to parks more often (18%). As a result, they are potentially exposing their dog(s) to more fleas and ticks than usual, making parasite protection critical.

  • Pet Care Tip: Parasite protection is something that remains critical throughout a dog's lifetime. Keep it simple and effective as dogs age by transitioning them to BRAVECTO® (fluralaner) Chews, a single dose with extended duration provides 12 weeks2 of flea and tick protection for dogs six months and older, taking the hassle of monthly dosing off the doggie to-do list. Knowing parasite protection is critical to a dog's long-term health and well-being, pet owners should talk to their veterinarian about preventative products, such as BRAVECTO and SENTINEL® SPECTRUM® Chews, that fight against the most common, harmful parasites that affect dogs inside and out. 

Maintain a Preventative Care Schedule
Nearly one-fourth of pandemic first-time dog owners (22%) report they have encountered unexpected challenges when trying to schedule veterinary appointments. Approximately one-third (27%) of people who owned dogs prior to the pandemic said this was a challenge for them, as well.

  • Pet Care Tip: Regular veterinarian visits are key to preventing health issues among dogs, especially when it comes to recommended core vaccinations that protect them from serious diseases. A monthly schedule can help. Talk to your veterinarian about a preventative care schedule and try not to skip any appointments. Also, keep in mind that recommendations for some vaccines and other preventative measures may vary depending on the dog's overall lifestyle, activity levels and local climate, so talk to a veterinarian about your dog's unique needs.

Recognize Your Veterinary Team is a Valuable Resource – Even Virtually
Overall, more than half of pandemic dog owners say they wish taking care of their dog's health was easier and less time consuming (57% and 56%, respectively). Nearly half of pre-pandemic dog owners feel the same way (46% and 34%, respectively); however, only 19% of them say they have spoken to their vet more often during the pandemic.

  • Pet Care Tip: Your entire veterinary team can be a great resource for pet care advice, including the veterinarian nurses at your local clinic. As a pet owner, consider writing down all pet care questions and/or challenges in advance to gather trustworthy advice from the veterinarian during the next visit. And for dog owners having trouble scheduling in-person or curbside veterinary appointments, ask the veterinary team about telemedicine and if a virtual visit is possible. 

"The increased interest in pet parenting has been incredibly heartening, particularly given the emotional strain caused by the global pandemic. It's inspiring to see thousands of families opening their doors and their hearts to welcome new pets into their home," said Courtney Campbell, DVM, DACVS-SA, veterinary surgeon at Vetsurg. "As veterinary professionals, we aim to make these transitions a success and want pets to stay in their forever home. My goal is to always empower people to be the best pet parents they possibly can. I encourage all new pet families to foster an open and trusting dialogue with their veterinary medical team. Don't be afraid to ask for help or get your questions answered. With these pet care tips in mind, you'll be able to enjoy each other's company for a long time."

For more information and professional advice on how to embrace pet care for life, visit merck-animal-health-usa.com and follow Merck Animal Health on social media.

Survey Methodology
This online survey of 1,381 dog owners in the U.S. was sponsored by Merck Animal Health and fielded by Toluna from September 25, 2020 to October 1, 2020.

About BRAVECTO® (fluralaner)

Since its introduction in 2014, BRAVECTO has provided longer-lasting flea and tick protection with more than 125 million doses distributed in 85 countries. BRAVECTO is available in a variety of extended-duration formulations, including products for both dogs and cats 6 months of age or older, as one treatment with BRAVECTO lasts up to 12 weeks, protects almost three times longer than monthly treatments and is proven to kill fleas on dogs and cats and to eliminate them from the home.i BRAVECTO products are only available through licensed veterinarians.

BRAVECTO 1-MONTH Chews are for dogs 8 weeks of age and older. Side effects may include itching, diarrhea, vomiting, decreased appetite, elevated ALT, lethargy, and weight loss. Fluralaner is a member of the isoxazoline class. This class has been associated with neurologic adverse reactions including tremors, ataxia, and seizures. Seizures have been reported in dogs receiving isoxazoline class drugs, even in dogs without a history of seizures. Use with caution in dogs with a history of seizures or neurologic disorders. BRAVECTO 1-MONTHChews are not effective against A. americanum in puppies less than 6 months of age.

BRAVECTO Chews for Dogs are for dogs 6 months of age or older, and is safe for pregnant, breeding and lactating dogs.  Side effects may include vomiting, decreased appetite, diarrhea, lethargy, excessive thirst and flatulence. Use with caution in dogs with a history of seizures or neurologic disorders.

The most commonly reported adverse reactions include vomiting, decreased appetite, diarrhea, lethargy, polydipsia, and flatulence. BRAVECTO Chews for Dogs have not been shown to be effective for 12-weeks' duration in puppies less than 6 months of age. BRAVECTO Chews are not effective against lone star ticks beyond 8 weeks of dosing. Fluralaner is a member of the isoxazoline class.  This class has been associated with neurologic adverse reactions including tremors, ataxia, and seizures. Seizures have been reported in dogs receiving isoxazoline class drugs, even in dogs without a history of seizures. Use with caution in dogs with a history of seizures or neurologic disorders.

