GREENSBORO — Worried that your dog might contract the COVID-19 coronavirus – and what pet owner isn’t these days? Or concerned that your meandering daily dog walks could result in close encounters of the human kind in this era of social distancing?

If so, here’s the poop on a product from Kepley BioSystems that may help you support that doggone social distancing.

The Greensboro-based biotechnology company recently launched its new K9 Strategic Scent Stimulant that – how can this be said delicately – encourages Fido to be a more-targeted pooper. That means more-controlled social distancing for both you and your dog, not to mention the time you save by not wandering aimlessly around the neighborhood waiting for the mood to strike your animal’s gastrointestinal tract.

If you’re not aware that dogs – like humans – are susceptible to COVID-19, they are. But there’s no evidence that pets play any significant role in spreading the virus.

Chapel Hill, home to some of the top coronavirus experts in the world, recorded the first confirmed case of canine COVID-19 in the United States in April. The unlucky victim – Winston – was at last report experiencing mild symptoms of the illness.

Since then, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued social distancing guidelines for pet owners – especially in public spaces. And that’s where Kepley BioSystems enters the picture.

‘A solution for the dawdling dog’

The company’s product – described as a “solution for the dawdling dog” – is a botanical mixture that duplicates the scent our canine pets want to sniff before defecating. A single drop applied to the paw focuses the animal’s attention and narrows its search for the prime bathroom spot.

Kepley said the natural organic and botanical molecules that settle on the ground and break down over time are the smells dogs instinctively recognize and seek out. K9 Strategic Scent replicates those odors, the ones that encourage your pets to relax and relieve themselves. As William Shakespeare would observe, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” The company says the product is safe and easy to use.

Kepley recently reduced the price of K9 Strategic Scent by 40 percent to support social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. The company said the product can “help many dogs walk more and wander less during their walks.” This is a plus because it limits exposure to other people, their pets and potentially contaminated spaces.

“We’ve lowered the price of Kepley K9 in response to the new normal,” Kepley President Anthony Dellinger, Ph.D., pointed out. “We hope it can facilitate social distancing and help make the most of everyone’s outdoor time with their dogs.” You can buy the product on Amazon.

A natural ‘now-now’ the pooch nose knows

The company said it developed K9 Strategic Scent Stimulant with busy pet owners in mind. That includes those of us who want to spend more quality time with our dogs, not darting from tree to bush and back again while our animals search for the elusive perfect place to relieve themselves.

Quick paws before a walk means less pause during the walk. Just a drop will … doo.
The product works because dogs are highly effective smellers. They have 50 times more olfactory receptors than humans and exceed our own sense of smell ten thousand fold, according to Kepley. So, while we might notice the teaspoon of sugar in our morning cup of coffee, a dog can smell that same amount of sweetener in a body of water equal to two Olympic-sized swimming pools.

The nose knows when it comes to dogs. And that led the Kepley team to embark on a study last year to see if its product could benefit shelter animals and kennel staffs.

Quick paws before a walk means less pause during the walk. Just a drop will … doo.

The idea was to shorten the period it takes dogs to “perform their daily routines” – which is a polite way of saying decrease defecation time – and to help train them in proper canine bathroom habits so they’re more likely to be adopted. Kennel employees also would save time because they weren’t dragged from pillar to post by animals that couldn’t make up their mines where they wanted to poop.

The company worked with the staff of the SPCA of the Triad in Greensboro. They found that K9 Strategic Scent cut routine morning kennel staff time by half, allowing more time for socialization. The study also suggests that better canine awareness of indoor and outdoor spaces can improve the success rate of shelter adoptions.

Other Kepley products

The company, founded in 2013, is involved in several other research projects of the non-canine variety. Included among them are:

  • An environmentally friendly synthetic bait that mimics the smell of decaying forage fish and can be used for lobster and crab fisheries.
  • Eco-friendly synthetic horseshoe crab eggs that can provide a nutritional supplement for migrating shorebirds.
  • And a protected estuary for Atlantic horseshoe crabs that provides a controlled environment where the crustaceans’ blood can be harvested for Limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL).  LAL is used to identify E. coli, salmonella and other dangerous endotoxins in humans.

Kepley BioSystems operates out of Gateway University Research Park in Greensboro in collaboration with the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering (JSNN). JSNN is a partnership between the North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University and the University of North Carolina Greensboro.

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center has provided two $3,000 Industrial Internship awards to Kepley, in 2017 and 2019, providing specialized expertise to help the company’s synthetic bait and horseshoe crab commercialization efforts.

The company’s mission is “to develop disruptive innovations to achieve global solutions.”

Kepley BioSystems selected to present at national small business showcase