Weekly companion animal news: February 20, 2023

Under inflation pressure, pet owners cut back on everything from pet food to veterinary care

With pet food costs up 15% year-over-year and pet products up 12%, according to the January consumer price index, pet owners are cutting back on certain spending. Pet toy purchases are down 16% year-over-year as of February, according to a Jefferies Group analysis of NielsenIQ data, and sales of pet housing are down 21%. About half the 1,000 pet owners surveyed by consumer insights platform Zappi for The Wall Street Journal this month actively took steps to reduce pet care costs in the past year, like skipping or delaying a veterinary visit or routine medication, grooming their pet themselves or even giving their pet away.

New York dogs are getting sick from discarded weed

With marijuana widely available in New York City after it was legalized in 2021, veterinarians say they’ve noticed a steady increase in the number of cases of dogs accidentally eating cannabis products. Doctors who used to see a case a month say they now see several a week. Pet owners say their dogs are finding more used or dropped items on the streets and sidewalks during walks. Most dogs recover, but the symptoms can be scary, including loss of balance and difficulty walking, nausea, sleepiness and even hallucinations, The New York Times reports.

Volition’s Nu.Q Vet Cancer Test available to veterinarians for pre-order through Heska

VolitionRx Limited announced its Nu.Q Vet Cancer Test is now available for pre-order to veterinarians at the point of care through Heska Corporation. The product will operate on Heska’s proprietary Element i+ Immunodiagnostic Analyzer.

New California veterinary surgery center aims to mitigate case overload

A new veterinary surgery center in the Tri-Valley region of California will be able to perform up to 140 spay-neuter procedures per week, which officials say will support adoption and pet overpopulation response. Veterinarians are currently unable to accommodate the high caseload, CBS reports, with the state experiencing a backlog of animal patients and a shortage of veterinary care. The new Phil Sholz Veterinary Surgery Center is a project by the Valley Humane Society.

Alaska bill would exempt veterinarians from opioid reporting program

A bill in the Alaska legislature would exempt the state’s veterinarians from having to participate in Alaska’s prescription drug monitoring program. The program oversees the prescribing of federally controlled Schedule II-IV substances. Meant to prevent abuse of dangerous drugs, particularly opioids, it requires weekly reporting from providers. While opponents to the bill have worried about creating a loophole that allows easier access to dangerous drugs for people with substance use disorders, the bill’s sponsor, state Representative Justin Ruffridge, said less than 0.3% of all opioid prescriptions come from veterinarians. The Peninsula Clarion reports.

Screening test checks brachycephalic dogs

The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals has licensed a method of measuring brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome in dogs in the United States and Canada. The Respiratory Function Grading Scheme, conducted by a specially trained veterinarian, consists of four parts: a short health survey, a brief physical examination while the dog is calm, a brisk three-minute walk, and a post-exercise auscultation. Results range from 0 to 3. Dogs at grade 0 are free of respiratory issues, while grade-3 dogs show severe signs of brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome and should receive veterinary treatment, according to fellow NAVC publication Today’s Veterinary Business.

Opinion: To keep independent veterinary clinics in business, look to the dental industry’s efforts

Veterinarian Mark Helfat believes small independently owned veterinary clinics are the “soul” of the profession, and he wants them to stay in business and avoid being purchased by corporate buyers. As prospective sellers find it increasingly difficult to get new independent buyers, veterinary medicine may be able to look to dentistry for a model to follow, Helfat says. The American Dental Association’s ADA Practice Transitions initiative has a step-by-step process to connect buyers and sellers, with advisers provided by the association. The AVMA could study the ADA initiative and create a counterpart for veterinary practice owners, Helfat writes for the VIN News Service.

KC Animal Health Corridor seeks early-stage companies to showcase at this year’s summit

The KC Animal Health Corridor is accepting applications for the 2023 Animal Health Summit taking place August 28-29. The summit is an opportunity for early-stage companies in the animal health sector to present their vision and business plan to potential investors. The organization is looking for companies to showcase that are seeking $500,000 to $20 million in funding or strategic partnerships to advance their technology; and revenue projections of $20 million within five to seven years. Applications are due April 3.