Weekly companion animal news: November 6, 2023

U.S. pet ownership down in 2022: APPA

Sixty-six percent of U.S. households last year owned a pet, according to the 2023-2024 American Pet Products Association National Pet Owners Survey. The survey recorded approximately 86.9 million households with a companion animal. These figures represent a decline from 70% of households reported in the 2021-2022 APPA survey. Dogs remained the most popular pet in the United States in the latest survey, with nearly 20 million more households owning dogs than cats. Cats were the second most frequently kept companion animals. APPA found that U.S. pet owners last year spent $136.8 billion on their pets. The association forecast that pet expenditures will reach $143.6 billion this year. Petfood Industry has more.

Veterinary salaries struggle to keep up with inflation: AVMA

Mean veterinarian income saw a slight decline when accounting for inflation, going from $147,787 in 2021 to $146,782 in 2022, the AVMA reports. The annual inflation rate for the United States was 6.5% last year. Unlike new veterinarians, overall veterinary incomes haven’t quite caught up to prerecession levels, said Charlotte McKay, AVMA associate director for statistical and geospatial analysis and senior economist. However, competition in the market for veterinarians and inflation have contributed to a rise in salaries, she said during the annual AVMA Business & Economic Forum, held virtually October 24-25. Of course, variation exists across different practice types and between owners and associates. For example, the lowest mean salary in 2022 among all private practice types was for food animal associate veterinarians at $95,000; however, food animal veterinarian owners had the highest mean salary at $225,000.

Dog sees surprisingly quick turnaround after taking new parvo treatment

PAWS Chicago has administered a new treatment—Elanco’s Canine Parvovirus Monoclonal—to save three lives in a fraction of the time of traditional treatments. PAWS Chicago is reportedly the only city shelter to date that has received the new parvovirus treatment. The inaugural patient was a 3-month-old puppy that was just one hour from being euthanized. He had tested positive for parvovirus, a deadly disease so contagious that it’s often a death sentence. The PAWS Chicago medical team was astounded when he required a feeding tube for only a day and a half and bounced out of critical condition in just three days, quickly playing and running again. Typically, parvo dogs are critical for 7-14 days with traditional treatments. PAWS Chicago’s ability to treat parvo-positive dogs quickly and free up medical staff time will mean the organization can dedicate resources to other pets in need, according to the announcement.

New veterinary pharmacy certificate available

The Board of Pharmacy Technician Specialties announced it’s launching a Veterinary Pharmacy Certificate, dvm360 reports. The new specialized credential will reportedly be the first of its kind to recognize technicians who are providing animal pharmaceutical care. According to a release, candidates must be an active certified pharmacy technician through either the National Healthcare Association or the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board. They must also have completed 1,000 hours of supervised pharmacy experience related to veterinary prescriptions or the BPTS-recognized Training Program for Veterinary Pharmacy. Candidates will need to take an online 90-minute exam. Once a candidate passes the exam, there is no requirement for it to be renewed.

Worker cooperatives emerge as a counter to veterinary consolidation

When Dr. John Dally began thinking about retiring and selling the general practice he co-founded in southern Wisconsin 20 years ago, he saw two options: sell to a corporate consolidator or shut it down. When a one-doctor practice down the road nearly closed because the retiring owner couldn’t find a purchaser, Dally and his other two co-owners agreed to buy that practice and keep the doors open. The move enlarged their existing operation and made it an attractive acquisition target. But the idea of selling to a corporation didn’t sit right. Dally considered converting the two-practice business to a worker cooperative. With assistance from the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives and from other consultants, the majority of employees and the three former owners took equal and joint ownership of what is now called Cooperative Veterinary Care. The move comes as some in the profession seek new models of independent ownership, the VIN News Service reports.

Heart + Paw takes a new approach to veterinary technician compensation

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that the average annual wage for veterinary technologists and technicians, both certified and non-certified, in the United States was $40,770 in 2022. To retain and support these professionals, the industry must explore innovative approaches to increase both their utilization and compensation, writes certified veterinary technician Mary Schwartz. Veterinary and pet care provider Heart + Paw, where Schwartz is a team member, is providing an opportunity for CrVTs to earn additional income when they administer qualifying veterinary technician appointment services, excluding prescriptions, rabies vaccines and other services that require veterinarian interpretation or involvement. As the demand for veterinary services continues to grow, it is crucial to recognize and reward the efforts of veterinary technicians, Schwartz writes in dvm360.

England and Wales prepare for American XL bully dog ban

American XL bully dogs will be added to the list of banned breeds in England and Wales beginning December 31. It will become illegal to breed, sell, advertise, exchange, gift, rehome, abandon or allow to stray XL bully dogs in either country. The dogs will have to be kept on a leash and be muzzled in public. Owners who wish to keep their dogs will have until the end of January to register them. Beginning February 1, 2024, it will become illegal to own an XL bully dog if it isn’t registered on the index of exempted dogs, and the animals will be subject to restrictions, including having to be microchipped and neutered. Owners who fail to comply could face a criminal record and an unlimited fine, and their dog could be seized, The Guardian reports.

Rabbit hemorrhagic disease vaccine gets conditional USDA approval

Medgene, an animal health company that produces highly targeted platform vaccines, has been granted a Conditional Use License by the USDA’s Center for Veterinary Biologics to further manufacture and distribute its vaccine targeted at rabbit hemorrhagic disease, or RHDV2. Once contracted, RHDV2 is usually fatal and affects wild and domestic rabbit populations. RHDV2’s virulence and rapid spread prompted the USDA-CVB to grant Medgene’s vaccine emergency use authorization following successful testing for reasonable expectation of safety and efficacy in 2021. Additional tests further measuring the vaccine’s safety, efficacy and duration of immunity have continued, according to the company’s announcement.