Companion Animal News for week of October 14

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U.S. pet treat market to reach $6.7B: report

U.S. pet owners prefer to buy treats for their dogs and cats from bricks-and-mortar retailers rather than online sellers, and show increasing interest in CBD products, a new report shows. The market research firm Packaged Facts estimated that U.S. retail sales of pet treats will reach $6.7 billion this year, a 3% rise year over year. Mass merchandisers like Walmart and Target are the major players in pet treat sales, capturing a 33% market share compared with 18% for supermarkets and 13% for online sellers, Today’s Veterinary Business (also published by NAVC) reports. A Packaged Facts survey found that 11% of dog owners and 8% of cat owners have purchased supplements or treats containing CBD or hemp for their pets. Treat recalls, especially of products made overseas, have led pet owners to look for manufacturers closer to home, the firm said. The report also found that 12% of dog owners and 8% of cat owners buy treats using an online subscription or auto-ship service.

Ohio State doctor weighs in on human diet trends for pets; manufacturers address raw pet food concerns

In the midst of many new trends in human dieting, Ohio State University experts urge people not to assume what works for them will also work for their pets, the university’s news service reports. One of these experts, Dr. Valerie Parker, offered perspective on three popular human trends that have entered the pet food realm with ample debate: grain-free diets, vegetarian or vegan diets, and raw and homemade diets. “People just want to do what’s best for their pets, but when they apply human diets to their animals, it doesn’t always work out well,” Parker said. Federal regulators are also warning pet owners, particularly about raw pet food, which they say could be dangerous for both owners and their pets. Industry stakeholders, however, say regulators are taking excessive steps. Pet Product News shares several manufacturer representatives’ responses to this question: “There have been concerns about the safety of raw pet food, particularly from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). What are your thoughts?” “While it is a necessary and helpful organization,” one respondent wrote, “the FDA does not have the scientific proof that raw pet food is dangerous to people.” According to another respondent, “The raw pet food industry has experienced some product recalls, which has resulted in some customers having trust/credibility issues with raw pet food. This, unfortunately, gives the perception that raw pet food is not safe.”

Tuition transparency up for discussion; Pennsylvania veterinarians address suicide

Almost a fifth of veterinary graduates in 2018 accrued a quarter-million dollars’ worth of educational debt or more, not including debt they may have accumulated during their undergraduate studies, the American Veterinary Medical Association reports. Overall, mean educational debt accumulated during veterinary school was $152,358 for all respondents of the AVMA 2018 Senior Survey, which includes respondents without debt. The Student AVMA House of Delegates has focused on tuition transparency since 2018. At this year’s SAVMA House of Delegates meeting, delegates received a tuition transparency toolkit, which provides information on the calculation of tuition and fees and lays out a process for providing timely notification about tuition increases. Financial stress is a major contributor to alarming rates of suicide in the veterinary profession. As the issue becomes more visible, doctors and institutions are trying to offer resources to help students and professionals deal with extreme stress. The University of Pennsylvania’s veterinary school, for example, has hired a financial counselor, a career counselor and mental health counselor at two of its campuses. Since Page Buck, the mental health counselor at Penn’s New Bolton campus, began working just a few hours a week two years ago, her hours have more than tripled. “The need hasn’t increased because they’re less well,” she told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “They’re more aware of what services there are, and there’s less stigma.”

Mars expands international veterinary practice ownership

Mars’ pet care segment has entered veterinary clinic markets in Japan and Brazil, and it’s revamped its management structure to reflect its rapidly growing stable of veterinary properties and services around the world, VIN News reports. Doug Drew, the company’s North America president, said the VCA veterinary hospital network, which is part of Mars, acquired three practices in Japan and is considering more. In Brazil, Mars is now a 50% shareholder of Pet Care Central Veterinario S.A., which owns five practices. Mars, the biggest U.S. veterinary company, has also expanded its presence in the United Kingdom by acquiring another practice there. And last year, the company purchased Sweden-based AniCura, which has 270 clinics across Europe. Mars this month formally created a Mars Veterinary Health division, with a North America unit and an international unit. By putting its major diagnostics acquisitions under the international veterinary unit, the company is demonstrating its intention to build its diagnostic services around the world, Drew said.

Boehringer Ingelheim unveils expansion of Georgia vaccine plant

Boehringer Ingelheim has completed a $76 million expansion of an Athens, Georgia, factory that makes more than 150 vaccines, including the Recombitek line for dogs, PureVax for cats and Imrab rabies vaccines. This expansion doubles the plant’s capacity and will allow the production of hundreds of millions of vaccine doses a year, Today’s Veterinary Business reports. Boehringer Ingelheim announced last winter that it would invest more than $120 million in its Georgia operations, including the Duluth headquarters and plants in Athens and Gainesville. “Boehringer Ingelheim continues to be a strong contributor to our economy,” sad U.S. Senator David Perdue, who toured the Athens plant.

Kindred Biosciences announces positive opinion from European agency for Mirataz

Biopharmaceutical company Kindred Biosciences announced that the European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use has adopted a positive opinion recommending marketing authorization of Mirataz (mirtazapine transdermal ointment) for body weight gain in cats experiencing poor appetite and weight loss resulting from chronic medical conditions. If approved in the European Union, Mirataz would be the first and only medication approved to induce body weight gain in cats with poor appetites and weight loss because of chronic conditions, according to KindredBio. A marketing authorization decision from the European Commission is anticipated within approximately two months. The company also announced it filed for regulatory approval of Mirataz in Canada. The validation of the Canadian submission will be complete in the next month to month and a half, and once accepted for review, the review timeline is approximately one year.

Midmark releases updates to line of steam sterilizers

Midmark announced an update to its Ritter M9 and M11 steam sterilizers, a line of tabletop sterilizers. The sterilizer cycle times have been updated to align with U.S. Food and Drug Administration-recommended four-minute standard cycles. They have improved dying capabilities, are available in a new color and include a pouch rack. The optional printer accessory has been updated to a quiet thermal printer, according to the announcement. “In order for instrument processing equipment to be effective, it must be simple to use and maintain while also helping the user adhere to proper instrument processing protocols,” said Kurt Forsthoefel, director of medical marketing at Midmark. “The Midmark line of updated steam sterilizers provides the solid foundation practices need for worry-free infection prevention measures in their facility.”

Oregon State University to get radiation equipment for pets with cancer

An Oregon couple is donating half a million dollars toward a $2.2 million piece of radiation treatment equipment at Oregon State University, KTVA reports. Oregon currently doesn’t have radiation oncology treatment available for animals. The nearest facilities offering treatment are in Washington and California. The new instrument, a linear accelerator, will expand treatment options for animals with cancer at Oregon State’s veterinary teaching hospital. “Radiation therapy is one of the mainstays of cancer treatment, and the lack of facilities in Oregon is a difficult hurdle to overcome for our patients,” said Dr. Haley Leeper, a veterinary oncologist at the hospital. She estimates about one-third of the oncology patients seen at the hospital could benefit from radiation treatment.

Veterinarian suggests treatments for dinosaur injuries

Using a recent paper that details hundreds of dinosaur injuries, a Colorado State University veterinarian considered how he would treat some damaged dinosaurs at his clinic. For example, Sue the Tyrannosaurus rex, at the Field Museum, had several broken arm bones and a number of other injuries. “If a big dog got hit by a car, we might see this same sort of presentation,” the veterinarian, Dr. Ben Golas, told The New York Times. He recommended temporarily immobilizing the injured right arm by bandaging it against the body. And “if Sue could get their head around to lick the wound, they would absolutely need a cone,” he said. Golas offered recommendations for other dinosaurs too.