Weekly companion animal news for December 2: job satisfaction, vet shortage, breast cancer in pets

Poll: Are you happy with your career choice?

Three-fourths of the 116 respondents in a recent Facebook poll by Today’s Veterinary Practice (also published by NAVC) said they’re happy with their career choice. These results were similar to job satisfaction and labor market findings published by the American Veterinary Medical Association, Patricia Wuest writes. According to Charlotte Hansen, an AVMA statistical analyst, all indicators for the veterinary labor market are favorable. “We see increases in (veterinary) salaries, veterinary unemployment is below the national level…and we have more jobs than there are applicants applying for those positions….There are more veterinarians wanting to work fewer hours for less compensation than there are veterinarians wanting to work more hours for more compensation,” Hansen said.

Veterinarian shortage or salaries not keeping up?

One out of three veterinarians is a baby boomer, according to data from the American Veterinary Medical Association, and 60% of those baby boomers are practice owners. “If we look at the future of our profession and assume that in five to 10 years, half of those boomers and the rest of the silent generation retire, that’s 20,000 people leaving the workforce, and those are our most experienced workers, and many own their practice,” Frederic B. Ouedraogo, Ph.D., the AVMA’s assistant director of economics, said at the organization’s October Economic Summit. “This will have an impact on the way we’re doing business.” Despite growth, many parts of the country are also experiencing a shortage of veterinarians. Ouedraogo thinks the disparity may have to do with how much practices are willing to pay for vets’ salaries rather than the number of available vets.

Ohio State University program helps owners deal when their pets die

An Ohio State University program is one of 30 programs in the country that has a full-time social worker to support pet owners dealing with their pet’s death. “We believe every veterinary medical center should have a social worker available to support pet owners navigating this loss,” said Joelle Nielsen, a licensed social worker and coordinator at the organization, Honoring the Bond. Nielsen works as a liaison between the veterinarian and pet owner, helping them understand difficult terminology and make difficult decisions, Kaylyn Hlavaty writes for ABC. “It’s common for people to face conflicting feelings generated from a societal stigma surrounding grieving the loss of an animal,” Nielsen said. “I want people to know that it’s completely normal to grieve the loss of their pet.” Nielsen in this article offers suggestions to help people deal with the loss, and adds that the group hopes the program will be a model for other veterinary medical centers.

Assessing the risk of breast cancer in cats and dogs

While breast cancer is rare in male cats and dogs, it’s very common in females of both species, Dr. Ian Kupkee writes in this NBC article. It’s generally diagnosed at about 10 to 11 years of age. In dogs, the most commonly affected breeds are Poodles, Dachshunds, Spaniels, Rottweilers, Boxers, Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds. Feline breast cancer is most often seen in Siamese, Persian and other Asian breeds. It’s unclear whether breed-specific genetics play a role, Kupkee says. The risk for developing breast cancer at any age is closely linked to a pet’s exposure to estrogen and progesterone in the first few years of life. “The best way to limit your pet’s exposure to said hormones, and thus to reduce the risk of breast cancer, is to have her spayed,” Kupkee writes. “The risk of breast cancer in a dog who is spayed before her first heat cycle is a mere 0.5%. After her first heat cycle, the risk increases to 8%, and rises to 26% after the second cycle.”

Man dies from rare infection after being licked by his dog

A 63-year-old man in Germany has died after contracting a rare infection when he was licked by his dog, Jack Guy reports for CNN. Following the case, which has been highlighted in a paper published in the European Journal of Case Reports in Internal Medicine, doctors have warned pet owners to seek urgent medical advice if they exhibit unusual flu-like symptoms. The previously healthy man’s infection was caused by capnocytophaga canimorsus, a bacterium commonly found in the mouths of dogs and cats. It’s only rarely transmitted to humans. While it can be transmitted through an animal bite, the man in this case had only been touched and licked by his dog, according to the paper. He reported flu-like symptoms at first, then developed severe sepsis and purpura fulminans, an acute disorder that causes blood spots, bruising and discoloration of the skin, as well as necrosis. This is one of a few very rare cases that doctors have encountered in the past two years.

Zoetis acquires another reference laboratory

Zoetis acquired ZNLabs, a veterinary clinical reference laboratory, less than a month after entering the space with the acquisition of Phoenix Central Laboratory. This move provides Zoetis with ZNLabs’ main laboratory in Louisville, Kentucky, and satellite facilities in Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, New Orleans, Salt Lake City and Boise, Idaho, Today’s Veterinary Business (also published by NAVC) reports. “We built ZNLabs with the dream of providing a national reference lab that truly partners with clients and makes testing more accessible for pet owners with our simple, fair pricing model,” said Dr. David Gardiner, a ZNLabs cofounder. “Now with Zoetis, we will be able to rapidly continue to build our innovative reference lab model and provide an expanded diagnostic testing solution to more clients than we ever could have done by ourselves.”

Pet Releaf: CBD company creates veterinary development team

Pet Releaf, a CBD and hemp product manufacturer, announced it’s partnered with two veterinarians to create a veterinary development team. The doctors, Colleen E. Smith and Diana D. Drumm, will assist in product development and research for the company’s products, according to the announcement, featured in Pet Product News. Smith, a certified veterinary acupuncturist, has practiced integrative medicine since 2005, mostly with small animals but horses as well. Drumm did her residency in comparative medicine at the San Diego-based Scripps Research Institute before entering private practice and currently practices at The Animal Healing Center in San Diego. Pet Releaf recently received U.S. Hemp Authority Certification and says it’s the first “pet only” CBD company to do so.

JustFoodForDogs secures $68M in new funding

Fresh dog food maker JustFoodForDogs received $68 million in new funding that officials said will help the company expand. JFFD, based in Irvine, California, has been growing by using several strategies, including launching open-format kitchens in Petco stores across the United States and starting new research, according to the announcement in Pet Product News. Officials said the company has 11 veterinarians on staff. JFFD’s goal is to prepare pet food by human standards, using U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved ingredients in regulated kitchens with vet-approved and tested recipes, according to officials.