**BRAVECTO Chews for Dogs kill fleas, prevents flea infestations, and kills ticks (black-legged tick, American dog tick, and brown dog tick) for 12 weeks. BRAVECTO Chews also kills lone star ticks for 8 weeks.

With convenient and effective once-a-month dosing, SENTINEL® branded products protect against fleas and common intestinal parasites. Available by prescription only, SENTINEL® SPECTRUM® Chews (milbemycin oxime, lufenuron, and praziquantel) is the only monthly oral preventative medicine that gives protection against six different kind of parasites including tapeworms, while offering a soft beef and bacon flavored chew that dogs love.1 SENTINEL SPECTRUM Chews offer prevention of heartworms disease, while treating and controlling adult stages of tapeworms, hookworms, roundworms and whipworms. With lufenuron, SENTINEL SPECTRUM Chews prevent flea eggs from hatching, therefore controlling the development of flea populations. SENTINEL SPECTRUM Chews are indicated for the prevention of heartworm disease caused by Dirofilaria immitis; for the prevention and control of flea populations (Ctenocephalides felis); and for the treatment and control of adult roundworm (Toxocara canis, Toxascaris leonina), adult hookworm (Ancylostoma caninum), adult whipworm (Trichuris vulpis), and adult tapeworm (Dipylidium caninum, Taenia pisiformis, Echinococcus multilocularis and Echinococcus granulosus) infections in dogs and puppies two pounds of body weight or greater and six weeks of age and older.

SENTINEL® FLAVOR TABS® (milbemycin oxime, lufenuron) provide protection against five different kinds of parasites. Available by prescription only, SENTINEL Flavor Tabs is a monthly oral tab indicated for use in dogs and puppies, four weeks of age and older, and two pounds of body weight or greater. SENTINEL Flavor Tabs are also designated for the prevention of heartworm disease caused by Dirofilaria immitis; for the prevention and control of flea populations; the control of adult Ancylostoma caninum (hookworm); and the removal and control of adult Toxocara canis and Toxascaris leonina (roundworm) and Trichuris vulpis (whipworm) infections. Lufenuron controls flea populations by preventing the development of flea eggs and does not kill adult fleas. Concurrent use of an adulticide product may be necessary for adequate control of adult fleas.

Important Safety Information:

SENTINEL® FLAVOR TABS®: Dogs should be tested for heartworm prior to use. In a small percentage of treated dogs, digestive, neurologic, and skin side effects may occur. For complete product information refer to the product insert.

SENTINEL® SPECTRUM® CHEWS: Dogs should be tested for heartworm prior to use. Mild hypersensitivity reactions have been noted in some dogs carrying a high number of circulating microfilariae. Treatment with fewer than 6 monthly doses after the last exposure to mosquitoes may not provide complete heartworm prevention. For complete product information refer to the product insert.

About Sure Petcare
Sure Petcare, the pet technology specialist, provides pet products that empower owners to care for their pets in entirely new ways. Founded in 2007, we have developed an award-winning range of microchip-operated pet doors and feeders, which solve many problems commonly experienced by pet owners. Sure Petcare™, along with HomeAgain®, is a Companion Animal portfolio of digital products within Merck Animal Health. For more information, visit www.surepetcare.com.

About Merck Animal Health
For more than a century, Merck, a leading global biopharmaceutical company, has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world's most challenging diseases. Merck Animal Health, a division of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA, is the global animal health business unit of Merck. Through its commitment to the Science of Healthier Animals®, Merck Animal Health offers veterinarians, farmers, pet owners and governments one of the widest ranges of veterinary pharmaceuticals, vaccines and health management solutions and services as well as an extensive suite of digitally connected identification, traceability and monitoring products. Merck Animal Health is dedicated to preserving and improving the health, well-being and performance of animals and the people who care for them. It invests extensively in dynamic and comprehensive R&D resources and a modern, global supply chain. Merck Animal Health is present in more than 50 countries, while its products are available in some 150 markets. For more information, visit www.merck-animal-health.com or connect with us on LinkedIn , Facebook, and Twitter at @MerckAH.

Forward-Looking Statement of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA
This news release of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA (the "company") includes "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of the company's management and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. If underlying assumptions prove inaccurate or risks or uncertainties materialize, actual results may differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements.

Risks and uncertainties include but are not limited to, general industry conditions and competition; general economic factors, including interest rate and currency exchange rate fluctuations; the impact of the global outbreak of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19); the impact of pharmaceutical industry regulation and health care legislation in the United States and internationally; global trends toward health care cost containment; technological advances, new products and patents attained by competitors; challenges inherent in new product development, including obtaining regulatory approval; the company's ability to accurately predict future market conditions; manufacturing difficulties or delays; financial instability of international economies and sovereign risk; dependence on the effectiveness of the company's patents and other protections for innovative products; and the exposure to litigation, including patent litigation, and/or regulatory actions.

The company undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Additional factors that could cause results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements can be found in the company's 2019 Annual Report on Form 10-K and the company's other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) available at the SEC's Internet site (www.sec.gov).   

1 Data on file.

2 Williams et al. Fluralaner, a novel isoxazoline, prevents flea (Ctenocephalides felis) reproduction in vitro and in a simulated home environment. Parasites & Vectors (2014) 7:275.


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