Weekly companion animal news: March 6, 2023

Deer ticks are becoming more active in milder winters, raising health concerns

As winters in the Northeast become milder, adult deer ticks are becoming more active at a time they’re usually dormant, causing a bigger public health risk, Connecticut Public Radio reports. “It’s becoming a year-round, check-yourself-for-ticks situation,” said Dr. Toni Lyn Morelli with the Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center. Data from the U.S. Global Change Research Program shows New England temperatures are rising faster than national and international averages. Deer ticks, also known as blacklegged ticks, can pass on Lyme disease, anaplasmosis and other sicknesses.

Pet Poison Helpline analyzes top toxins across the United States and Canada

Chocolate is the No. 1 reported toxin for dogs in every U.S. state and Canadian province, according to an analysis by Pet Poison Helpline. In honor of Pet Poison Prevention Month, the organization analyzed five years of proprietary call data to release the next iteration of its Toxin Trends tool. The online resource aims to help consumers and veterinary professionals research dangerous and potentially deadly toxins in their area. After chocolate, the next most common toxin for dogs in several states is the artificial sweetener Xylitol. In many states, lily poisoning is the most common call about cats, the analysis found.

Missouri legislation would prohibit local bans on pet store animal sales

A Missouri lawmaker has introduced legislation that would prohibit local governments from passing ordinances banning pet stores from selling pets. State Representative Ben Baker, who sponsored the bill, told a Missouri House committee that bans on pet sales are a danger to stores. He cited as evidence a Petland in Illinois that closed. He added that protecting pet stores’ ability to sell these animals will prevent people from turning to the black market to find pets. Baker was supported by a Petland official as well as owners of a Petland store in Joplin, Missouri. Other testifiers challenged the bill, the Columbia Missourian reports.

Virox Technologies and NAVTA launch infection prevention program

The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America is joining Virox Technologies to launch an “Infection Prevention Leader Certificate Program.” The online program is meant to offer animal care professionals essential tools to reduce the risk of spreading infection while fostering a safer workplace. It includes four RACE-approved courses. Once the courses are complete, students will receive a certificate as well as five continuing education credits. Enrollment is free for all animal care professionals.

Veterinarians debate whether it’s time to get rid of noncompete agreements

The Federal Trade Commission in January proposed banning employers from imposing noncompete agreements on their workers and requiring them to rescind existing noncompete clauses. For veterinarians like Lori Rios, this makes sense. She signed an agreement with her first employer saying she wouldn’t take another position within 25 miles for three years after leaving. With few options in Central Virginia, she ended up having to take a job 120 miles from her home for three years. At the same time, some members of the profession support these agreements. For example, some independent practice owners say noncompetes are essential to ensure associates who leave don’t take clients with them, the VIN News Service reports.

FDA issues import alert on xylazine, warning ‘heightened scrutiny’

The FDA issued an import alert last week to clamp down on the illegal importation of xylazine, an animal tranquilizer that’s increasingly showing up in illicit drugs. Under the import alert, “xylazine offered for import is subject to heightened FDA scrutiny, and FDA staff may detain the shipment if it appears to be in violation of the law,” an agency release said. The American College of Emergency Physicians praised the FDA’s announcement. Lawmakers are also considering making xylazine a controlled substance. The AVMA said it is “closely engaged with the relevant congressional offices and committees” that are discussing scheduling it. MedPage Today reports.

Petco Love encourages vaccination during National Pet Vaccination Month

Petco Love is urging pet owners to get their pets vaccinated and stay up-to-date on vaccines during National Pet Vaccination Month. Through its Vaccinated and Loved campaign, the organization encourages animal welfare partners to host free vaccine clinics. Petco Love surveyed pet owners attending these free clinics to assess whether the initiative is meeting its goal to reach pets most in need. Surveyed pet owners indicated only 37% of pets were previously vaccinated and 42% had never seen a private veterinarian.

Rescuers in Turkey search for lost pets after earthquakes

More than three weeks after devastating earthquakes in Turkey and northern Syria, animals were still waiting to be rescued from abandoned and collapsed buildings, Euronews reports. “Thousands of rescued dogs and cats are in urgent need of veterinary care as they cope with injuries, shock, dehydration and malnutrition,” said Kelly Donithan, director of animal response at Humane Society International, whose team is searching for pets in Antakya, Turkey. “People who evacuated are worried for their pets left behind, so wherever possible we locate their apartments and find them,” Donithan said. “It’s clear that for the people who have lost everything, to know that their pet companions are safe means a lot.”