Weekly companion animal news: June 26, 2023

Parasites more common, more widespread in North American pets than previously believed: Antech study

The first of two research abstracts presented by Antech at the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine’s 2023 forum studied more than 300,000 fecal samples from cats and dogs collected in the first 10 months following KeyScreen GI Parasite PCR’s 2022 launch. Molecular diagnostic testing revealed more than 25% of dogs and cats from the studied population were infected with at least one parasite, showing much more sensitive detection than conventional fecal testing. Co-infections were detected in more than 20% of pets with parasites. Among the dog samples that identified hookworm, more than 11% were found to have the marker for anthelmintic drug (benzimidazole) resistance. In addition to uncovering a much higher frequency of parasite infection, further research shows the parasite problem to be more widespread in North America than previously believed, according to the announcement.

Veterinary care startup shuts down after raising $80 million

Veterinary care startup Fuzzy, founded in 2016, is no longer active, Coverager reports. Dr. Cherice Roth, the company’s chief medical officer, confirmed the news in a social media post, noting it isn’t obvious why the closure occurred in the way it did. Fuzzy’s site and mobile apps have been taken down and the LinkedIn and Twitter profiles of co-founder and CEO Zubin Bhettay no longer exist. Fuzzy provided 24/7 live chat and telehealth for $15 a month, ship-to-home prescriptions, veterinarian-curated items in its e-commerce marketplace, and programs for nutrition, training and obedience. It has raised $80.5 million from several investors.

Retailers eye pet insurance market

Is pet insurance a new opportunity for retailers? This spring, Chewy expanded its CarePlus health and wellness offerings by adding options for personalized pet plans with pet insurers Lemonade and Trupanion. In 2022, Petco announced a partnership with Nationwide to offer protection for pets. In 2020, Walmart partnered with provider Petplan. And recently, Australia-based Pet Circle announced its decision to launch a new insurance product, reportedly offering one of the highest policy limits in Australia for dogs annually. GlobalPETS reports.

Non-pet specialty retailers find opportunity in the pet market

As more retailers partner with other businesses to attract customers to their stores, the home improvement retail channel appears to be taking advantage of the pet market. As a result, some shoppers may have noticed a Petco sharing space in a Lowe’s store or an Allivet pharmacy setting up shop in Blain’s Farm & Fleet stores in the Midwest. While it’s not surprising that retailers of all types are looking to incorporate pet-focused components into their offerings, for many in the pet specialty channel, the competition may be unwelcome. Pet Product News reports.

Minnesota animal health officials urge dog flu vaccination

Minnesota animal health officials are urging pet owners to have their dogs vaccinated against influenza. The virus is still spreading, with at least 84 confirmed cases in the Twin Cities. That number has more than quadrupled in just over a month. The Minnesota Board of Animal Health warns the vaccine may not be easy to find and dog owners are urged to contact their veterinarian very soon, CBS reports.

Veterinary care shortage takes toll on Idaho

The national veterinary care shortage has taken an especially hard toll on the state of Idaho. Local animal shelters and veterinarians have pointed to more expensive costs for treatment, longer waiting times for appointments and an uptick in pet surrenders and unnecessary euthanasia. Particularly as Idaho housing costs have increased sharply over the last five years, the overwhelming financial pressure of veterinary treatment has led many pet owners to surrender their pets, causing added stress for local shelters like the Idaho Humane Society. Idaho’s lack of a veterinary school, the high debt veterinary students incur and burnout longtime veterinarians often experience also have contributed to the state’s care shortage, the Idaho Capital Sun reports.

Clemson University trustees approve South Carolina’s first college of veterinary medicine

Following approval by its board of trustees, Clemson University is preparing to launch South Carolina’s first college of veterinary medicine. The approval follows the completion of the fiscal year 2024 state budget, which includes significant support for the new college from Gov. Henry McMaster and the South Carolina General Assembly, according to the announcement. The school plans to enroll its first students in fall 2026.

Book explores dogs’ role in creating conflict

A recently published book by sociologist James K. Beggan, “How Our Love of Dogs Creates Social Conflict,” explores whether dogs intentionally disrupt human relationships to gain some advantage. Beggan raises several points, including whether dogs actively create conflict in triad relationships with two humans, and whether they escalate human conflict to further their own relational interests. The author points out that dogs have advanced perspective-taking skills and can know what other dogs and/or humans are thinking, enabling them to play an active role in conflict. Psychology Today reports.