Mella Pet Care, a Chicago-based startup, offers an ecosystem of interconnected devices for veterinary professionals and pet parents. The company created the world’s first accurate underarm thermometer for dogs and cats, said Chief of Staff Daniella Morgan-Pascualvaca, in an interview at WVC 2023 in Las Vegas.
Inspired by the challenges in seeing her rescue pup, Mella, respond poorly at the vet when getting a rectal temperature taken, the company’s CEO Anya Babbitt said in press materials that she wondered why there wasn’t a fear-free way of taking a pet’s temperature.
Morgan-Pascualvaca, who was an intern with Mella during the time she was pursuing her bachelor’s degree in biology and economics at the University of Chicago, said that the thermometer fits under the foreleg or hind leg of a cat or a dog. In 10 to 15 seconds, the device provides a temperature reading.
The current margin of error is plus or minus .3 degrees Fahrenheit when compared with a rectal thermometer reading. Mella has ongoing clinical trials with the University of Georgia and Cal Poly Pomona to continue to refine the device’s machine learning algorithm.
“It continues to get better, the more data that they gather and put into the algorithm, the smarter it becomes,” said Morgan-Pascualvaca. She added that research results will be presented at the Idexx Laboratories symposium in fall 2023.
There are two versions of the thermometer, including one for pet parents which retails at $59 on the company’s website. The veterinary professional version comes with three probes, including ear as well as rectal.
Mella has seven products in its lineup, including ones that are currently available — thermometers and the mobile app.
The Biggie Scale, which can be used to monitor pet obesity, and Tabby Tape Measure, which pairs with the scale and provides morphometric measurements, should be available by June 2023. In addition, the Mella team hopes to unveil the Charlie Chip Reader, a pulse oximeter and Mabel Smart Bowl Scale later in 2023.
The scale currently works for animals weighing up to 55 pounds. Morgan-Pascualvaca said the company is planning to make a bigger scale that can accommodate larger dog breeds.
Mella also offers Biggie Smalls, a camera that works with existing or other veterinary floor scales. The camera integrates with a veterinary professional’s practice management system.
All the company’s devices are paperless and interface with existing digital systems. The Mella app is available on the Apple app store and Google play. Veterinary professionals and pet parents may also use this platform on a desktop computer.
Morgan-Pascualvaca said that prior to joining Mella as a college intern, she wanted to be a veterinarian.
“Then I came to college and I wanted to be a veterinarian and also an entrepreneur in practice management work,” she said.
Mella was a great fit since the company was working from a business perspective in the animal health realm.
“I joined the Mella team and suddenly, I could reach a lot more pets doing this than if I had my own individual practice,” she said. “I love the reach, that we’re international, and we’ve had over 3,000 orders here in the U.S. I’m helping a lot of pets and we’re helping veterinarians and their teams see more pets with faster intake time.”
Morgan-Pascualvaca said that the company’s devices also empower pet parents at home so that they know when to go to the veterinarian or when it’s okay to wait it out.
“And for pets, we are creating devices that are not invasive, that don’t hurt and don’t make them uncomfortable,” she said.
Learn more about Mella’s products on the company’s website: https://www.mella.ai/shop