Notebook: September 2023

News briefs from across the veterinary industry and beyond. This month’s articles include: Pet Insurance Industry Surpasses $3.5 billion; New Center for Veterinary Social Work; Clemson Approves New College of Veterinary Medicine; Research Finds Dogs Have Better Health Outcomes With Another Animal in the home; and Veterinary Supplier Sentenced for Misbranded Drugs.

Clemson Approves New College of Veterinary Medicine

Clemson University is preparing to launch the first College of Veterinary Medicine in the state of South Carolina. The Clemson University College of Veterinary Medicine plans to enroll the first students in fall 2026 with the first class of veterinarians graduating in 2030.

A release stated that the college will leverage the university’s existing animal health programs and infrastructure to create a veterinary medicine workforce to fill a statewide shortage of veterinarians.

The approval of the new college follows an 18-month independent feasibility study that found:

  • 33% of South Carolina counties have fewer than five veterinarians.
  • 48% of the state’s counties have fewer than 10 veterinarians.
  • In 2022, nearly 200 South Carolina students were actively enrolled at 13 veterinary colleges outside the state.

“Veterinarians today play an increasingly important role, in addition to caring for both companion and farm animals, protecting public health, playing an essential role in food safety as well as in detection and control of zoonotic diseases,” said Boyd Parr, co-chair of the Clemson College of Veterinary Medicine steering committee and retired South Carolina State Veterinarian. “This new veterinary college can produce the veterinarians and research that will contribute to a better future for our citizens and our animals.”

Photo credit: sbrogan/E+ via Getty Images


Veterinary Supply Company Fined for Misbranded Drugs

gavelMidwest Veterinary Supply (MVS)—a Minnesota-based company that supplies prescription drugs for animals to veterinarians, farms, feedlots, and other businesses—recently pleaded guilty to introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce and agreed to pay more than $10 million in criminal fines and forfeiture.

“The Department of Justice will continue to ensure that all companies follow federal laws regarding distribution of prescription drugs,” United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh of the Western District of Virginia said. “In this case, millions of dollars were obtained from the illegal distribution of veterinary medicine, and, just like pharmaceuticals intended for human-use, my office will continue to hold accountable those companies and corporations that violate federal law.”

As part of the plea agreement, MVS will forfeit $10.2 million of misbranded drug income and serve one year of probation. Midwest will also pay $1 million to the Virginia Department of Health Professions and a $500,000 fine.


QUOTE OF THE MONTH

“Self-care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”

—Eleanor Brown, author


Recreational Drugs Make ASPCA Annual List of Top Pet Toxins for the First Time

The ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) recently announced its annual list of top toxins for pets.

In 2022, the APCC team assisted more than 400,000 animals from across all 50 states resulting in a nearly 5% increase in case volume when compared to 2021. For the first time ever, recreational drugs including marijuana-based drugs, hallucinogenic mushrooms, and cocaine made the list, knocking out gardening products in the tenth spot.

In 2022, the APCC team fielded nearly 11% more calls related to potential marijuana ingestion than in the previous year, and they have seen a nearly 300% increase in calls over the past five years. The cases most commonly seen at the APCC involve pets ingesting marijuana-laced baked goods which are more dangerous than ingesting plant material and can result in symptoms such as stomach upset, urinary incontinence, and ataxia.

For the first time in nearly 10 years, human medications held only one of the top two spots. While human over-the-counter medications continued to lead the list, making up nearly 17% of the APCC’s total call volume last year, human prescription medications dropped to number three, and food products replaced them as number two. The ASPCA says that pet owners are more aware of the dangers of human medication exposure in pets which can lead to signs from gastrointestinal upset to kidney failure in severe cases. Protein bars, products with xylitol, and grapes and raisins continue to be the most common items in the food category.

For more information about the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, visit www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control.


New Center for Veterinary Social Work

Elizabeth Strand, PhD, LCSWElizabeth Strand, PhD, LCSW

The University of Tennessee College of Social Work and the College of Veterinary Medicine have established the Center for Veterinary Social Work (CVSW). In a release, the center states that it focuses on attending to the welfare of all species through excellence in global interprofessional practice.

The release states that the discipline of veterinary social work was established in 2002 by Elizabeth Strand, PhD, LCSW, the All Creatures Great and Small Endowed Clinical Associate Professor in Veterinary Social Work. This area of social work practice tends to the human needs that arise at the intersection of veterinary medicine and social work practice. The areas of veterinary social work include grief and pet loss, animal-assisted interaction, the link between human and animal violence, and compassion fatigue and conflict management.

Both colleges will share faculty, staff, and fiscal responsibility for the creation and functioning of the Center for Veterinary Social Work. Other programs connected to the center include the College of Social Work’s Program for Pet Health Equity as well as Human-Animal Bond in Tennessee, Companion Animal Initiative of Tennessee, and Shelter Medicine from the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Photo credit: University of Tennessee


Pet Adoption Gateway Prepares to Launch

Family adopting dogShelters United, a group purchasing organization that allows animal welfare groups to purchase animal care supplies and products at discounted prices, is launching a beta test for the Pet Adoption Gateway. This app and mobile-friendly website will provide pet adopters with personalized support and guidance, as well as product recommendations, during the adoption process and throughout their pet’s life. In a release, the company said its goal is to ultimately keep more pets in their new homes by setting the pet adopter up for success.

