Who needs human companionship when we have pets? They’re loyal, always happy to see you and won’t divorce you and take half your stuff.

According to the RSPCA, Australia is home to 24 million domestic animals. Dogs were present in 38 per cent of homes and cats took up 29 per cent. Overall 62 per cent of households have some domestic animal.

This is why the pet care and animal health market in Australia and the world is booming. According to CannPal Animal Therapeutics (ASX:CP1) founder Lleyton Mills it’s a $US125 billion ($183.3 billion) market. Specifically, animal health was $US34 billion.

“As a result of us treating them [pets] better they’re living longer,” he told the Pitt Street Life Sciences conference in Sydney last week.

Small caps directly involved with animal health and vets have on average gained 57 per cent in 12 months.

Code Name Price Market Cap 1 Year % Return
1ST 1ST GROUP LTD 0.076 $25.6M 192
PAA PHARMAUST LTD 0.1 $30.2M 190
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CannPal is one biotech targeting animal health – currently testing two pharmaceutical candidates. The first, CPAT-01, is based on cannabis plant ingredients and is targeting osteoarthritis in dogs. It successfully completed a phase 1 trial and is currently undergoing phase 2a and 2b trials.

And it is not the only company producing anti-inflammation treatments. Boehringer Ingelheim has a product called Metacam, while Zoetis has one called Rymadil. CannPal says the difference (beyond being cannabis derived) is its product is suitable for the longer term and is orally administered.

Pic: CannPal

The second product in the pipeline is DermaCann which promotes skin health. It is currently undergoing safety and efficacy studies.

Another company Stockhead heard from at last week’s Pitt Street Research life sciences conference was Antara Lifesciences (ASX:ANR), which has both human and animal health products designed to control gut health.

On the animal side, Anatara’s Detatch drug is designed to control scour (diarrhoea) in pigs. Last year the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) registered Detach for use in piglets in Australia, with the approved label.

PharmAust (ASX:PAA), meanwhile, is targeting cancer in dogs (as well as humans). It is currently recruiting for clinical trials having overcome issues it had last year about the taste of its pills.

Need a vet? These stocks can help

Three other ASX small caps are in the vet business.

National Veterinary Care (ASX:NVL), which has practices across Australia and New Zealand, made $117m in revenue and an $8.9m profit after tax in FY19.

Bendigo-headquartered Apiam Animal Health (ASX:AHX) offers vet services as well as technological solutions for livestock. Last financial year it booked $111.7m in revenue and an after-tax profit of $4m.

1st Group (ASX:1ST) is better known for its human appointment-booking software. But earlier this year it launched a vet-booking platform – PetYeti. It says 8.5 million appointments have been booked through the platform.

Its clients include its peer National Veterinary Care and Greencross, which was previously listed until it was acquired.

Read More:

Pot for pets – yes, it’s a thing. But best not to think of it as ‘pot’

Dr Boreham’s Crucible: PharmAust wants a piece of the +$US10.2b pet drug market

LISTEN TO: The Health Kick Podcast with Tim Boreham: Anatara Lifesciences