Notebook: May 2022

News briefs from across the industry and beyond. This month’s articles include:

  • AVMA Provides Workplace Wellbeing Certificate Program
  • Pet Ownership Can Boost Brain Power
  • Five Trends to Watch in Pet Care and Products

and more!

AVMA Provides Workplace Wellbeing Certificate Program

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reports that wellbeing within the workplace is key to individual and organizational productivity, engagement, satisfaction, and overall health. They state that the AVMA Workplace Wellbeing Certificate Program assists these efforts by empowering veterinarians and team members with the knowledge and skills to create a culture of wellbeing in their veterinary workplace.

The AVMA Workplace Wellbeing Certificate Program, available through AVMA’s digital education platform, provides multiple online modules that can be taken individually or completed as a unit, culminating in an AVMA Workplace Wellbeing Certificate of Completion. To begin, participants must complete the first module—“Creating a Culture of Wellbeing: Organizational Strategies for Promoting Wellbeing in the Workplace.” The remaining modules can be completed in any order.

Modules include “How to Request, Receive, and Give Feedback Effectively”; “Transforming Conflict”; “QPR Assessment”; and “Diversity and Inclusion.” The AVMA Workplace Wellbeing Certificate Program is made possible by an educational grant from Merck Animal Health.

Visit AVMA Axon at to learn more about the program.

Maddie’s Million Pet Challenge Awarded $7.4M Grant

GettyImages-1303362255.jpgThe Maddie’s Million Pet Challenge has been awarded a five-year, $7.4 million grant from Maddie’s Fund, a foundation established to improve the status and wellbeing of companion animals.

The challenge is a collaboration among the University of California-Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program, Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida, Open Door Veterinary Collective, and Team Shelter USA. Veterinary and animal welfare experts from these groups will deploy to communities across the country to offer free consultations to shelters and veterinary clinics on how to keep pets with their families and out of shelters, as well as teaching veterinary clinics a financially sustainable model that removes cost as a barrier to providing pets with needed veterinary care.

“Our goal is for every animal in every community to be assured what we call the Four Rights,” said Kate Hurley, director of the Koret Shelter Medicine Program, in a statement. “That means providing every animal with the Right Care in the Right Place, at the Right Time, and with the Right Outcome. This is the new normal communities deserve, and we want to help them get and stay there.”


“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”

­—Shirley Chisholm—politician, educator, first Black woman elected to the US Congress


Pet Ownership Can Boost Brain Power

A new study has found that having a long-term pet companion may delay memory loss and other kinds of cognitive decline. Pet ownership was especially beneficial for working verbal memory, such as memorization of word lists, according to the preliminary research. The study was presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting in April.

“To our knowledge, our study is the first to consider the effect of duration of pet ownership on cognitive health,” first author Jennifer Applebaum, a sociology doctoral candidate and National Institute of Health predoctoral fellow at University of Florida, told CNN in an email. “And it’s not just cats and dogs that can boost the brain. People in the study also cared for rabbits, hamsters, birds, fish, and reptiles,” Applebaum said, although “dogs were most prevalent, followed by cats.”

Researchers stated that owning household pets for five years or more produced the most benefit, delaying cognitive decline by 1.2 points over the six-year period of the study compared with the rate of decline in people without pets. “These findings provide early evidence to suggest that long-term pet ownership could be protective against cognitive decline,” said clinical neuroimmunologist Tiffany Braley, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Michigan and senior author of the study.

The study—which researchers report could only show an association, not a direct cause and effect between pet ownership and cognition—was unable to answer the question of why having pets for more than five years had the most positive impact. However, previous studies have pointed to the negative effects of stress on brain health, especially chronic stress, Braley said.

“Prior research has also identified associations between interactions with companion animals and physiological measures of stress reduction, including reductions in cortisol levels and blood pressure, which in the long-term could have an impact on cognitive health,” she said.

“We do not recommend pet ownership as a therapeutic intervention,” Applebaum said. “However, we do recommend that people who own pets be supported in keeping them via public policy and community partnerships.”

Abolishing pet fees on rental housing and providing free or low-cost vet services would go a long way toward helping pet owners keep their pets, “particularly in low-income communities and communities of color,” Applebaum said. She said other ideas include providing foster or boarding support for people who are unexpectedly unavailable to care for their pets because of a health crisis. “An unwanted separation from a pet can be devastating for a bonded owner, and marginalized populations are most at-risk of these unwanted outcomes,” she said.

Five Trends to Watch in Pet Care and Products

The overarching trend in pet care anticipated this year is the accelerated humanization of the family pet, according to online pet product marketplace, which recently published 2022 pet industry predictions.

“There are certainly more chapters that have yet to be written before this pandemic comes to an end, but one subplot has already emerged: love and appreciation for our pets has reached an all-time high,” said Kate Jaffe, trend expert at Rover. “More and more, we’re relying on our pets to be our friends and to provide emotional support. It’s a fair assumption that pet parents will repay the favor in 2022, accelerating the pet industry to new heights.”

Prediction #1: Anxiety Solutions Soar

More time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to rising attachment anxiety and behavioral interests among dogs and cats. In fact, demand for training and anxiety solutions is “10 times higher” than pre-pandemic levels according to Rover dog people panelist and certified professional dog trainer (CPDT-KA) Nicole Ellis. As we enter the third year of the pandemic, Rover expects to see a sizable increase in calming products and solutions such as calming treats, lick mats, and more.

Prediction #2: More Pet Parents Thinking Green

With a growing emphasis on climate change, 2022 will see more sustainably made and eco-friendly pet products come to market as pet parents learn more about the carbon “pawprint” of their companion animals. Expect more mindfulness, a how-canI-reduce mentality, and eco-friendly products—including sustainable pet food protein sources, packaging, and cat litter—to become a priority among pet parents.

