Weekly companion animal news: August 8, 2022

VVCA model telemedicine regulations aim to guide policymakers

The Veterinary Virtual Care Association has released model regulations for telemedicine meant to guide practitioners, associations, legislatures and state veterinary boards. According to the VVCA, “these are intended to be real-world standards, not theoretical policies, and the VVCA will conduct reviews to update model regulations based upon field experiences and comments from practitioners.” Among other things, the regulations say a virtual veterinarian-client-patient-relationship may be established provided “there is video communication between the parties through which the animal is observed or the veterinarian obtains current knowledge of the animal patient through the use of instrumentation and diagnostic equipment through which images and medical records may be transmitted electronically.”

New coalition advocates for more veterinary telehealth—with an in-person VCPR

A group of industry and professional organizations has launched the Coalition for Connected Veterinary Care with the goal of expanding telehealth in veterinary medicine. The group plans to serve as an educational resource for veterinary professionals and to advocate for regulations that support the use of telehealth. Key to its mission is the idea that a veterinarian-client-patient relationship must be established in person before telehealth is used. “Veterinary telemedicine is most effective and safest—for patients, clients and veterinarians/veterinary practices—when used to maintain a VCPR that has already been established via an in-person examination,” said Dr. Link Welborn, CEO of Veterinary Study Groups, a founding member of the coalition. Other founding members include the AVMA, Merck Animal Health, Elanco, the telehealth company Televet and several other organizations.

New white paper from Nationwide analyzes disease risk in aging dogs

Arthritis is the most common health condition in aging dogs, with rough collies and Bernese mountain dogs among the most likely to be affected, according to a new white paper from Nationwide. The pet insurer analyzed data from more than 4 million years’ worth of recent policy and claims data to provide insight on which breeds are most at risk for various diseases affecting senior dogs. “Having a better understanding of senior pet risks by breed and dog type can help pet families and veterinary health care teams partner together for informed prevention, early diagnosis and optimal disease management along a spectrum of care with targeted, personalized education throughout the life of companion animals,” said Dr. Jules Benson, Nationwide’s chief veterinary officer and lead author on the paper. More findings are highlighted in the announcement from Nationwide.

Philadelphia neighborhood sees growing number of abandoned dogs

A small but growing number of dogs are being abandoned in a wooded section of a Philadelphia neighborhood, some tied to trees or stakes. Other dogs and cats are being dumped elsewhere near the Northwest Philadelphia neighborhood of West Mount Airy, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. “It’s truly an issue, and more overwhelming this summer,” said animal welfare activist Aminda Edgar. At least four abandoned dogs were discovered between April and June in Carpenter’s Woods, part of Wissahickon Valley Park, compared with three found there all last year, Edgar said. A few dead dogs have been found recently as well. Eleven other abandoned dogs and cats have been found in spots near Carpenter’s Woods in the last two years, compared with five between 2015 and 2020, Edgar said. This comes amid a rise of animal surrenders to shelters, at a time when many owners may no longer be able to afford to care for their pets.

Harbor.vet by Suveto launches business fellowship program for veterinarians

Harbor.vet by Suveto has launched a program that aims to give new graduates practical experience with veterinary practice ownership. Graduation to Ownership is a two-year program in which participants will be given an immediate-level veterinary stock ownership plan while working in a Suveto network hospital. This is a risk-free benefit for doctors to share in the financial success of their hospitals without the responsibilities of sole ownership, according to Suveto. Ten percent of participants’ paid work time will be dedicated solely to their personal growth and education, according to the program’s web page. Graduation to Ownership, or GO, will begin in the summer of 2023.

Chewy launches new insurance and wellness plan offering

Chewy announced the launch of CarePlus, offering insurance and wellness plans in 31 states with nationwide availability planned for late 2022. The program’s benefits include access to Chewy’s telehealth service and 100% cost coverage for eligible prescription medication, supplement and veterinary diet food purchases on Chewy’s website. Wellness plans start at $20 a month and cover preventive care, while insurance plans start at $20, $60 or $100 and cover accidents, unexpected illnesses and surgeries. Customers can also bundle insurance and wellness plans.

Terravet launches private real estate investment trust

Terravet Real Estate Solutions announced the launch of Terravet REIT, the company’s first private real estate investment trust. According to the announcement, Terravet REIT will allow owners of veterinary real estate to diversify their holdings by participating in a pool expected to scale to several hundred large general practice facilities and specialty and emergency veterinary hospital facilities nationwide. “Savvy veterinarians recognize the value of their real estate but may be hesitant to sell their property due to potential tax and other considerations,” said Terravet CEO Daniel Eisenstadt. “By using Terravet’s UPREIT structure, we can offer a tax-advantaged solution for single-property owners to contribute their facilities to a veterinary-focused REIT and in turn reap diversification benefits and the possibility of enhanced value and liquidity down the road.”

Wedgewood Pharmacy added to AAHA’s Preferred Business Provider Network

Wedgewood Pharmacy has been named the American Animal Hospital Association’s preferred provider for compounding services. Compounded medications are medicines tailored to individual patients whose needs can’t be met by FDA-approved drugs. “AAHA, its members and Wedgewood Pharmacy share a commitment to improving the lives of animals and those who love them, while elevating the standards of veterinary excellence,” said Randy Burrows, director of business development for Wedgewood Pharmacy.