Weekly companion animal news: September 5, 2022

Burnout costs veterinary industry $2 billion a year, research finds

Workplace burnout is costing the veterinary industry $2 billion a year, according to research from the Cornell Center for Veterinary Business and Entrepreneurship. The researchers say it’s critical to demonstrate the financial side of workplace burnout to the veterinary industry so organizations and practices can start taking steps to alleviate the issue. “When we hear about burnout, we don’t often understand the cost of it. That’s what’s been missing in our literature,” said Charlotte Hansen, economist and assistant director of statistical analysis at the AVMA. Two billion dollars in lost revenue is almost 4% of the industry’s entire value, according to Cornell. The cost includes both veterinarians and veterinary nurses/technicians, each accounting for approximately $1 billion lost.

New recommendations aim to prevent cyberattacks in the animal health industry


The United Veterinary Services Association has created a set of recommended best practices to help the animal health industry prevent cyberattacks. The recommendations are meant to prevent data breeches and financial loss for distributors, manufacturers and suppliers of animal care products. They follow a ransomware attack that affected more than 700 animal health networks around the world. Recommendations include end user license agreements and multi-factor authentication. The full list of best practices is available in the announcement from UVSA.

New federal compounding guidance goes into effect in October, but most practices aren’t ready, survey finds

Sixty-nine percent of veterinary practices in a new poll said they’re not confident they’re ready to comply with new FDA guidance on compounding animal drugs. The guidance goes into effect October 1 and “details significant changes to the practices of pharmacy compounding and veterinary medicine,” according to Wedgewood Pharmacy, a compounding pharmacy that conducted the survey. Eighty-three percent of the nearly 1,600 veterinary practices recently polled said they weren’t aware the guidance had been finalized, while 90% said they weren’t aware it would be enforced beginning October 1.

Despite inflation pressures, the pet specialty channel has seen substantial sales growth recently: Packaged Facts

The U.S. pet industry saw its most significant growth ever in 2021, according to a new report from Packaged Facts. Sales by pet specialty retailers and online sellers topped $31 billion last year, with an 18% growth rate surpassing that of the pet and veterinary industry overall. Inflation is still a concern as manufacturers raise prices due to challenges such as acquiring ingredients and packaging materials. In-store services have become critical to pet specialty retailers’ success competing with Amazon and mass-market brick-and-mortar stores. Grooming and boarding services are key marketing points for specialty retailers, as well as veterinary care and dog training.

Parvovirus confirmed as cause of dog deaths in Michigan

Parvovirus has been identified as the cause of more than 30 dog deaths in the last two months in Otsego County, Michigan. While the new strain of the virus doesn’t seem unique from other strains, it wasn’t detected by initial tests. Michigan State University tests, which are more sensitive than those administered in clinics and shelters, confirmed the presence of the virus. Veterinarians are trying to figure out how the illness spread despite having an effective vaccine. They reiterated that vaccination is the best way for owners to protect dogs, WILX reports.

AAHA releases new canine vaccination guidelines

The American Animal Hospital Association has released new guidelines to help veterinary teams create personalized and comprehensive vaccination plans for their canine patients. The updated guidelines encourage veterinary professionals to look beyond “core” and “noncore” designations, since noncore vaccines are essential for many dogs, according to AAHA. “Understanding a dog’s risk factors is vital in determining which vaccines are needed, and the updated guidelines provide practitioners with the tools to do so,” the organization said. The guidelines also provide resources to help veterinary teams with client education, including for clients who are vaccine-hesitant.

Expanding access to veterinary care requires low-cost clinics and a diversified profession, PetSmart Charities president says

A shortage of affordable veterinary care, especially for people living in rural or low-income areas, forces owners to give up their pets. Mitigating the problem requires a two-pronged approach, PetSmart Charities president Aimee Gilbreath writes: Veterinary care has to be made more affordable—including by opening more low-cost clinics in underserved areas—and the veterinary profession needs to be expanded, not only to address a workforce shortage but to diversify the pool of veterinary care professionals so they reflect the diversity of pet ownership. Greater philanthropic and business support is necessary to build this diversity within the profession, Gilbreath writes in The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Pet translator apps are promising, but they need some work

Pet translator apps like MeowTalk—which attempts to translate cats’ meows to human language—have appealing potential. “We want to use this to help people build better and stronger relationships with their cats,” said MeowTalk founder Javier Sanchez. But while the promise of machine-learning algorithms to decode animal communication means the endeavor isn’t impossible, these apps still have some flaws to be mended before they’re perfect. MeowTalk researchers last year said the software could distinguish among nine intents with 90% accuracy. But the app was better at identifying some than others and also, not infrequently, confused “happy” and “pain,” the results found. Plus, determining the accuracy of a cat translation app is difficult. “It’s assuming that you actually know what your cat wants,” said Sergei Dreizin, a MeowTalk founder. The New York Times reports.

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