Notebook: January 2022

News briefs from across the industry and beyond. This month includes articles about: Veterinary Cannabis Society; Dog nose prints; Three vets help injured eagle; Basepaws seeks partners; Genius Dog Challenge; CDC, USDA work on outbreak forecast system; Researchers developing genetic test for dangerous drug reactions; Pet store puppies; Generic antimicrobial approved by FDA; AVMA state of the profession report

AVMA Report Informs Competitive Business Strategy and Career Decisions

AVMA.pngThe American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recently released its 2022 State of the Profession report, available at no cost to AVMA members. The report breaks down AVMA’s most recent
economic research into actionable takeaways along with information on business efficiency and productivity, salaries, team wellbeing, and more.

It looks at average starting salaries for new veterinarians who graduated in 2020 from a comparative standpoint. Among the findings:

  • Private-practice veterinarians had an average starting salary of $92,704, compared with $76,117 in public practice.
  • Starting salaries for new graduates pursuing internships averaged $36,433.
  • Within private practice, companion-animal exclusive veterinarians claimed the highest average starting salary, at $96,824. The lowest was for veterinarians entering equine practice, at $58,621.

The report sells for $125 in the AVMA store, but all AVMA and SAVMA members can download it free of charge as a benefit of membership. For more information, visit avma.org..


Dog Nose Prints Are Distinctive

nose.pngA team of Korean investigators headed by Hyeong In Choi of Seoul National University investigated whether a dog’s nose print is distinctive enough to allow the identification of individual dogs. The study was published in the journal Animals

In an effort to determine if nose prints are a viable means to identify dogs, the researchers asked two questions: if the canine nose pattern is properly formed by two months of age and if this nose pattern remains unchanged throughout the first year of the dog’s life. They report that the findings were clear. By two months of age, the nose print pattern was established, and monthly testing over the first year of their life showed no changes in the pattern. Investigators also concluded that a computer program could be used to identify nose prints.”

QUOTE OF THE MONTH

“Everything depends on our ability to sustainably inhabit this earth, and true sustainability will require us  all to change our way of thinking on how we take from the earth and how we give back.”

—Deb Haaland, 54th US Secretary of the Interior, first Native American to serve as Cabinet secretary


Researchers Identify Gene Linked to Dangerous Drug Reactions


Scientists at Washington State University’s (WSU) College of Veterinary Medicine discovered a genetic mutation in greyhounds and, more recently, in other common dog
breeds that hinders the breakdown of some drugs. The research group published its findings in Scientific Reports.

The researchers stated that veterinarians have known that some greyhounds struggle to break down certain drugs, which results in potentially life-threatening and prolonged recovery periods following anesthesia. The previously unknown genetic mutation that the WSU researchers uncovered in greyhounds causes less CYP2B11, the enzyme that breaks down these drugs, to be made. The mutation was also found in several other dog breeds that are closely related to the greyhound including borzoi, Italian greyhound, whippet, and Scottish deerhound.

When the research team extended their survey to more than 60 other breeds using donated samples from the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital DNA Bank, they were surprised by what they found. According to the study, some popular dog breeds, including golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers, may also struggle to break down the commonly used anesthetics midazolam, ketamine, and propofol.

“We started with a condition we thought was specific to greyhounds and affected a relatively small number of dogs,” said Stephanie Martinez, postdoctoral research associate and lead author on the study. “It now appears that there could be a lot more dogs affected by this mutation—dogs from breeds that we wouldn’t have expected.


Genius Dog Challenge Finds Gifted Canines

A team of Hungarian researchers has released a study indicating that some dogs may possess a remarkable grasp of the human language. The group spent two years locating dogs who could recognize the names of their various toys.

They stated that although most can learn commands to some degree, learning the names of items appears to be a very different task, and most dogs are unable to master this skill. Their research found six dogs—Max, Hungary; Gaia, Brazil; Nalani, Netherlands; Squall, US; Whisky, Norway; and Rico, Spain—who each knew the names of more than 28 toys,  with some knowing more than 100. The animals then took part in a series of livestreamed experiments known as the Genius Dog Challenge where they tried to learn and remember the names of new toys.

“These gifted dogs can learn new names of toys at a remarkable speed,” said Claudia Fugazza at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, who led the research team. The dogs could also remember the names of the toys when they were tested months later.

“It turned out that, for these talented dogs, this was not much of a challenge. They easily  learned between 11 to 12 toys,” said researcher Shany Dror from the same university. She stated that this rate of learning is comparable to that of human infants at the beginning of their vocabulary spurt, when they suddenly start stringing words together at about 18 months old. All of the dogs taking part were border collies, although Dror stated that that the group has also found dogs from other breeds including a German shepherd, a Pekingese, a mini Australian shepherd, and a few dogs of mixed breeds.

