Weekly companion animal news for February 17, 2020

Veterinarians warn about fake heartworm medication sold online

Veterinarians are warning pet owners not to purchase risky heartworm preventives online. “The dangers of shopping online is that [you] really don’t know who you’re dealing with,” Susan Bach, regional director of the Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin, told Wisonsin’s WBAY. “So there’s the danger that medication could be expired, it could be diluted, or it could be just plain fake.” One product receiving attention right now is Hguard, which was being marketed on Amazon with claims that it offers the same benefits of Boehringer Ingelheim’s Heartgard Plus at a fraction of the cost. Its packaging closely resembles Heartgard’s. (Amazon no longer lists Hguard on the site.) Heartgard Plus is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and requires a prescription to purchase. Bach said pet owners should consult with a veterinarian before buying medication online. “Not all of the sellers on Amazon are bad. There are good sellers and there are bad sellers, so you have to have a way to tell the difference.”

Covetrus CEO reflects on first year, discusses future

A year after veterinary software company and supplies distributor Covetrus began operations, its stock price is down 70%, some investors have made fraud claims, and the company’s original CEO has been replaced, Lisa Wogan writes for the VIN News Service. Benjamin Wolin, the new CEO and president, spoke with VIN News Service about the company’s future and the issues it’s seen in its first year. “We are going to focus on our core capabilities of distribution, software and prescription management,” he said. “I think where you’ll see changes is really around our focus and not trying to do too much.” The company in January announced it would sell scil, an animal diagnostics subsidiary. More sales could be in store, but the company also announced it would acquire majority ownership of Distrivet, a Spanish veterinary distributor.

Zoetis acquires another veterinary reference lab

Zoetis has acquired Ethos Diagnostic Science, its third veterinary reference laboratory in less than four months, Today’s Veterinary Business (also published by NAVC) reports. Ethos Diagnostic Science, formerly part of hospital network Ethos Veterinary Health, operates labs in Boston, Denver and San Diego. The three locations serve Ethos hospitals and outside customers, performing hematology, clinical chemistry, urinalysis, microbiology, parasitology, endocrinology, serology, cytology and histology tests. Zoetis has been building its diagnostic business over the past couple years. It made its first reference lab acquisition in October 2019 with the purchase of Phoenix Central Laboratory, followed by ZNLabs.

Iowa senate approves bill adding veterinarians to prescription monitoring program

The Iowa Senate has approved legislation that would allow the state’s veterinarians to access the prescription history of patients, KMA Land reports. The Senate unanimously approved the bill, which adds veterinarians to the list of prescribers who are allowed access to the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program. Created in 2009, the PMP allows prescribers and pharmacists to access information about a patient’s use or abuse of prescription drugs. The Iowa Board of Pharmacy recommended veterinarians be added to the program since pet owners could potentially abuse drugs prescribed to their pets.

WSAVA issues guidance on pets and coronavirus

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association has prepared an advisory document offering guidance and a series of frequently asked questions to help members discuss the coronavirus with concerned pet owners. Veterinarians should make sure owners know it’s highly unlikely they could contract the strain of the virus involved in the current outbreak (known as 2019 n-CoV) from their dog or cat, or that the animal could transmit the virus to people or other animals, according to WSAVA. The advisory also cautions veterinarians against using vaccines for canine enteric coronavirus to protect against the 2019 strain. The strains are different, and there’s no evidence the vaccine will protect dogs from the new one, WSAVA said in its news release.

Pet products account for a rising share of CBD sales, study shows

Hemp-based CBD pet products will account for 3-5% of all hemp CBD sales in the United State by 2025, according to a new report. Nielsen and Headset, a data analytics service provider for the legal cannabis industry, released the report, which showed that the pet sector may yield one of the highest conversion rates within the consumer packaged goods industry (37%), according to the announcement. Analysts found that 74% of CBD buyers have pets, and pet products have generated more than $9.4 million in sales at regulated adult use cannabis retailers in California, Colorado, Nevada and Washington combined. Pet Business has the story.

Dog brain cancer treatments could lead to cure for human condition

Experimental trials for hard-to-treat cancers in dogs could pave the way to treating those cancers in humans, according to new research from The Jackson Laboratory. Scientists at the lab analyzed canine gliomas and found that they closely resemble gliomas in humans. These malignant brain tumors have been very difficult to treat in humans using experimental models, like transplanting patient tumors to mice. But gliomas in dogs are not only similar to those in humans; immune environments in the bodies of the two species are also similar. Immunotherapies for human gliomas have seen low patient response rates. Using those treatments for canine gliomas may help doctors assess their efficacy and improve responses in both dogs and people, the researchers said.

Experts are skeptical about diabetic alert dogs

Diabetic alert dogs are supposed to smell dangerous changes in a person’s blood sugar and alert them with a paw or nudge before it becomes a medical emergency. But the industry is unstandardized and largely unregulated, and the science behind the concept is inconclusive at best, NPR reports. The dog training companies that sell the alert dogs have been criticized and even sued by consumers who say their alert dogs didn’t do what they were supposed to do. In Texas, a group of dog buyers sued a trainer for fraud and won a judgment for $800,000. In Virginia, the attorney general sued a service dog vendor after customer complaints about its dogs, which were marketed as “backed by science” and “100 percent effective.” Much of the problem is the lack of standards: For example, one “certified” alert dog that NPR reports on received his certification from the company that sold him.