Weekly companion animal news: May 18, 2020

Clinics see business improvements as May begins

Two companies monitoring the financial performance of U.S. veterinary hospitals are seeing signs of improvement as May starts, Today’s Veterinary Business (also published by NAVC) reports. iVET360 found that revenue on Wednesday, May 6 at 786 veterinary clinics was 7.2% higher than on the same weekday one year earlier. While the number of transactions was down 2%, the hospitals reported 23.5% more new clients and a 9.4% increase in the average transaction charge. Revenue on the previous day was also higher. The increase in new clients is largely tied to increased pet adoptions. VetSuccess also found positive numbers: Revenue for the week of April 30 to May 6 rose 6.9% from last year, while transactions (invoices) fell 2.2%.

Merck offers up to $1,000 per sick pet for care after missed vaccinations


Merck Animal Health has launched a program to help avoid complications from missed vaccinations and preventive care during the pandemic. Merck’s COVID-19 Nobivac Relief Plan will cover the cost of diagnostics and treatment up to $1,000 if a dog or cat develops a disease as a result of missing its booster dose during the pandemic, Today’s Veterinary Practice (also published by NAVC) reports. Christine Royal, executive director of veterinary professional services at Merck, said it’s important that veterinary professionals contact their territory manager or Merck’s pharmacovigilance team to make sure they can benefit. “The No. 1 thing that they need to keep in mind is if they have questions, simply call us,” Royal said.

New grant opportunity available for technicians, assistants to receive COVID-19 aid

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation is accepting applications for a new grant program supporting veterinary technicians and assistants experiencing financial hardships because of the pandemic. The program will provide eligible veterinary technicians and assistants a one-time $500 grant to help meet immediate needs, available on a first come, first served basis. The program is funded by $200,000 in donations from Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Zoetis and the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America.

Cats with no symptoms spread coronavirus to other cats in lab test

Cats can spread the new coronavirus to other cats even when they don’t show symptoms, a new lab experiment suggests. Scientists who led the research say it demonstrates the need to examine whether the virus can spread from people to cats to people again, the Associated Press reports. The AVMA has said that just because an animal can be deliberately infected in a lab “does not mean that it will be easily infected with that same virus under natural conditions.” The scientists took the virus from a human patient and infected three cats with it. Each cat was then housed with another cat without the infection. Within five days, the virus was found in all three of the newly exposed animals. None of the six cats ever showed symptoms.

Virbac unveils Easotic ear infection fighter

Virbac has released a prescription medication for the topical treatment of canine otitis externa, Today’s Veterinary Business reports. Easotic (hydrocortisone aceponate, miconazole nitrate, gentamicin sulfate) Otic Suspension for Dogs is dispensed through a pump applicator. One squeeze releases 1 milliliter of medication, administered once a day for five days, according to Virbac. “Hydrocortisone aceponate is unique in the way it is transformed, so that once it does get down to the bloodstream, it’s mostly hydrocortisone, which I feel much safer about using, especially in small patients,” said Florida veterinary dermatologist Christina Restrepo, speaking on behalf of Virbac. “At the epithelium level, it’s acting as a powerful anti-inflammatory, which is exactly what we need.”

Merck to acquire U.S. rights to Sentinel from Virbac

Merck Animal Health and Virbac announced an agreement under which Merck will acquire the U.S. rights to Sentinel Flavor Tabs and Sentinel Spectrum Chews in Virbac’s companion animal category. Merck will make a cash payment of about $400 million to acquire the products at closing of the acquisition. The Sentinel products are used to control common intestinal parasites, and will complement the Bravecto line, Merck’s extended duration flea and tick protection products. According to the announcement, the two product lines together will cover the seven common harmful parasites that affect dogs by preventing ticks and multiple stages of the flea lifecycle, including eggs and adult fleas, as well as treating and controlling all common intestinal parasites, including roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms, and preventing heartworm disease.

Covetrus adds new members to senior leadership team

Covetrus announced three new members will join its senior leadership team. Matthew Foulston will become Covetrus’ global chief financial officer effective June 1. Matthew Malenfant will be president for Covetrus’ North American distribution business, effective May 18. And Steve Palmucci joined the company May 4 as global chief information officer. Read the full announcement here.

Dogs get difficult when they reach adolescence, just like human teenagers: study

Adolescent dogs experience a hypersensitive period at the onset of puberty that makes them act out just like human teenagers, a new study shows. “There is abundant folk knowledge…that the behavior of adolescents differs from younger or older dogs,” said Barbara Smuts, a University of Michigan behavioral ecologist. She said this “very welcome” study is the first to back up that anecdotal evidence. While puppies often form bonds with humans, “owners feel like they’re failing when their puppies reach adolescence,” about 8 months for most dogs, said Lucy Asher, lead author of the new study. The similarity between adolescent dogs and humans could give researchers a new model to study puberty in humans. Science magazine has the story.