The research was published in Royal Society Open Science.


New Veterinary Cannabis Society Offers Education and  Advocacy


cannabis.pngThe newly formed Veterinary Cannabis Society (VCS, veterinarycannabissociety.org) has a stated mission of creating lasting solutions that ensure the safe use of cannabis for pets through education, advocacy, and promoting product standards.

On its website, the organization’s founders stated that they believe that medicinal cannabis is an important, newly emerging discipline of veterinary medicine. They go on to say that to promote this industry, they believe it is essential to remove stigma and actively advocate for legislative changes to improve access for patients. As such, the VCS states that they intend to provide up-to-date, accurate education for veterinary professionals, pet owners, and cannabis producers as well as advocate for legislative and regulatory changes and create a system of product quality standards.

 

 

Basepaws Seeks Partnerships with Veterinary Hospitals

dna.pngBasepaws reports that it is in the process of developing a unique category of screening tools that will combine genomic, microbiome, and health history data to identify preclinical indicators associated with health-related outcomes. They say that by targeting the prediction of disease and risk of negative outcomes, the company aims to provide veterinarians with advanced treatment options that will elevate the standard of patient care.

In a company release, Basepaws stated that it is generating the world’s largest feline genomics database by performing whole genome sequencing on thousands of pedigree and mix-breed cats across the globe. This database is a consistently augmented resource that allows professionals to identify novel genetic variants associated with a variety of feline breeds, physical traits, and diseases.

Currently, the company is seeking participants for clinical studies involving divergent areas of unmet needs in feline health. Basepaws is asking for oral swab samples and clinical  records from felines “matching certain exclusion and inclusion criteria.” The company is also looking to collaborate with veterinary practices and hospitals to recruit samples matching strict clinical criteria. Interested parties can email [email protected].


 CDC, USDA Work Toward Robust Surveillance Programs

The AVMA reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) unveiled plans for a new outbreak analysis and forecast hub for anticipating infectious disease  threats and helping deal with them in real time. They also report that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it is dedicating $300 million in American Rescue Plan funding to conduct surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 and other emerging and zoonotic diseases in susceptible animals and build an early warning system.

The CDC Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics, expected to be operational in 2022, is intended to improve the federal government’s ability to forecast and model emerging threats, expand data-sharing capabilities, and communicate quickly with key public health decisionmakers to quickly respond to an infectious disease outbreak.

“This is an amazing opportunity for CDC and public health as we stand up the country’s first government-wide public health forecasting center,” said CDC Director Rochelle P. 
Walensky, MD, in a release. At the USDA, American Rescue Plan funding will help build an early warning system to alert public health partners to potential threats so they can act quickly to prevent or limit another pandemic. Establishing an early warning system that will help protect both people and animals from future disease threats will require a multiyear effort, the USDA said in a release.

The USDA will build on its existing infrastructure to implement a risk-based, comprehensive, integrated disease monitoring and surveillance system domestically and to enhance collaborations with national, regional, and global partners to build additional capacity for zoonotic disease surveillance and prevention using a one-health approach.

“We are pleased that the USDA is moving forward with a one-health approach to surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 and other emerging zoonotic diseases,” said Dr. José Arce, AVMA president. “The AVMA fully supported the $300 million for monitoring and surveillance in the American Rescue Plan and looks forward to providing input on the Strategic Plan that the USDA announced.”


 

Generic Antimicrobial Approved by FDA 

FDA.pngFederal drug officials approved a generic version of an antimicrobial used to treat infections in cats and dogs. On August 18, 2022, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials approved a generic version of Zoetis’ Clavamox, which contains amoxicillin and clavulanate potassium for oral suspension. Cronus Pharma Specialties India Private Ltd. received the approval for the generic version.

The drug is used to treat skin, soft tissue, and periodontal bacterial infections in dogs as well as skin, soft tissue, and urinary tract bacterial 
infections in cats, FDA information states. Amoxicillin trihydrate kills a variety of bacteria, and clavulanic acid broadens the drug’s activity by inhibiting beta-lactamase enzymes that can destroy the amoxicillin, agency information states.

Photo credits: Amy Newton-McConnel/iStock via Getty Images; Photos courtesy of SPCA Serving Erie County, Photos courtesy of Terry Belke; Photographer/collection via Getty Images; PurpurDevries/iStock via Getty Images; vatrushka67/iStock via Getty Images; sorbetto/DigitalVision Vectors via Getty Images

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