Weekly companion animal news: January 11, 2021

Merck Animal Health partners with The Street Dog Coalition

Merck Animal Health announced a partnership with The Street Dog Coalition to provide medications, vaccines and treatments for pets of people experiencing homelessness. Currently present in more than 50 U.S. cities, The Street Dog Coalition is a nonprofit organization that offers free basic veterinary care to pets of homeless individuals by taking a One Health approach to street medicine, according to the announcement. Through the partnership, Merck will support The Street Dog Coalition’s volunteer team of veterinarians, veterinary students, practice managers and technicians by donating a yearlong supply of its portfolio of vaccines and medications.

Airlines change rules for emotional support animals

American Airlines said it would no longer allow emotional support animals on flights beginning January 11, CNN reports. The change follows the new Department of Transportation guidelines saying airlines aren’t required to treat emotional support animals as service animals. Animals that previously traveled as emotional support animals may travel as carry-on or cargo pets, the airline said. This came after Alaska Airlines said it was the first major airline to publicly change its animal policy under the new guidelines.

Companies team up on feline COVID-19 vaccine

Two tiny biotech companies—one in Italy and the other in New York—are working together on a COVID-19 vaccine for cats that could prevent reinfection from animals back to humans, Forbes reports. The vaccine will consist of two doses and will enter clinical trials on cats this month in New York. It’s developed by Italian startup Takis Biotech’s veterinary arm, EvviVax, in partnership with New York-based Applied DNA Sciences. It’s based on the same technology used for Takis’ human COVID-19 vaccine, currently in development, using fragments of DNA to induce an immune response against the virus. The trials are expected to last six months, with a goal of receiving approval from USDA by the summer. (Experts recently told Science magazine they don’t think there’s an urgent need for a pet vaccine now.)

TEEF developer partners with Veterinary Hospitals Association

Primal Health announced a new partnership with the Veterinary Hospitals Association. Primal Health developed TEEF dental products for pets. The water supplement “targets the root cause of gum disease and bad breath,” according to the company. VHA will distribute TEEF for Life products in their warehouse for veterinary practice members to purchase for their hospitals.

New disinfection system could help practices operate safely during pandemic

Sterilize with Light, a new disinfection system combining germicidal UV light and hypochlorous acid, aims to help veterinary practices prevent COVID-19 infections and operate safely during the pandemic. According to Sterilize with Light, the system effectively kills more than 99% of viruses and bacteria, including the coronavirus. The company says it’s also effective against veterinary-specific pathogens like Bordetella, parvovirus, ringworm, distemper and calicivirus. “If veterinary staff members get exposed or test positive for COVID-19, we have to close the practice and quarantine. This has a huge impact on our practice,” said Florida practice owner Greg Winter. “Having this option reduces that risk.”

New SoundByte: ProZinc from Boehringer Ingelheim

ProZinc (protamine zinc recombinant human insulin) is approved for once-a-day diabetes treatment in dogs and twice-a-day treatment for cats. According to manufacturer Boehringer Ingelheim, research has confirmed ProZinc’s effectiveness in once-a-day treatment for dogs. Diabetic control with the product was attained at similar rates in both naive and previously insulin-treated canine populations. More information is available in the SoundByte from Veterinary Advantage.

AVMA to consider dues break to attract new veterinarians

Ten state veterinary medical associations are proposing that the AVMA House of Delegates alter the association’s dues structure so newer graduates receive a break on the cost of membership. Among the reasons is that graduates often face substantial student debt. A shrinking proportion of veterinarians belong to the AVMA, even as total membership in the professional group has reached a record high of 96,500, the VIN News Service reports.

AVMA COE to examine diversity and inclusion language in accreditation standards

The AVMA Council on Education has formed a new working group focused on diversity and inclusion. The group is charged with identifying areas for improvement in the diversity and inclusion language within the COE Standards of Accreditation, benchmarking the standards to other health professional programs, and assessing the potential for including specific language regarding pipeline programs. The working group is soliciting comments from stakeholders and the public through January 22, 2021, regarding the current language within the standards related to diversity, equity and inclusion. More information is in the announcement from the AVMA.