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Weekly companion animal news: July 26, 2021

Mars Veterinary Health announces $500 million investment in new employee benefits

Mars Veterinary Health North America said it will spend $500 million to improve employee pay, benefits, diversity and career opportunities across its brands, including Banfield, VCA and BluePearl animal hospitals, as well as Antech diagnostic laboratories. The initiative calls for minimum hourly pay of $15 by the end of 2022, student debt relief and up to 80 more hours of paid sick leave for employees affected by COVID-19, Today’s Veterinary Business reports.

PetCure Oncology launches telehealth service to connect veterinarians with oncologists


PetCure Oncology has launched an online platform that allows veterinarians to connect with radiation oncologists to provide comprehensive care for veterinary cancer patients. The free tool will provide doctors with immediate access to board-certified radiation oncologists, allowing practices to offer oncology consultation services in-house, according to the company. The platform offers veterinarians the opportunity to live-chat with a radiation oncologist, schedule a client telehealth visit and submit imaging for oncologist review.

New SoundByte: PetIQ Capstar

Capstar (nitenpyram) is approved to treat fleas orally in dogs and cats. It can be used to treat dogs, puppies, cats and kittens that weigh at least 2 pounds and are 4 weeks or older. According to manufacturer PetIQ, it’s ideal for flea-infested animals that fall outside the weight and age range of other monthly oral medications. More information is available in the SoundByte from Veterinary Advantage.

FDA resource will provide recent updates on safety-related animal drug label changes

The FDA has launched a new webpage tracking recent safety-related labeling changes for animal drugs. When adverse events are reported or safety concerns are identified for an animal drug, the FDA may work with the sponsor to revise the labeling to reflect the information. But there’s often a lag between approval of labeling changes and when the new labels become available in the marketplace. This webpage will be updated monthly with new FDA-approved drug label changes, allowing users to find recent safety-related labeling changes. The information will be available on the site for two years after it’s first listed.

Survey finds international differences in who buys grain-free pet foods

Pet owners in North America and Europe in a recent survey reported different reasons for buying grain-free pet foods, indicating different—but not misleading—marketing methods may be more effective in different places. The survey, which had nearly 3,300 respondents, showed that those less likely to select “no-grain” pet food were male, lived in France and didn’t rotate their dog’s diet to provide variety. Those more likely to select no-grain pet food believed their dog has a food allergy, didn’t try to include grains in their own diet and got pet food information online or from pet store staff. “I think there is an urgent need for science-based communication between pet food companies and veterinarians and consumers,” said Sydney Banton, a graduate research assistant at the University of Guelph and the research lead. Banton noted there’s no data to suggest grains are detrimental to dogs’ health, nor is there a clear link between grain-free diets and canine dilated cardiomyopathy. Petfood Industry has more.

American Association of Feline Practitioners will hold conference in-person this fall

The American Association of Feline Practitioners will hold its annual conference in-person this year, with an option for virtual attendance for the first time as well. The event, titled “Feline Anesthesia, Analgesia, & Surgery,” takes place at the Phoenix Convention Center from September 30 to October 3. In-person and virtual attendees will have access to live-streamed and on-demand sessions until June 30, 2022. Key topics planned to be covered at the conference include anesthesia for senior cats, acute and chronic pain management, orthopedic examination, osteoarthritis pain, and surgery techniques and recommendations.

Uncommon test proves most effective in study of Bartonella diagnostics

A relatively uncommon diagnostic test was the most accurate way of detecting Bartonella in dogs in a recent study, while more common methods proved less effective. Researchers found that performing a quantitative polymerase chain reaction test on fresh-frozen tissue biopsy samples showed the highest accuracy of the six methods they studied, with high sensitivity and specificity. Blood qPCR and indirect fluorescent antibody tests, which are commonly used by veterinarians to diagnose Bartonella, had extremely low sensitivity with only moderate specificity. This raises the risk of false negatives, researchers say. Clinical manifestations of Bartonella infection in dogs are still under investigation. The most well-described presentation in dogs is endocarditis, an infection of a heart valve. Phys.org has the announcement.

Kennel cough spike reported in Berkshires

Veterinarians in the Berkshires, Massachusetts, have recently reported a spike in canine infectious tracheobronchitis, or kennel cough, The Berkshire Eagle reports. “The last six to eight weeks, we were having two to three dogs a day with upper respiratory problems, and I think some were kennel cough and some were canine influenza,” said Dr. John Reynolds, owner of Pittsfield Veterinary Hospital. Renee Dodds, the owner of the dog day care center Love Us and Leave Us, said new interactions among dogs after being isolated during the pandemic could be part of the reason kennel cough is increasing. “So many dogs haven’t had interaction with other dogs for months,” Dodds said. “If you are planning to get your dog vaccinated, do it now so [the vaccine] can get into their system.”