Weekly companion animal news: April 29, 2024

Soaring veterinary costs hit pet owners

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of urban veterinarian services rose by 7.9% from February 2023 to February 2024. Dr. David Lee, an associate dean and professor at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, listed several reasons for the rising costs of veterinary care, such as a shortage of veterinarians and a chronic dearth of technicians. Increased demand from a surge of pandemic-era pet adoptions and a subsequent tight labor market have pushed up labor costs, which Lee said can make up 60% of a practice’s expenses. Other factors at play include more expensive medications and technologically advanced diagnostic tests, along with increasing corporate consolidation and the growing presence in the industry of private equity firms, USA Today reports.

Veterinarians want to serve pets, but clients’ financial difficulties cause challenges: survey

Veterinarians generally feel a deep commitment to their calling. However, certain factors, such as clients who can’t afford appropriate veterinary care, can take a toll, according to a survey conducted by Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets. In the survey, 57% of practitioners said their desire to become veterinarians was fueled by a shared aspiration to make pets’ lives better. This is at odds, however, with the realities of veterinary care: More than 80% of participating veterinarians said that at least once a month, they encounter clients who are unable to pay for treatment of a pet’s life-threatening health issue, and more than 37% said they are faced with such situations once a week or more. “These results reflect the sense of disillusionment we know is felt by so many practitioners in the veterinary profession today,” said Dr. Callie Harris, senior veterinary communications manager for Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets.

Veterinarians feel the profession is underappreciated: Boehringer Ingelheim survey

Boehringer Ingelheim released findings from a survey of 1,056 companion animal, livestock and equine veterinarians in the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Brazil and Germany to explore whether veterinarians feel valued and understood by animal owners. A main finding of the study was that only 49% of veterinarians felt the veterinary profession in general is appreciated. Perceived levels of appreciation for the profession were relatively consistent across key types of veterinary teams, with only 48% of pet-focused (cats and dogs), 55% of livestock and 42% of equine veterinary professionals reporting that their profession was appreciated. This is despite 75% of survey respondents reporting feeling personally appreciated by their client base. Companion animal survey respondents said they wished people knew more about “our compassion and dedication to animal welfare” while livestock/equine respondents noted the “importance, competence and value of the profession.”

Mars Veterinary Health examines antimicrobial purchasing in new study

A new study from Mars Veterinary Health examines antimicrobial purchasing practices across more than 2,000 of the company’s clinics in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. According to the announcement, the goal of the research “was to establish a clearer understanding of antimicrobial use patterns in our veterinary practices to help lay the foundation for effective antimicrobial stewardship strategies.” Facilities in the top 10% of total purchasing of antimicrobials accounted for 23-30% of purchases, compared to only 1.6-3.8% in the bottom 10%, according to the study. This is similar to a human health care study that found the top 10% of antibiotic prescribers were responsible for 41% of antibiotic prescriptions, Mars said.

Nu.Q Vet Cancer Test launches in-clinic in U.S. and Europe through Antech

VolitionRx Limited announced its Nu.Q Vet Cancer Test is now available in-clinic to veterinarians across the United States and Europe through Antech. According to the announcement, the test provides veterinarians “with a rapid, accurate and cost-effective cancer screening tool for high-risk breeds and older dogs, at the patient side, with results in about six minutes.” By incorporating the test into annual checkups or regular senior wellness exams, “veterinarians can detect cancer earlier and help pet owners make timely, informed decisions about cancer care,” said Dr. Tom Butera, CEO of Volition Veterinary Diagnostics Development LLC.

Pets can get bird flu. Here’s how to spot it

While rare, there have been reported cases of cats and dogs becoming infected with avian influenza H5N1. Cases have been reported in four countries: France, Poland, the United States and South Korea, said Dr. Alice Jeromin. That said, it’s not running rampant, she added. “We feel that our domestic animals are getting this from wild bird droppings, or the feral or stray cat that’s hanging around your house or barn happens to eat a dead or a live bird,” Jeromin said. “There’s no specific antiviral treatment available; only supportive care.” Symptoms to watch for in pets include lack of appetite, listlessness or fever, WKYC reports.

FTC votes to ban noncompete agreements

U.S. companies would no longer be able to prohibit employees from taking jobs with competitors under a rule approved by the Federal Trade Commission, The Associated Press reports. The agency voted 3-2 to ban the measures, known as noncompete agreements, which bar workers from jumping to or starting competing companies for a prescribed period of time. According to the FTC, 30 million people, or roughly one in five workers, are now subject to such restrictions. While the agreements are typically associated with high-level executives at technology and financial companies, in recent years they’ve affected lower-paid workers such as security guards and sandwich shop employees. The rules have also come into question in the veterinary field. The rule, which doesn’t apply to workers at nonprofits, is to take effect in four months unless it’s blocked by legal challenges.

California bill would prohibit apartment no-pet policies

Proposed legislation in California would ban blanket no-pets policies and prohibit landlords from charging additional fees for common pets like cats and dogs, The Associated Press reports. Supporters of the bill, which recently cleared a key committee, say the lack of pet-friendly units is pushing renters to forgo housing or relinquish beloved pets to overcrowded shelters. But landlords say they’re worried about the cost of repairs, liability over potential dog bites and nuisance issues that might drive away other tenants. They also want state lawmakers to allow higher security deposits to scrub out possible urine and feces stains in carpets or repair damage to wood floors.

New SoundByte: Restore

Restore, from Noxsano, is a nitric oxide product designed to accelerate wound healing. According to the company, the product is clinically proven to drive 40% faster healing. It enables longer change intervals and fewer office visits, and it provides infection control including resistant bacteria. Read more in the SoundByte from Veterinary Advantage.