The Scoop

AAHA president Mark Thompson, DVM, CCRP, talks about the importance of end-of-life care in ensuring a dignified and compassionate departure for our beloved animal companions. The AAHA Community debates the pros and cons of using AI. This month’s Scoop headlines include: Retrievers have a gene mutation that may cause excess hunger; State of the workplace health report; WSU veterinarians receive awards for teaching and research, and more!

Providing Compassionate End-of-Life Care in Veterinary Medicine: My Perspective

As veterinary professionals, we all understand the importance of end-of-life care in ensuring a dignified and compassionate departure for our beloved animal companions.

When faced with a terminally ill or suffering pet, pet owners often struggle with the difficult decision of when to let go. End-of-life care is crucial in providing comfort, managing pain, and maintaining quality of life for pets during their final stages. As veterinarians, we play a pivotal role in guiding pet owners through this emotional process, helping them make informed decisions, and ensuring a peaceful farewell for their pets, many of whom are considered family.

In veterinary medicine, we offer a range of options for end-of-life care, tailored to the pet’s condition and the owner’s preferences. Palliative care involves providing pain management, symptom relief, and supportive treatments to enhance the pet’s comfort. Additionally, some veterinary clinics offer dedicated hospice care, providing a compassionate environment and continuous support for pets in their final days.

And now, some practices can even pursue accreditation in AAHA’s new End-of-Life-Care Accreditation Program. This accreditation type is open to AAHA-accredited traditional practices with a dedicated department committed to providing end-of-life care services, or a practice solely dedicated to providing end-of-life care services.

Veterinarians have a profound impact on end-of-life care. We act as compassionate guides for pet owners during this emotional journey, offering expert advice on available options and their potential outcomes. Our priority is to ensure that the euthanasia process is conducted in a respectful, pain-free manner, prioritizing the pet’s comfort and dignity. Beyond the medical aspect, we provide empathetic support to pet owners, addressing their concerns and helping them cope with grief.

Recognizing the deep bond between pets and their owners, we extend our support beyond the pet’s passing. We offer resources for coping with grief, such as pet loss support groups, counseling services, and memorial options. By acknowledging the emotional impact and providing resources, we contribute to the healing process for grieving owners.

From my perspective as a veterinary professional, end-of-life care is a crucial aspect of ensuring a compassionate and dignified farewell for our animal companions. Through expert guidance, various care options, and emotional support, the entire practice team can help pet owners make informed decisions while prioritizing the pet’s comfort and preserving the special bond they shared.

Mark Thompson, DVM, CCRP
Mark Thompson, DVM, CCRP, is president of AAHA. He owns Country Hills Pet Hospital in Eden, Wisconsin.


A map of the United States showing states with higher heartworm disease rates. Delaware, Montana, and Nevada 3 states with the highest rates.

Banfield Survey Shows Lagging Heartworm Prevention

Banfield Pet Hospital released a survey that indicates that many US pet owners don’t provide heartworm prevention medication, although disease-transmitting mosquitoes exist in all 50 states. Banfield reports that, according to the American Heartworm Society, more than a million pets in the US have heartworm, and cases are on the rise. Banfield’s veterinary professionals have seen a 47% increase in feline heartworm disease cases over the past five years.

Banfield reports that despite the growing prevalence, the survey findings reveal that nearly 40% of dog and cat owners don’t believe their pet is at risk of getting heartworms and nearly 30% said their pet is not on heartworm prevention. Further, 21% of pet owners don’t believe the mosquitos in their state carry the parasite, despite heartworm cases being diagnosed in all 50 states.

“Research has shown rates of heartworm in pets have continued to trend upward nationwide, despite prevention being generally safer, easier and less expensive than treating an existing infection,” said Alea Harrison, DVM, chief medical officer of Banfield Pet Hospital.

Photo credits: Oleksandr Melnyk/iStock via Getty Images Plus, ©AAHA/Alison Silverman


A hungry yellow lab salivates as he eats kibble

Study: Retriever Mutation Makes Them Hungrier

A study published in the journal Science Advances reports that a genetic mutation may be the cause of the excessive hunger that Labrador retrievers and flat-coated retrievers are known for. The study found that 1 in 4 Labrador retrievers and 2 in 3 flat-coated retrievers have the genetic mutation. They state that this excessive hunger could also contribute to the breeds’ rising obesity levels.