Prediction #3: Nutrition Goes Next-Level

Two main factors will drive improvement in pet food nutrition in 2022: The aforementioned increasingly climate-conscious culture and the growing sentiment that furry family members deserve a healthy, well-balanced diet that fits their needs. Expect consumers to seek out alternative protein sources with more nutritional benefits and less environmental impact. Wellness trends will trickle down to pet care, with more options for digestive and immunity support and rising human-grade fresh pet food options.

Prediction #4: Pets Go Digital

A growing pet industry market capitalization means more money and innovation will provide pet parents with more technology-based solutions than ever before.

Dog-activated video calls, virtual vet visits, smart feeders and collars, microchip-enabled devices, and even online services—like a virtual weight loss clinic for pets—are already a reality. Expect these new technologies to double down as pet parents seek out tech that delivers convenience, safety, and health monitoring solutions in the years to come.

Prediction #5: The Humanization of Pets Continues

There will be a growing recognition that pets are people too. If that sounds hyperbolic, consider recent trends in human culture—from organic bedding to meal delivery services and telehealth, insurance, and even custody lawyers—and realize that they continue to crossover to our pets.

“If you ask most parents, they’ll say that their top priority is providing their children with happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives—and they’ll do just about everything in their power to make that happen. I really think we’re approaching the point where the same can be said for pet parents,” said Jaffe.


Core Strength Could Help Dogs Avoid Knee Injuries

Agility dogs lacking core strength from routine physical exercise and those participating in activities like flyball may be more susceptible to one of the most common canine knee injuries.

That knee injury is a cranial cruciate ligament rupture, which is equivalent to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear in humans.

A research survey conducted by staff at the Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine documented activity and injury odds of more than 1,200 agility dogs. They found that just about any physical exercise seems to lower the risk of rupturing the ligament, but some exercises seem to increase the risk. In addition, researchers say, the size and shape of the dog play a role, with certain breeds found to be at higher risk.

“Balance exercises, wobble boards, anything that improves the core strength of the dog seemed to lower the odds of a ligament tear,” said Deb Sellon, a Washington State University veterinarian and lead author on the study, published in BMC Veterinary Research. “We found fitness matters for dogs just like it does for people, and we haven’t shown that before.”

Sellon is also the founder of the university’s Agility Dog Health Network, which was accessed in the study. By using odds ratios, essentially a statistical risk assessment, Sellon and Denis Marcellin-Little, a veterinary orthopedic specialist with University of California-Davis, looked for trends in 1,262 agility dogs—260 that tore the ligament and 1,002 dogs that did not.

The survey confirmed some longstanding and well-accepted risk factors as well. In particular, female dogs spayed before the age of one were almost twice as likely to rupture the ligament compared with dogs that were spayed after their first birthday. Sellon said this is believed to reflect the importance of hormones in developing strong ligaments in young animals.

Trends were also identified among certain breeds. Survey results indicated Australian shepherds and Labrador retrievers were more than twice as likely to rupture the ligament. Rottweilers and Australian cattle dogs were more than four times as likely to tear the ligament.

Marcellin-Little speculates that could have something to do with the shape of the dog, and maybe its tail. “Larger dogs doing agility tend to be less balanced, so it is not surprising a Rottweiler or Australian shepherd may be at a higher risk of a rupture compared to smaller breeds,” he said. “The tail could also be a factor; the tail has been proven very important for cheetahs, and you can imagine it has a role to play in the overall balance of the dog.”

Marcellin-Little said there is still a great deal of research that needs to be completed, but the survey gives veterinarians a place to start.

Study Suggests Dog Waste Could Be Harming the Soil in Nature Reserves


A new study published in the British journal Ecological Solutions and Evidence found that dogs relieving themselves in nature may be overfertilizing ecosystems and causing a damaging loss of biodiversity.

Researchers at Ghent University estimate that each year, dog feces and urine add an average of 24 lbs (11 kg) of nitrogen and 11 lbs (5 kg) of phosphorous per 2.47 acres (1 hectare) to nature reserves near the Belgian city of Ghent. The researchers say that the nutrients added through this neglected form of fertilization are substantial and could be detrimental to biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.

Professor Pieter De Frenne of Ghent University and lead author of the research said, “We were surprised by how high nutrient inputs from dogs could be. Atmospheric nitrogen inputs from agriculture, industry, and traffic rightfully receive a lot of policy attention, but dogs are entirely neglected in this respect.” Though the findings were made in Belgium, De Frenne reports that the situation is likely similar in other reserves close to cities in Europe and in the US.

To reduce the load on environments, park managers could introduce more off-leash dog parks in areas with less sensitive ecosystems, and dog owners could also try to encourage their dogs to go before entering the park or keep them on a leash to avoid spreading the contamination, he said. “At least pick up the feces, because then you remove 97% of the phosphorus and half of the nitrogen,” De Frenne said.

AVMA Animal Health Studies Database Offers a Resource for Veterinarians, Pet Owners

GettyImages-1152326457.jpgThe AVMA Animal Health Studies Database has listings for more than 500 veterinary clinical trials and studies. The studies range over 17 different fields of veterinary medicine, from anesthesia to soft tissue surgery. Additionally, the database has information about what to expect from participation in a clinical study and what questions to ask. The AVMA says that veterinarians can participate in the creation of new knowledge by discussing with clients the suitability of their animals for enrollment in a relevant veterinary clinical study. View the AVMA Animal Health Studies Database at


Photo credits: herraez/iStock via Getty Images; iStock via Getty Images; IonelV/iStock via Getty Images; Akchamczuk/iStock via Getty Images, IPGGutenbergUKLtd/iStock via Getty Images



Subscribe to NEWStat