Weekly companion animal news: February 6, 2023

The U.S. pet sector had an economic impact of $260 billion in 2021, analysis shows

The pet sector contributed $260.5 billion directly and indirectly to the U.S. economy in 2021, up from $221 billion in 2015, according to data shared last week at the Pet Industry Leadership Summit. The pet sector made a net contribution of $174.67 billion to the 2021 annual gross domestic product, according to the analysis from the Pet Advocacy Network. U.S. pet owners spent most on pet food and treats, which accounted for $50 billion of the $93.95 billion spent directly on pets in 2021. The study was sponsored by the Pet Advocacy Network, the American Pet Products Association, the Pet Industry Distributors Association and the World Pet Association.

Nonprofit brings health screening test for brachycephalic dog breeds to the United States

An animal welfare nonprofit is bringing a tool from the United Kingdom to the United States to help prevent brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome in dogs. The University of Cambridge and the U.K.-based Kennel Club developed the Respiratory Function Grading Scheme to measure the severity of brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome and help make a clinical diagnosis. Now the U.S.-based Orthopedic Foundation for Animals has licensed the tool for use in the United States and Canada, the AVMA reports.

Nebraska bill would set legal standards for pet health insurance

A proposed bill in the Nebraska legislature would establish a legal framework for pet insurance policies and consumer protections in the state, the Nebraska Examiner reports. According to the Nebraska Examiner, the bill’s consumer protections mirror those for health insurance policies, including necessary disclosures on whether certain services are excluded from coverage, whether there are waiting periods, what the policy’s benefit schedule is and how a pet’s preexisting conditions could affect its insurance. It would also set training requirements for insurance providers.

California considers proposal to expand role of veterinary technicians

The California Veterinary Medical Board recently began considering a proposal by the state’s Veterinary Medical Association to expand the role of registered veterinary technicians. The proposed rule would allow technicians “to act as agents of the veterinarian to establish a veterinary-client-patient relationship (VCPR) for the purposes of vaccines and parasite preventives,” according to the American Animal Hospital Association. Supporters say this could help mitigate barriers to care for pet owners in areas where there’s little veterinarian availability. The path to approval of veterinary regulations generally takes years.

Five pet care startups win Purina’s Pet Care Innovation Prize

Five pet care startups from across the United States and Canada have been selected as the 2023 winners of the seventh annual Pet Care Innovation Prize by Purina. Among the winners are a pet age test, an app that uses veterinary pain scales to measure how cats are feeling and a rapid screening test to detect periodontal disease in dogs and cats.

Lawmakers consider making xylazine a controlled substance

As lawmakers consider making xylazine a controlled substance, the AVMA wants to ensure veterinarians still have access to the drug for their patients. The drug is causing increasing deaths in people as it’s mixed with fentanyl and other narcotics. Among other things, the AVMA aims to educate members of Congress about xylazine’s use in cattle, horses and many zoo and wildlife species.

Pet Food Institute launches video series to educate cat and dog owners on nutrition

The Pet Food Institute has launched a video series that aims to educate consumers on achieving and maintaining an ideal body condition for their dogs and cats through sound nutrition. The series, called “Vet Talks,” “addresses some of the most common and vital questions surrounding pet food labels, ingredients, nutrients and feeding guidelines,” according to the announcement.

FDA says a ‘new regulatory pathway’ is needed for CBD, including in animal food

FDA officials say a “new regulatory pathway” for CBD will be necessary to balance consumer demand with safety concerns. The agency said it “is prepared to work with Congress on this matter.” Regarding CBD in animal food, the agency noted that “because it is not apparent how CBD products could meet the safety standard for substances in animal food, we also do not intend to pursue rulemaking allowing the use of CBD in animal food. A new regulatory pathway could provide access and oversight for certain CBD-containing products for animals.”