Weekly companion animal news: April 15, 2024

North American pet insurance industry grew nearly 22% last year: NAPHIA

The North American pet health insurance sector grew 21.9% in 2023, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association’s latest “State of the Industry Report,” released April 10. According to the report, the North American pet insurance industry in 2023 for the first time exceeded the $4 billion mark, with $4.27 billion in total premiums sold and more than 6.25 million pets insured across North America. That number was up 20.9% from 2022. “For the fifth year in a row, the U.S. market grew by over 20%,” said NAPHIA President Rick Faucher. “With rising penetration rates for dogs and cats in the U.S. and the potential for future, sustained growth, we see a tremendous upside for the industry and are very encouraged about the future.” Read report highlights here. Read the press release here.

Dog owners spend up to $5,225 each year on pet care: Rover

New dog owners spend between $870 and $4,565 during the first year of pet ownership, according to a study conducted by pet services marketplace Rover and highlighted in The Motley Fool. Adoption fees, spay or neuter surgeries, vaccinations and microchips are some bigger expenses new pet owners may pay. Beyond initial adoption expenses, regular expenses can include food, toys, crates, harnesses and collars, and annual veterinary checkups, costing dog owners between $1,000 and $5,225 yearly to care for their pets, the study found. Rover offers advice to help prospective owners prepare for the financial burden of caring for their new pet.

Antech announces availability of new veterinary diagnostic tools

Antech announced the availability of two new products: AIS RapidRead, meant to enable faster interpretations of radiographs, and the in-house Nu.Q Canine Cancer Test. AIS RapidRead, part of Antech’s artificial intelligence pipeline, provides rapid imaging technology, allowing an image to be read in minutes instead of days or hours, according to Antech. Nu.Q Canine Cancer Test, developed by VolitionRx Limited, is a rapid cancer screening tool for high-risk breeds and older dogs.

Fidelis Animal Health announces label expansion for Ethiqa XR post-procedural pain medication

Fidelis Animal Health announced an expanded label indication for Ethiqa XR (buprenorphine extended-release injectable suspension) 1.3 mg/mL CIII that now includes use in non-human primates, in addition to mice, rats and ferrets. Fidelis calls Ethiqa XR “the only pharmaceutical-grade extended-release buprenorphine FDA-indexed for the control of post-procedural pain in mice, rats, ferrets, and non-human primates up to 72 hours after just one injection.” The company offers full prescribing information on its website.

Veterinarians worry as private equity enters the industry

Veterinarians are raising concerns that private equity’s entry into the pet health care industry could compromise care, bringing increased prices, a drop in services and shuttered hospitals as owners seek to maximize shareholder profits, Stateline reports. “Before, I never felt any pressure to be making a certain amount of money in a day,” said Dr. Melissa Ezell, who noticed changes at the National Veterinary Associates clinic where she worked after the company was acquired by JAB Consumer Partners. Some states have laws that prohibit non-veterinarians from owning veterinary practices, and some consumer advocates want states to review large-scale acquisitions in the industry.

CDC documents rare fungal infection discovered in 2 cats and a vet tech

A cluster of rare fungal infections was found in two pet cats in Kansas, as well as the veterinary technician who treated them, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The three cases, which occurred in late 2022 and early 2023, were caused by a fungus called Sporothrix schenckii. Sporotrichosis—the illness caused by a Sporothrix infection—is rare in the United States but not unheard of. It’s generally picked up through contact with sharp plants that can pierce a person’s skin. Sporotrichosis tends to cause a skin infection that’s very slow to heal, but it isn’t contagious. When cats are infected, however, they carry a very high fungal load, meaning their wounds have a higher risk of spreading the infection to other cats, dogs and people, NBC News reports.

WSAVA updates global vaccination guidelines for dogs and cats

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association has updated its global vaccination guidelines, which present the latest scientific thinking on the vaccination of dogs and cats globally, Vet Practice Magazine reports. The guidelines are available on the WSAVA website. The new version includes a revised definition of core vaccines, a new section covering maternal antibody, and updated sections on current topics in canine and feline clinical vaccinology and on the use of vaccines in shelters and sanctuaries. Additionally, the WSAVA vaccination guidelines group has produced sets of regional vaccination guidelines for veterinarians in Asia and Latin America and is currently undertaking a four-year project to boost understanding of infectious disease across sub-Saharan Africa and to advise veterinarians on optimal vaccination practice.

Scientists find avian flu in small number of New York City birds

The H5N1 avian flu virus is present in a small fraction of New York City birds, according to a new study. People generally associate zoonotic diseases with rural settings, farms or the wilderness, said Florian Krammer, a flu expert at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York who led the new study. But he noted that New York City has many green spaces and bodies of water used by migratory and local birds. “There is an extensive interface between wild animals and humans in cities,” he said. “There is no reason to panic, but it’s good to be aware of it.” Among the roughly 1,900 samples analyzed in the new study, researchers found versions of the H5N1 virus in six birds, in four species. Cats and dogs are susceptible to the virus and can acquire it from infected birds, their feces or contaminated water, The New York Times reports.