Sep
2
2009
A recent outbreak of canine influenza in Virginia has brought the virus into the spotlight again. And with the swine flu in the news, and the human flu season coming on, veterinarians should be prepared to field questions about canine influenza to help clients differentiate among various forms of flu.

The canine influenza virus, H3N8, is highly contagious and spreads especially rapidly among dogs living in a confined space, such as a shelter or kennel. The virus was first identified in 2004 and is suspected to have originated as an equine virus, according to Colorado State University assistant professor of small animal medicine Kathy Lunn, BVMS, PhD, DACVIM. ...more
Aug
19
2009
A recent bill brought before the U.S. House of Representatives could pave the way to making veterinary care more affordable to everyone. One legal expert says that the bill is also a step in the right direction toward a proper designation of companion animals in the eyes of the law.

The Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years (HAPPY) Act was introduced to the House on July 31 by Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.)

The bill proposes to amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow up to a $3,500 tax deduction for qualified pet health care expenses for qualified pets. According to the bill, “qualified pet care expenses” means money paid for the care of the pet, not including its purchase, and a “qualified pet” is defined as “a legally owned, domesticated, live animal.” ...more
Aug
19
2009
Two recent court cases have brought a longstanding debate back into the spotlight: How much is a companion animal worth?

Both cases involve plaintiffs who are seeking non-economic damages for the deaths of their pets. In both cases, the state laws say that pets are property. In one case, a woman sued her veterinarian for distress and loss of companionship. In another case yet to be decided, a man is suing another private citizen for damages resulting from the death of his dog. ...more
Aug
5
2009
A room used to perform annual inspections of pharmaceutical products for visual signs of deterioration was so dark that federal investigators had to use flashlights to inspect the drugs. Samples of Thiamine Hydrochloride, Lidocaine Hydrochloride, and Phenylbutazone were found by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspectors to contain particles, because the drug company employees originally charged with the inspections had no training.

Missouri-based veterinary drug company Teva Animal Health Inc., has been shut down by the federal government due to these and other alleged “significant” violations of current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP), according to legal documents obtained by NEWStat.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said in an announcement that it has filed a consent decree of permanent injunction against Teva Animal Health Inc. The injunction prevents Teva Animal Health, its president, and two principals from its parent company from manufacturing and distributing adulterated veterinary drugs, the FDA said.

According to the agency, three separate FDA inspections between 2007 and 2009 “found significant cGMP violations at Teva Animal Healths facilities, located in St. Joseph, Mo.” The violations are detailed in the lawsuit and an observation report, copies of which were obtained by NEWStat. ...more
Aug
5
2009
A planned drug company buyout will open the door for the creation of a massive animal-pharmaceuticals joint venture in the near future.

French drug-maker sanofi-aventis agreed last week to purchase 50 percent of Merial Limited for $4 billion in cash from Merck and Co., Inc. The deal would make sanofi-aventis the sole owner of Merial, which until now has been a 50-50 joint venture between Merck and sanofi-aventis. Merial’s best-known products include flea and tick control product Frontline and dog heartworm preventative Heartgard.

According to one analyst, veterinarians will most likely not see much change in terms of products or service, though the high price of the deal could potentially affect spending on research and development. ...more
Jul
22
2009
Everyone has heard of Ace Ventura. But real pet detectives do exist, although there are only a handful operating in the United States. Well-trained pet detectives and their four-legged partners can literally sniff out a lost pet, sometimes in a matter of hours.

At the annual conference of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) in Seattle last week, two pet detectives gave a series of presentations on what they do and how they do it.

Annalisa Berns and Landa Coldiron are certified Missing Animal Response (MAR) Technicians. The two women own their own companies, Pet Search and Rescue and Lost Pet Detection respectively. Berns and Coldiron use a variety of methods to track and search for lost pets, but their most important tools are their dogs. ...more
Jul
22
2009
The American Veterinary Medical Association held its 146th annual convention in Seattle from July 11-14. The following are a few briefs on some of the topics covered at the conference.

Connecting with clients

“’Have a nice day’ is over,” says Karyn Gavzer, MBA, CVPM. “The standard has floated up.”

Veterinarians and staff should strive for a high level of customer service, and doing so requires tapping into and empathizing with the emotional needs of your clients, Gavzer said. A genuine, personal relationship with your clients is one of the best ways to connect with them and keep them coming back. That includes building trust and rapport with clients by giving them personalized recommendations and being authentic with them.

“If you fail in being empathetic, you will never reach your full potential,” she said. ...more
Jul
8
2009
Navigation and spatial cognition in mammals is thought to be related to the hippocampus, which helps animals form a spatial map. But reptiles lack this seahorse-shaped brain structure, so how do they navigate?

A tortoise will actually use different methods of navigation depending on the presence or absence of visual cues in its environment, according to a new study. The study, “Visual and response-based navigation in the tortoise (Geochelone carbonaria),” was designed to investigate whether the reptilian medial cortex plays a similar role to the mammalian hippocampus in navigation and spatial cognition.

For the study, a red-footed tortoise was placed in an eight-armed radial maze, with food at the end of each arm. In the first part of the experiment, a black curtain was placed around the maze to obstruct the tortoise’s view of the room. Four large geometrical shapes of different colors were placed on the curtain to act as visual cues. Lead researcher Anna Wilkinson of the Department of Neurobiology and Cognition, University of Vienna, said the tortoise, Moses, appeared not to use these cues, and instead adopted an interesting navigational method, called the “turn-by-one-arm strategy.” ...more
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