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From Tech to Tail: How my sick pooch helped launch an Australian-first in pet healthcare

  • Written by Lloyd Hall, Founder of Wonderfur

It was my own family’s experience with our new COVID lockdown puppy called Lucky that inspired my two-year journey to develop a first-of-its-kind Australian pet health solution.

We had just acquired Lucky - our first-ever family pet – in 2021. He was an incredibly cute golden retriever, and there was a feeling of excitement in our family at his arrival, coupled with relief and freedom that accompanied Australia’s emergence from a protracted pandemic lockdown.

However, these positive feelings soon shifted to feelings of concern and worry as we noticed, within a short period of time, that all was not well with Lucky.

He started to have very bad diarrhoea and I was having to get up every night on the hour to attend to him as he was in a fair bit of distress.

It was very worrying and became worse, leading to a dermatological condition that caused him to constantly scratch, and an ear infection also developed – it was worse than having a sick child.

After multiple visits to the vet, the diarrhoea eventually settled, but not completely, and some of the other symptoms still lingered. Things were still not right with Lucky; even after all our efforts to seek help for him, he was not behaving like a healthy, energetic, rambunctious young golden retriever.

We began to lose hope of ever getting to the bottom of Lucky’s health issues, and that he may never get full relief from these unpleasant symptoms.

The lightbulb moment

But something in me still believed that there had to be some solution. It seemed extraordinary that there was no general gut or gastrointestinal preventative health remedy available for pets in Australian pet stores, online or even via the vet.

After exhausting all medicinal, pharmaceutical avenues, there were one or two strategies that we tried that were the only things that did seem to make a difference to Lucky’s gut health; this was to feed him exclusively raw foods, as opposed to processed, packaged food and also to stick to organic foods, and to give him a food ingredient called kefir - a fermented milk known to have potential benefits for gut health. These three options were the only things that seemed to support his gut health, provide relief for his dermatitis and other symptoms.

The problem was that these foods all have a very short shelf life, lasting no more than a couple of days, and they all come at a significantly higher cost. As much as we love Lucky, this was not very practical, affordable or convenient for us to keep up on a regular basis.

This led to a lightbulb moment for me. My career was in the tech industry, having worked for IBM previously and I am firmly of the belief that technology can transform lives; so I thought, how can I harness some of these skills to try to develop a solution myself, for the gap that I had identified in the Australian pet industry, through my own real-life experience with no way to address Lucky’s poor digestive health?

I wondered how many other Australians had experienced this with their own pets.

Research and education were key

I started to notice among all the pet health products in the Australian market, that most cat and dog treats and food are meat-based and do not address specific health needs of pets. So, I started to do some research and educate myself about the best processes for keeping raw ingredients fresh through the freeze-drying process. After extensive research and consultation and eventually a partnership with some reputable veterinary surgeons, laboratory scientists and animal nutritionists, my new pet health formulation, Wonderfur was born.

The cat and dog supplement is the first-of-its kind, evidence-based, patented freeze-drying technology in Australian animal health, sourced with only Australian farm-fresh ingredients and prepared in TGA-approved facilities.

One of our partners in the development of Wonderfur Bites, Dr Linda Simon is a veterinarian, and a member of the British Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. She consulted and supported me on the journey. Linda says the end result is that Wonderfur Bites is a pet health supplement of an unusually high quality, and dogs and cats also enjoy the taste.

Wonderfur Bites dog and cat supplements are made from all human grade ingredients. They contain green lipped muscles that help with joint pain and inflammation as well as lactose-free yogurts to support a healthy gastrointestinal system.

I love how these treats are freeze-dried; preserving the active compounds and ensuring the ingredients retain their natural potency. The colostrum, lactose-free kefir and inulin in these bites all work together to bolster the immune system and improve the body’s natural defences. Over time, this can lead to a smaller chance of getting sick and an improved ability to fight off any infection your dog or cat may face,” Dr Simon says.

Other key active ingredients in Wonderfur Bites which comes as a convenient cube-shaped supplement, that can be used as a food topper or treat/reward, include zinc, turmeric, which provides inflammatory and skin support and goji berry for immune health, eye, and skin health.

Booming pet healthcare market

I think this pet health solution is set to really take off in the Australian market, especially as a recent Animal Medicines Australia report revealed that from 2020 to 2022, pet ownership reached new heights in Australia as new owners took advantage of the opportunity afforded by flexible work from requirements imposed by the COVID pandemic. The report also found that 20% of Australians feed their pets expensive, premium/human food and $2.9 billion a year is spent on pet healthcare products.

I believe Wonderfur Bites pet supplement will help address the hidden problem of digestive health in Australian cats and dogs and that it leads to many more pets across Australia feeling much healthier and happier, with better gut health.

Wonderfur Bites are available to purchase in Australia online at wonderfur.com.au and depending on how it performs here, I have even bigger plans to roll the brand out globally.

RRP: $29.99 for packet of 25 cat or dog single serve packs. NET 50g



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