“Adopters cannot take in all the information needed during the adoption process, so having an app or website to go to in their homes would be very good for them and the adopted pet,” said Mark Neff, president and CEO of Forsyth Humane Society. “A resource such as this could prevent adoption returns.”

When pet adopters use Pet Adoption Gateway to purchase services, veterinary consults, and supplies, the animal welfare organization that facilitated the adoption will receive a portion of the profits.

“Every year, 4 million pets are adopted from animal welfare organizations. New pet owners typically spend between $1,200 and $2,500—for a total of about $5 billion—in the first year, and none of that money goes back to the animal welfare group that did all the work to find the pet a home,” said Mal Schwartz, Shelters United founder. “We’re trying to help these organizations maximize their earning power from the products and services that are purchased by every new pet adopter after they leave the shelter, rescue, or foster organization.”

Photo credit: kali9/E+ via Getty Images


Diversify Veterinary Medicine Coalition Partners With Chewy Health

The Diversify Veterinary Medicine Coalition (DVMC) announced that Chewy Health President Mita Malhotra will join the organization’s board of directors. In a release, DVMC said that Chewy Health is the unit within Chewy that is committed to improving the health of pets via technology, resources, products, and services while aiming to make veterinarians’ jobs easier. As the leader of Chewy Health, they said, Malhotra is motivated to find solutions for the current challenges facing the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) veterinary community and to uncover new ways that Chewy Health can further diversify the pet health space for the benefit of pet parents and veterinary partners alike.

Coupled with a $100,000 donation from Chewy Health to the organization, the release stated, the board appointment marks an important step forward in the coalition’s mission to provide opportunities for everyone to thrive and succeed.


Research Finds Dogs Have Better Health Outcomes With Another Animal in the Home

Two dogs playing with a tennis ballA release from the University of Washington states that the scientists driving the Dog Aging Project try not to make recommendations on healthy aging based on their research findings. But, they say, after parsing the data from their latest study of social determinants of longevity, one thing became too obvious to ignore: The pack is the point.

“This does show that, even for our companion dogs, having those strong social connections and social companions is important,” said Brianah McCoy, a PhD candidate at Arizona State University who is one of the study’s lead authors. “Overall, it’s good for your dog to have social support around, in the form of other people and other dogs. Dogs are social animals, just like us, so they benefit from being around others.”

The new findings are published online in the journal Evolution, Medicine & Public Health. The data are drawn from the 25,000 canines involved in the partnership between the University of Washington School of Medicine, the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine, and more than a dozen member institutions around the nation.

Factors of social support, such as living with other dogs, were associated with better canine health when controlling for age and weight. Factors of financial and household adversity were associated with poor health and lower mobility.

“Societal inequities trickle down to our companion animals as well,” said Noah Snyder-Mackler, an assistant professor in the Arizona State University School of Life Sciences, who oversaw the recent paper. “I think that’s an important take home in terms of how we might develop interventions to address these inequities.”

Photo credit: Pekic/iStock via Getty Images Plus


North American Pet Insurance Industry Surpasses $3.5BPet owner researching pet insurance options

The North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA) recently published its 2023 State of the Industry Report. It states a 24.2% increase in premiums in 2022 compared to 2021, totaling more than 5.36 million insured pets across North America. The US experienced 22.1% growth in total insured pets over 2022.

“2022 marked a return to pre-COVID levels of growth for our industry. This steady growth is significant during a period when many North Americans were also forced to make difficult decisions on their household spending,” stated NAPHIA president Rick Faucher in a release. “We’re pleased that pet parents continue to recognize the value pet insurance provides, both in mitigating unexpected veterinary costs, as well as providing for their pet’s ongoing health care and well-being. It’s the product’s strong value proposition that is driving the significant advances the North American pet insurance industry has experienced over the past five years.”

The 2022 results show total premium volume in the US amounted to $3.51 billion, a 23.5% increase from 2021, NAPHIA states. To read the report, visit naphia.org.

Photo credit: Charday Penn/E+ via Getty Images


Zoetis Announces FDA Approval of Apoquel Chewable TabletDog taking chewable pill

Zoetis Inc. announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Apoquel Chewable (oclacitinib chewable tablet) for the control of pruritus associated with allergic dermatitis and control of atopic dermatitis in dogs at least 12 months of age.

In a release, the company said that Apoquel Chewable, the first and only chewable treatment for the control of allergic itch and inflammation in dogs in the United States is expected to have comparable efficacy to original Apoquel (oclacitinib tablet) after the first dose, with a formulation that may enhance medication compliance and therefore improve outcomes for dogs.

In the US field trial, 1,662 doses of Apoquel Chewable were administered to 120 pet dogs. Apoquel Chewable tablets were administered twice daily for up to 14 days at the labeled dose range of 0.4–0.6 mg/kg with palatability assessed for the first 7 days of dosing. The study found that a total of 1,522 doses (91.6%) of Apoquel Chewable were accepted voluntarily within 5 minutes.

Photo credit: Snizhana Galytska/iStock via Getty Images Plus

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