Speaking to Scientific American, Eleanor Raffan, RCVS, PhD, a veterinarian and geneticist at the University of Cambridge and a co-author of the paper said, “What we see in the dogs is that they’re getting this molecular starvation signal. As a result, they try to eat more and dial down their energy expenditure.”

The study relates that this greater wanting/hunger is likely to explain the increased food seeking behavior in the home environment that they previously reported in affected dogs.

They say that to maintain a healthy body weight, owners of affected dogs must restrict food intake to below that which would maintain a healthy body weight in wild-type (natural, nonmutated gene) dogs because of their lower energy expenditure. They acknowledge that this is challenging in these highly food-motivated dogs, but report that many slim, affected dogs in the cohort attest to the fact it is possible to achieve.

Photo credit: Chalabala/iStock via Getty Images Plus


Banner for AAHA Community


Our practice is considering investing in AI to reduce screen time for our doctors and increase efficiency. Does anyone have experience with any AI programs and can you speak to the benefits/disadvantages?

A: We use ScribbleVet at my hospital, which has been a game changer. As a doctor, I’m significantly more efficient and when I feel overwhelmed I remember that my notes are being written in the cloud and that actually allows me to see more patients.

A: We are using Scribenote, and I could never go back again. I didn’t realize how much mental load had been filling my short-term memory and holding that information was taking up a lot. My stress levels are significantly reduced.

Share your professional AI suggestions with the Community at For help, email [email protected].


A pet owner using eye wipes to clean his dog's eyes.

Recall of Project Watson Eyelid Wipes

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued an alert about Bausch & Lomb’s “Project Watson” dog eye wipes, stating that pets and pet owners who come into contact could be at risk for infection if the products come from certain lots. The lots were sold online and in stores between February 2023 and March 2024.

“The company has received seven reports of a substance developing in the container after the product had been opened and in use,” the agency said, although so far, “no illness of consumers or pets has been reported.” The alert states, “When the recalled dog eyelid wipes are opened and in use, bacteria and fungi, which are organisms found widely in the environment, soil, and water, can be introduced and grow in the container, posing a risk of serious infection to people with weakened immune systems. Individuals with wounds may also be at higher risk of infection. People with healthy immune systems are not typically affected.”

Request a full refund by submitting a picture of the product at

Photo credit: miriam-doerr/iStock via Getty Images Plus


Dog-Related Injury Claim Payouts Hit $1.12 Billion in 2023

Janet Ruiz, director of strategic communications at the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) reported that, in 2023, the number of dog bite and related injury claims was 19,062, an increase of more than 8% from 2022 and a 110% increase over the past decade, with the total cost of claims at $1.12 billion. The average cost per claim decreased from $64,555 in 2022 to $58,545 in 2023. California, Florida, and Texas had the most claims. “Education and training for owners and pets is the key to keeping everyone safe and healthy,” said Ruiz.

The company marked the recent National Dog Bite Prevention Week in April to promote awareness and education for owners and pets. Triple-I reports that a coalition of veterinarians, animal behavior experts, and insurance representatives urged people to understand the risks dog bites pose to people and other pets, and suggested ways to prevent bites from happening.

“Dogs are not just pets; they are beloved members of our households, providing joy, companionship, and comfort in our lives,” said Rena Carlson, DVM, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). “While the reality is that any dog can bite, most such incidents are preventable. As we mark National Dog Bite Prevention Week, let’s commit to increasing our understanding of the issue and taking proactive steps towards prevention.”


An illustration representing poor mental health—a woman is covering her eyes with her hands while lightening and rain are around her head.

New State of the Workplace Health Report

Lyra Health recently announced the findings of its 2024 State of Workforce Mental Health report. The fourth annual study revealed that two-thirds of the US workforce experienced mental health stressors that negatively impacted their work performance in 2023, while 87% of US employees faced at least one mental health challenge in the past year.

