Weekly companion animal news: October 10, 2022

PetSmart Charities commits $150,000 to support Hurricane Ian pet rescue efforts

PetSmart Charities announced it will grant at least $150,000 to support efforts to rescue pets affected by Hurricane Ian. Animal welfare organizations located in or responding to the needs of organizations or pets in the nine counties in Florida with federal Major Disaster Declarations can apply. PetSmart expected to grant more than the $150,000 it initially committed as applications come in. More information on grant eligibility is available in the announcement.

Northeast shelters take in Florida cats and dogs as volunteers bring in displaced pets after hurricane

About 100 cats and dogs from Florida were at shelters in the Northeast after being transported out of Fort Lauderdale, CBS News reports. Many of the animals had been in shelters in Southwest Florida, in the path of Hurricane Ian. Volunteers organized the flight to clear space in the shelters to make room for pets displaced by the storm. The animals were taken in by shelters in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Accessibility and affordability are key topics at Veterinary Innovation Summit

Attendees at the recent Veterinary Innovation Summit in Oregon discussed key issues in pet care, including accessibility and affordability. Among the topics up for discussion was the “spectrum of care” principle, in which pet owners have a range of treatment options to choose from for their pet. That way, even if they can’t afford the gold standard, they can still help their pet. Another important topic was how to serve “veterinary deserts”—places where animal doctors are in short supply. Some industry members believe adding a new position to the veterinary care team—similar to a nurse practitioner or physician assistant in human medicine—could help reduce the shortage of veterinary care. KOIN reports.

Trupanion partners with Canadian Kennel Club to offer immediate insurance coverage for new litters

Trupanion is partnering with the Canadian Kennel Club, providing immediate insurance coverage for new litters “without breed restrictions or exclusions which can often be the norm among other providers,” according to the announcement. Pet owners who adopt through the Canadian Kennel Club have access to Trupanion’s unlimited coverage with no payout limits for the life of the pet, the company said.

Embark Veterinary launches dog age test

Embark Veterinary has launched a test that analyzes a dog’s DNA to determine its age. “The ultimate goal of the Age Test is to empower dog owners with the knowledge they need to provide personalized pet care,” according to the announcement. During the early access phase of the product, 40% of customers reported taking some action and 31% reported scheduling a visit with their veterinarian as a result of learning their dog’s age, the company said.

Commentary: To prevent rabies in people, focus on vaccinating dogs

Rabies kills almost 60,000 people a year, but it could be easily prevented if public health efforts focused on keeping dogs from getting infected, writes Terence Scott, technical lead at the Global Alliance for Rabies Control. “Investing in canine vaccination as a public health policy is the cornerstone of rabies control,” Scott says. For example, a dog vaccination program in the state of Goa in India eliminated human rabies cases and reduced canine cases by 92%. Efforts like this, in addition to community education, can lead to reduced infection rates in dogs and encourage pet vaccinations, ultimately helping save human lives, Scott writes in STAT.

Virtual reality program aims to help people reduce their fear of dogs

A group of U.K. researchers has developed a virtual reality program meant to help people reduce their fear of dogs by learning to detect potentially aggressive behavior in the animals. “The great thing about virtual reality is it can be highly controlled,” said study co-author James Oxley, an animal researcher at the University of Liverpool. “If an individual has a phobia of a dog, it can be slowly introduced and adapted based on the individual, including what particular dog behaviors frighten the person.” The study team tested the program—called DAVE, or Dog-Assisted Virtual Environment—on 16 University of Liverpool students, who each spent five minutes in a virtual room with a non-aggressive or aggressive dog. On average, participants went closer to the non-aggressive dog than the aggressive one. Three people were “bitten” by the aggressive one, which they felt as a vibration in their handset. The study was published in PLoS ONE. The Daily Beast reports.

Midmark announces partnership with SignalPET

Midmark announced a partnership with SignalPET, creator of a software that helps veterinarians detect common pathologies on animal dental X-rays. Midmark dental imaging users can access a special trial offer to use SignalPET’s SignalSMILE technology during the partnership. According to the announcement, using SignalPET’s software will help veterinarians improve diagnostic accuracy and expedite treatment plans for better patient outcomes.