Updated: Apr 26
Cancer is a devastating disease, but it’s also widespread in dogs; 25% of dogs will be diagnosed with cancer at some period during their lives, and 50% of dogs over the age of 10 develop some version of the disease.
What makes cancer so difficult to handle is that it’s not just one disease; it’s an entire group of diseases. A wide range of different cancers exists, with varying treatment options, different prognoses, and various complications. Some dogs respond differently to the same treatment for the same type of cancer, as well, and that’s even within the same breeds, let alone across breeds.
All of this means that, until recently, there was a lot of mystery and uncertainty in treating canine cancers. Chemotherapy, steroid treatments, occasional surgery, and some radiation were the tools available, but they didn’t always work or work well, and it was impossible to say why or predict what might happen beyond using statistics of past treatments on similar cases.
Luckily, modern science has been advancing along many different axes, including being able to analyze, sequence, and catalog the genetic code of people and animals.
Along with other advances in biotechnology, many new avenues for potential analysis and treatment are opening up.
Enter FidoCure and Vidium.
These are two companies providing similar services, using cutting-edge biotech developments to help improve outcomes and develop customized, more effective treatments for individual dogs with cancer. Both companies are commonly used by veterinary oncologists across the country.
So, what do these companies offer, and is one better than the other? Let’s dig in and learn more.
All About FidoCure
FidoCure is a service offered by a company called One Health Company, which was founded just a few years ago by two people with experience in the suffering cancer causes in pets and in humans. They noted that cancer treatment in dogs lagged behind human treatments by about 20 years and decided to try to push the envelope further by using modern techniques outside of the human treatment plans. They have picked up a number of trained vets, veterinary oncologists, and other specialists on their staff and now boast an impressive roster.
The service FidoCure offers is not directly available to pet parents; instead, it’s a consultant firm for vets. As a vet, you likely encounter many pet patients that are diagnosed with cancer, but you probably don’t have advanced knowledge of canine cancer care. That’s fine! It’s the difference between being a generalist and a specialist. Vets are front-line treatment providers, and referring to the expertise of specialists is a vital part of running a successful practice.
When a dog is diagnosed with cancer, the vet will work to identify cancer and offer a treatment plan.
There are a lot of different options for this, like the CHOP protocol.
The trouble with solutions like this is that they’re very rote, by-the-numbers, one-size-fits-all solutions. They’re engineered to be as effective as possible and somewhat flexible within their bounds, but they’re still single solutions to vastly complex problems.
Enter FidoCure. A vet that contracts with FidoCure could reach out with a sample (a biopsy, usually) of cancer or a whole tumor if surgery extracted it. FidoCure will then sequence the genome of cancer and identify specifics about it, including what cells are going rampant, how they’re mutated from normal cells, and more. All of this, combined with contextual information like the growth rate of cancer, the breed and age of the dog, and more, allows FidoCure to create a narrow, defined treatment plan.
FidoCure then provides this information back to the vet, who presents it to the pet parent as an option.
A set of targeted treatments aimed at the specific mutations and cells of cancer will be more effective and lead to fewer side effects than a full multi-drug treatment spectrum like chemotherapy.
All About Vidium
Vidium is a company providing basically the same services as FidoCure, operating on the same premise.
The idea is that by sequencing the genetics of cancer and identifying the specific mechanisms it uses to spread, targeted treatments can provide better outcomes for pet cancers.
Vidium’s service, SearchlightDNA, is provided by TGen, the Translational Genomics Research Institute.
Like FidoCure, Vidium has an impressive roster of pet genomics and veterinary science experts on staff, and their partnership with TGen allows them to provide detailed service.
In addition to genome sequencing, Vidium offers pathology consultations handled by a team of experts in canine cancers. This service, like genomic sequencing, requires a tissue sample of cancer, but one sample can be used for both services simultaneously.
How Do FidoCure and Vidium Differ?
Both of these companies are relatively new, staffed by experts, and offer genomic sequencing to accurately diagnose and provide targeted treatment plans for canine cancers.
So, what’s the difference between the two?
Honestly, there’s relatively little difference, but the few differences that do exist might be significant to some vets and pet parents.
First, FidoCure does not offer a complete pathology report the way Vidium does. Pathology would need to be provided by a pathologist or pathology service. This isn’t necessarily a drawback; if your veterinary practice has a pathologist on staff (or on call), you don’t need to get that pathology through the genomics provider. Some pathology services like Zoetis have a broad spectrum of pathology services and can work with many types of animals. Others are more specialized, like SOP For Animals focusing on oral pathology, and Specialty Vet Path (formerly Insight Vetinary Pathology) focusing for ocular pathology.
Secondly, each service provides genomics through a different source. Vidium uses TGen, while FidoCure uses its own in-house system. As far as we’re aware, both are valid and accurate, so this shouldn’t be a cause for concern.
Third, and this is a big one: FidoCure offers a lifetime price for the drugs they recommend, locking it in at the time of the service contract. You, as the vet and the pet parent, will know, up-front, how much the particular treatment plan (at least in terms of the relevant drugs) is going to cost.
As a vet, you need to accurately bill your clients and be transparent and predictable with your costs. Since a high cost is one of the biggest roadblocks to the effective treatment of canine cancers, this is a significant factor for your clients to consider.
Vidium does not offer similar lock-in pricing or services. They recommend drugs to treat specific cancer mutations, but they don’t synthesize the drugs themselves or with a partnership pharmacy; they leave it to the vet to source them.