The report analyzed responses from more than 3,400 employees across seven countries, along with input from 250 benefits leaders at organizations with global workforces.

The study reports that while organizations have made progress in promoting and supporting mental health care for mild and moderate issues such as stress and anxiety, there is also a rise in complex mental health conditions since 2021. The number of employees reporting thoughts of suicide has more than doubled during this period, while 11% of US employees said they experienced severe/chronic depression or anxiety, a more than 80% increase from 2021. One of the drivers of these increases is the delayed trauma response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Stress and anxiety are typically anticipated responses and directly attributable to the onset of large-scale events,” said Alethea Varra, senior vice president of clinical care, Lyra Health. “However, the full impact of delayed trauma after a global pandemic doesn’t always present immediately in its full intensity. It’s only later, often when the immediate threat has subsided, that the cumulative toll of sustained stress and uncertainty begins to manifest in more complex conditions like chronic depression, substance use disorder, and suicidal thoughts.”

The report states that the second most significant factor negatively impacting US workers’ mental health is work-related stress and burnout. Mental health also drives the potential for employee turnover, with 1 in 5 respondents sharing that they are considering leaving their company predominantly due to mental health challenges, such as stress, anxiety, burnout, and depression. Download the report at

Photo credit: fedrelena/iStock via Getty Images Plus


An illustration of 3 geese with Q and A speech bubbles above their heads.

WOAH Releases Feline Avian Flu Information

The World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) released an avian flu information sheet regarding cats, with a variety of Q&A topics. Questions cover topics including whether cats can catch avian influenza, how they catch it, symptoms, whether they can transmit it to humans, and precautions to take both to avoid exposure and for suspected cases.

Visit to download the PDF.

Photo credit: Toltemara/iStock via Getty Images Plus


Photos of Katrina Mealey, DVM, PhD, DACVCP, DACVIM (Left), and Rance Sellon, DVM, PhD, DACVIM (Right).
Katrina Mealey, DVM, PhD, DACVCP, DACVIM (Left), received the Faculty Achievement in Research Award from the American Association of Veterinary Clinicians. Rance Sellon, DVM, PhD, DACVIM (Right), received the Faculty Achievement in Teaching Award from the American Association of Veterinary Clinicians.

WSU Veterinarians Receive Awards for Teaching and Research

The American Association of Veterinary Clinicians (AAVC) recently awarded two Washington State University (WSU) veterinarians, Katrina Mealey, DVM, PhD, DACVCP, DACVIM, and Rance Sellon, DVM, PhD, DACVIM. Mealey was recognized with the Faculty Achievement in Research Award, and Sellon received the Faculty Achievement in Teaching Award. The awards are presented to AAVC members who have achieved national recognition through their efforts on behalf of veterinary medicine. Mealey and Sellon are both faculty members in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Veterinary Clinical Sciences department.

“Regents Professor Dr. Katrina Mealey and Dr. Rance Sellon are exceptionally deserving of these prestigious awards recognizing achievement in research and teaching,” said Dori Borjesson, DVM, PhD, MPVM, dean of the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine. “They are truly committed to advancing veterinary medicine through discovery and innovation and through teaching the next generation of veterinarians. Both are long-term, dedicated members of our college who exemplify the highest standards of excellence in our profession. We are truly proud of them both.”

The AAVC is an association of veterinary clinicians that focuses on teaching and research in veterinary sciences.

Photos courtesy of WSU


Closeup photo of a pile of green pills.

2024 ISFM/AAFP Consensus Guidelines on the Long-Term Use of NSAIDs in Cats

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) and International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) announced the release of new guidelines on the long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in cats.

The association states that the 2024 ISFM and AAFP Consensus Guidelines on the Long-term Use of NSAIDs in Cats supports practitioners with decision-making around prescribing NSAIDs in situations of chronic pain to minimize adverse effects and optimize pain management for their feline patients. The guidelines are available on the AAFP website at

Photo credit: Veronika Novikova/iStock via Getty Images Plus


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Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. Arthur Ashe


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