Weekly companion animal news: May 28, 2024

Citing rising cost of veterinary care, Trupanion announces 29% rate increase approved in California

Trupanion announced that the California Department of Insurance approved a 29% rate increase, which is in addition to its previously approved 12% rate increase last June. The new rate will go into effect during late July 2024. “The rising cost of veterinary care amplifies the need for Trupanion to price correctly,” according to the announcement. “Given the financial impact inflation has had on veterinary practices in California since 2022, this new rate will bring California residents more in line with those rising costs.”

HABRI policy forum focuses on pets’ role in improving mental health

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute hosted its first-ever Spring Policy Forum, which brought together “leaders in the pet care community and partners in the mental health space to move society toward more widespread awareness of the important role of companion animals for improved mental health,” according to the announcement. Speakers included Susan Trachman, a board-certified psychiatrist who talked about the role of pet ownership in supporting mental health. Additionally, Mental Health America and HABRI shared results of a survey of 4,000 MHA constituents that found pet owners “overwhelmingly report positive health benefits resulting from their pet,” HABRI said.

Vetoquinol announces UpCard-CA1 (torsemide oral solution) receives conditional FDA approval

Vetoquinol announced that UpCard-CA1 (torsemide oral solution) received conditional approval from the FDA. The product is a potent loop diuretic with a once-daily administration to help manage pulmonary edema in dogs with congestive heart failure caused by myxomatous mitral valve disease. UpCard-CA1 is available in an easily titrated oral solution for precise dosing adjustments, according to the announcement. Veterinarians will be able to order it through distributors in July.

Four more U.S. cats die of H5N1 avian flu

Four more cats have died of H5N1 bird flu in the United States, including two pets in South Dakota with no links to poultry or dairy cows, according to state and federal officials. At least 14 cats have recently died of bird flu, BNO News reports. Of the newly reported cases, two were domestic cats that died at a property in Campbell County in South Dakota, according to a state official and the USDA. Beth Thompson, the state’s veterinarian, said there were no livestock on the property where the pets died. “No other details regarding how the cats were infected are known at this time,” she said. Two other cases were recently reported in Michigan—one in Isabella County and the other in Ionia County. Both cases involved barn cats on commercial dairy farms where cows were also infected with H5N1.

Veterinary consolidator CVS leaves Ireland and Netherlands, selling practices for $2

The British corporate consolidator CVS Group has retreated from Ireland and the Netherlands, selling all its veterinary practices in the two countries for just 2 euros, or $2.17. The practices, which have been losing money, are being sold to a company set up by Dr. James Cahill, a veterinarian and the former head of CVS’ international operations. It’s not unusual for financially unprofitable businesses to be sold for paltry sums, since some sort of exchange must take place for a contract to exist. The move marks a significant setback in CVS’ global expansion ambitions, the VIN News Service reports, coming six years after it entered Ireland and eight years after it entered the Netherlands.

This could be a bad tick year, experts warn

Tick season is starting across the United States, and experts are warning that another mild winter and other favorable factors likely mean the 2024 tick population will be equal to last year or larger, The Associated Press reports. An increasing variety of ticks are pushing into new geographical areas, bringing unusual diseases. Exotic southern species like the Gulf Coast tick and the lone star tick are being detected in New York and other northern states, for example. But the tick that experts warn of the most is a common blacklegged tick, which is found mainly in forests and spreads Lyme disease. Infection rates begin to peak in May, and U.S. health officials estimate nearly half a million Lyme disease infections happen annually.

Support for xylazine legislation builds in Congress

The updated version of the Combating Illicit Xylazine Act has bipartisan support in Congress, the AVMA reports. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has even taken the unusual step of calling the bill out by name as legislation that should be signed into law. The updated bill would make xylazine a Schedule III drug. It also ensures the legitimate veterinary uses of this animal sedative would remain legal and includes provisions to help maintain the availability of veterinary xylazine and track the legitimate supply. Without national legislation in place, xylazine restrictions are being enacted state by state. This creates a patchwork of differing rules for manufacturers and distributors to navigate, increasing the likelihood of supply disruption, according to the article.

Walmart+ members to receive telehealth offering through Pawp

Walmart+ has partnered with Pawp, a digital health clinic and telehealth platform that connects pet owners with veterinary professionals. Starting later this year, Walmart+ members will have 24/7 virtual access to Pawp’s team of veterinary professionals and receive personalized, actionable post-visit care plans with product recommendations, according to the announcement. This new benefit provides a free pet health service for Walmart+ members during a time when costs are rising for traditional veterinary services and access to care has become increasingly difficult, the companies say.

Midmark offers anesthesia and dentistry CE courses

Midmark offers several continuing education courses to help veterinarians and their staff, with opportunities ranging from foundational training to radiograph interpretation to anesthesia monitoring. According to the company, these educational opportunities, which include more than 40 hours of RACE-approved courses, offer nearly 10 times as much dentistry training as most students receive in veterinary school.