Vidium can conduct genetic analysis on cytology samples, provided there is a sufficient amount of material. It is worth noting that cytology differs from a biopsy. In cytology, a fine needle aspirate is used to collect a small sample from the tumor, often without the need for sedation or anesthesia. On the other hand, a biopsy involves obtaining a more significant portion, or even the entire tumor, which typically necessitates anesthesia.
While this does allow you as a vet to source drugs from more flexible providers, it increases your workload and might not be as efficient or predictable as what FidoCure offers.
Are There Side Effects to Using These Services?
There’s pretty much no such thing as a cancer treatment that doesn’t have side effects. Cancer is a very difficult disease to treat because, unlike infections and other ailments, it’s not an outside invader infecting a dog’s body. It’s the dog’s own cells running wild, replicating without obeying the usual biological commands to stop.
Common treatments for cancer include:
Steroids to boost the natural bodily response to fight off or suppress cancer from growing. Unfortunately, this is not very effective on its own, though steroids can enhance other treatments when timed appropriately.
Surgery. In some forms of cancer, surgical removal can be all you need. The trouble with cancer is that if any single cancer cell is left in place, cancer can come back from it, and it’s obviously impossible to check every cell in a dog’s body for evidence of spread. It’s also invasive and can be risky for older dogs.
Anti-Angiogenic Chemo. Cancer is body cells, and that means it needs blood to survive. This kind of chemo is relatively “light” on the body because all it does is stop the body from building new blood vessels (which cancer needs to feed itself.) It’s systemic and generally untargeted, however, and can hamper things like wound healing.
Cytotoxic Chemo. This is your more “traditional” chemotherapy, where specific drugs or a cocktail of drugs are used to target specific forms of cancer and kill them off. The doses and schedules used in dogs are typically lower and less intense than those used in humans, which can help to minimize some of the side effects. While chemotherapy can be hard on the body, dogs generally tolerate the treatment better than humans do.
The benefit of using a service like Vidium or FidoCure is that they allow you to go from a whole list of broad-spectrum drugs to a smaller, more targeted list of specific drugs.
Fewer drugs mean less risk of side effects, the ability to leave out the harsher drugs if they aren’t necessary, and the potential to stack specific drugs to provide synergistic effects.
That’s not to say that they’re free from side effects, though. Any treatment designed to kill off cells is going to have side effects. When using targeted therapies, side effects are rare, but when observed, lethargy and decreased appetite are the most common side effects that we see.
It’s just that the side effect list for a three-drug regimen is smaller than the list from a five-drug regimen.
In terms of the actual service – genomic sequencing and recommendations – there are no more side effects than there ever are for a biopsy or aspiration. Since all you’re doing is taking a sample of the cancer cells and sending it to their labs, it’s not going to impact the health or function of the pooch involved any more than any other tissue sample would.
Which Service is Better: FidoCure or Vidium?
Truthfully, this is an impossible question to answer. Both companies provide a similar service and help with both genomic sequencing and drug recommendations, so in broad strokes, they two are very similar services.
As a vet, if you’re choosing which company to use for your consulting, you have to weigh the pros and cons.
FidoCure’s locked-in pricing can be a benefit to many patients who need a more predictable and “known quantity” price for their bill. You’ll be adding on your own service fees, but those can be negotiable, and you can strive to provide the best option financially for your patients. On the other hand, if Vidium’s flexibility gives you a better option for pharmacies you work with, it could be the better choice.
Additional pathology services from Vidium can be very useful. It’s one thing to be handed a genomic sequence, even if that sequence has flags for the different mutations and what they mean, and quite another to have an expert tell you what it all means and how to develop a treatment plan. That said, you can always use another service for pathology. Most veterinarians rely on major companies such as Antech, Idexx, and Zoetis for their pathology services, which play a crucial role in reading and analyzing biopsies.
Both services prefer to work directly with vets rather than with patients individually. You will likely be the go-between for any questions your patients may have. Vidium is a bit more responsive to individual pet parent questions than FidoCure, but as a vet, you can pick either option.
Regardless of which you choose, being able to provide cheaper, more targeted treatment options with fewer side effects than traditional broad-spectrum chemotherapy can be a huge boon to your patients. You’re no longer limited to a handful of specific drugs or pred.
What About Non-Cancer Problems?
Dogs can have all sorts of things go wrong, not just cancer. Consulting with a company like Vidium or FidoCure can be a great option if you’re dealing with cancer, but they only deal with canine cancers.
What happens if you need an expert in internal medicine, neurology, dermatology, or a tricky emergency situation? These companies aren’t your best bet. Their turnaround time is slow (around 3-5 weeks on average), and they’re limited in scope.
Instead, you can consult with us. At Hope Vet Specialty Services, we provide on-call consulting for a wide range of problems, including those listed above and tricky emergency situations. You can’t be an expert in everything, but you can keep the experts on tap.
Our team is here to assist you in understanding reports from either Vidium or FidoCure. We can guide you in integrating targeted therapy with conventional treatments, dietary adjustments, nutraceuticals, or immunotherapy. Our consultation services truly shine here – we can create a personalized plan for each patient. The FidoCure and Vidium reports may suggest multiple drugs – but which one should you select? Alternatively, they might not identify any targetable mutations, leaving you without drug recommendations – so what's the next step? That's where our expertise becomes invaluable.
For our expert advice, all you need to do is drop us a line. We’ll have a response ready for you within 72 hours, with comprehensive guidance for internal medicine, cancer treatment, neurology, dermatology, or just about anything else you need!