Weekly companion animal news: January 22, 2024

Merck’s latest well-being study indicates progress in the veterinary profession

The veterinary profession seems to be making strides in the way it handles mental health, according to Merck Animal Health’s newly released Veterinary Wellbeing Study. The survey was conducted in collaboration with the AVMA. The study, which examined the well-being and mental health of U.S. veterinarians and support teams, indicated veterinary practices and professionals are taking a more proactive approach toward mental health. According to Merck, this is the first comprehensive study on veterinary well-being following the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, more veterinary professionals are provided access to and are pursuing mental health resources for their well-being, with continued improvements on the horizon, the report found. Almost three-quarters of veterinary professionals expressed personal satisfaction with their career. But they also expressed concern about factors including high exhaustion, work-life balance and a shortage of veterinarians, all of which can contribute to a feeling of burnout.

Study finds barriers to effective nutrition communication between veterinarians and pet owners


Pet owners, veterinarians and pet food makers all aim to ensure companion animals eat complete and balanced diets. Nevertheless, communication among these groups can be complicated. In a study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, researchers identified four main barriers that may hinder communication about nutrition among pet owners and veterinarians. For the study, 18 veterinarians from Maryland, Michigan, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia participated in five study groups conducted via Zoom in 2021. The barriers that emerged included the amount of time veterinarians have to spend with clients; misinformation spread online; pet owners’ resistance to new information; and veterinarians’ confidence in their ability to communicate nutrition knowledge to their clients. The researchers concluded that further research is needed to help break down barriers to nutrition communication in veterinary medicine. Petfood Industry has more.

Veterinary professionals say Cat Friendly Certificate Program has helped reduce patient stress: survey

Nearly 98% of respondents said the American Association of Feline Practitioners’ Cat Friendly Certificate Program helped them reduce stress in feline visits, according to a new survey. Royal Canin U.S. released the results of the survey, which it conducted in partnership with the AAFP. The findings, published in a white paper, collected data from 822 individuals who completed the AAFP Cat Friendly Certificate through Royal Canin-sponsored access. Getting cats to the veterinarian for care is an ongoing challenge in the veterinary profession. The stress of a veterinary visit is an important reason many cats don’t receive regular veterinary care. The AAFP developed the certificate program for all veterinary team members with the intention of improving individual knowledge, skills and best in-clinic practices for feline medicine.

Elanco launches multi-year mission to save puppies from canine parvovirus

Elanco Animal Health has launched a multi-year campaign to save 1 million puppies from unnecessary death from the highly contagious canine parvovirus. The “Defend Puppies. Defeat Parvo.” initiative seeks to conquer a virus that, without timely and aggressive care, has a mortality rate as high as 91%. An estimated 900 dogs, mostly unvaccinated puppies, are diagnosed with parvo daily in the United States, according to Elanco. The company’s research showed only 44% of dog owners know what parvo is, with 20% having no knowledge of the disease. With the introduction of the Defend Puppies. Defeat Parvo. mission, Elanco aims to educate more people about this disease, while increasing veterinarians’ access to Elanco’s canine parvovirus monoclonal antibody.

Pro Plan Veterinary Diets donates $1 million to AVMF REACH program

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets has launched the Pro Plan Veterinary Support Mission, a new initiative that aims to help remove barriers veterinarians often face in practice. As its first act, the brand has donated $1 million to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation REACH program, which offers grants to veterinarians providing immediate pet care when owners experience financial hardship. The REACH (Reaching Every Animal with Charitable Healthcare) program was created by the AVMF to increase assistance to the most vulnerable communities. The program, which received an additional $200,000 in funding from Pro Plan Veterinary Diets in 2023, has grown since its inception in 2022 and now has the resources to assist thousands of animals each year, according to the announcement.

Purina refutes social media claims, says Pro Plan pet food is safe for dogs and cats

Purina was refuting online rumors that have raised safety concerns about its Pro Plan pet food after some social media accounts alleged the pet food maker’s products had sickened hundreds of animals, mostly dogs but also cats, CBS News reports. The company moved to dispel concerns shared in TikTok videos, some of which were viewed by the thousands, as well as in a public Facebook group with nearly 67,000 members called Saving Pets One Pet @ A Time. The posts related accounts of dogs having seizures, diarrhea and vomiting, with some allegedly dying, which the pet owners claimed occurred after the animals ate Purina Pro Plan food. Currently, the FDA doesn’t have a recall listed for any Purina products. Purina has investigated the claims made online and has found no data indicating an issue, according to a company spokesperson.

Hanover College joins list of emerging veterinary programs

Hanover College, a private school of 1,157 students in southern Indiana, is the latest to unveil plans for a veterinary college, bringing the number of emerging veterinary schools in the United States to 12, the VIN News Service reports. If all goes as expected, Indiana will be home to two veterinary schools when Hanover opens in 2026 with at least 80 seats. The other is at Purdue University in West Lafayette. The combined efforts of both programs could more than double the annual graduation count of veterinary students in the state. Purdue, with its usual yearly graduation of 84 students, has recently expanded its teaching hospital and now can accommodate 120 students. Moving forward requires approval from the AVMA Council on Education, the nation’s accrediting authority for veterinary schools. Hanover has initiated the accreditation process by requesting a consultative site visit.

Florida bill would allow xylazine to be administered to animals

A new bill filed in the Florida Legislature would allow xylazine to once again be administered to animals in the state, The Floridian reports. The legislation would remove xylazine animal drug products from the list of Schedule I controlled substances, easing veterinary access to the drug. “This bill seeks to create an exemption for xylazine animal drug products for use by licensed veterinarians from the controlled substances FDA law,” bill sponsor Senator Joe Gruters said at the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice, explaining that his bill would not provide exceptions for human use of the drug. According to the bill’s analysis, a Schedule I drug has a “high potential for abuse” and “no currently accepted medical use.” The AVMA cautioned the federal government against classifying xylazine as such.