Weekly companion animal news: November 7, 2022

Short on staff, some veterinary emergency rooms are closing and cutting hours

Emergency veterinary care facilities in Seattle are short on staff, leading some to close or cut their hours, a veterinary technician told KIRO 7. The technician, Rae Thompson, noted staffing was a problem even before the pandemic. “Our clinic often has six- to seven-hour wait times,” she said. Thompson recommended pet owners keep a first aid kit in their home and possibly get trained in pet first aid. Beth Guerra and Laurie Wieringa, who started Arrow Animal Urgent Care, recommended pet owners make necessary veterinary appointments even if they can’t get into the clinic right away; they can visit urgent care in the meantime if the issue becomes pressing before the appointment. They also noted new pet owners should establish relationships with veterinarians as soon as possible, since many clinics aren’t taking on new clients.

U.S. pet ownership rates have plateaued, but spending is still high: Packaged Facts

Pet ownership rates in the United States have plateaued in the wake of the pandemic, a new report from Packaged Facts shows. Fifty-two percent of U.S. households own pets as of 2022, down from 54% in 2018, the report found, for a total of 68 million pet-owning households. “A pet adoption bump did occur in response to the sudden stay-at-home/work-from-home dynamics of this COVID-19 era,” Packaged Facts says. “Nonetheless, the peak years of pet population gains occurred in the middle of the past decade.” Still, there’s undoubtedly been a pandemic-fueled spike in pet care spending, with growth in most pet market sectors in 2020 and a nearly 14% sales jump in 2021 to $123 million, according to Packaged Facts.

Spectrum of care should be ‘the standard way to practice,’ veterinarian says

Pet owners can’t always afford the “gold standard” of care for their pet. But veterinarians can practice a spectrum of care approach to ensure that even if the most extensive care option isn’t possible, the owner can still do something, Dr. Kate Boatright writes for the American Animal Hospital Association. “When practicing a spectrum of care, it is essential that we recognize that a client who chooses a more conservative option does not love their pet any less than the one who chooses the gold standard,” Boatright says. She notes that students aren’t often exposed to this concept in veterinary school, and even established veterinary teams can unintentionally create a judgmental atmosphere when pet owners choose what has traditionally been considered “substandard care.” “As a profession, we must make spectrum of care the standard way to practice so we can help the greatest number of pets and pet families,” Boatright writes.

Cornell launches Certificate in Veterinary Business and Management

The Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine has launched a Certificate in Veterinary Business and Management, consisting of eight elective courses in six focus areas: financial literacy, professional development, financial management, organizational management, personal development and entrepreneurship. After meeting those requirements, eligible students will complete a capstone experience to apply their business and management knowledge to a real-world veterinary project.

Nationwide raises money for Pet Cancer Awareness Month

November is National Pet Cancer Awareness Month, and Nationwide is holding a virtual pet walk to raise money for treatment research. Nationwide pet insurance members submitted claims for $53 million for cancer diagnosis and treatment in 2021, making cancer-related conditions one of the most common types of medical claims. “Cancer is the diagnosis we most fear for our pets,” said Dr. Jules Benson, Nationwide’s chief veterinary officer. “But as in human medicine, advances in veterinary care mean many diagnosed pets can maintain a good quality of life thanks to early detection and treatment options.”

As the pet care industry grows, so does the business of pet death care

As the U.S. pet care industry grows, so does the “pet death care” industry—things like funeral homes and memorial services. “I think the need has always been there,” but pet owners are pushing for these services more lately, Coleen Ellis, a consultant at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Maryland, told The Baltimore Sun. “I think it’s gotten to a point where a lot of people have said, ‘I did all these things while they were alive. I want to make sure their final moments here, their final walk is exactly like they lived.’” A growing number of pet owners plan to purchase something to memorialize their pet when it dies, according to the American Pet Products Association’s National Pet Owners Survey. For most owners, this would be an urn for ashes or a memorial stone.

Texas duo brings veterinary care to clients’ homes, offering what they say is a much-needed service

An East Texas couple has been providing in-home veterinary care for the past three years, bringing what they say is a valuable but little-offered service to their clients. “We realized there was a need for at-home care for pets,” Dr. Whitney Jordan Wilcox, who started No Place Like Home Vet Care in 2019 with her husband, told the Longview News-Journal. “Large animal mobile vets have existed for years, but none catered to small animals and exotics.” She added that it’s difficult for many clients to get to veterinary offices, whether because of a lack of transportation or time or their pet has anxiety at the clinic. The team mostly provides preventive care such as annual exams, vaccines and parasite testing and treatment. They offer mild illness treatment as well as end-of-life care for established clients.

Heska begins distribution of VolitionRx’s Nu.Q Vet Cancer Screening Test in the United States

VolitionRx Limited has launched its Nu.Q Vet Cancer Screening Test across the United States, with plans for a Europe launch in the coming weeks. The product, used to detect cancer in dogs, is distributed by Heska through its reference laboratories. The Nu.Q test “is an ideal fit within Heska’s expanding portfolio of best-in-class solutions,” said Steve Eyl, Heska’s chief commercial officer and president of scil animal company. “This is an important achievement in our transformative work together as we move towards the launch of our flagship point-of-care solution anticipated in 2023.”