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Weekly companion animal news: October 11, 2021

Online toolkit helps veterinarians educate clients on pet nutrition

A new online resource from the Purina Institute offers tools to help veterinarians educate clients on pet nutrition. The toolkit, called CentreSquare, offers staff training videos, nutrition briefs, nutrition conversation starters and client handouts. “Even before the pandemic, the reality was that while four out of five pet owners said they wanted pet nutrition advice from their veterinarians, only one in five veterinarians was proactively discussing nutrition with clients,” said Dr. Shelly Adrian, U.S. Ambassador for the Purina Institute. CentreSquare users can filter nutrition information by species, life stage, material format, and length of read or watch time. The toolkit includes training resources to help staff members and students transitioning to a clinic environment, and the information is presented in formats that are easy to share with pet owners, according to the announcement from the Purina Institute.

With the rise of marijuana legalization, dog poisonings are up


Cases of canine consumption of cannabis are growing as more states legalize the drug, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The group’s poison hotline has seen an increase in reports of marijuana toxicity in dogs coinciding with the increase in legalization. Between 2017 and 2020, national call volume for cannabis ingestion rose from 1,436 to 3,923 cases, said Tina Wismer, a veterinarian and senior director of the ASPCA Poison Control Center. In California, where recreational marijuana was legalized in 2016, call numbers grew 276% between 2016 and 2020. In Colorado, the number of calls has increased 11-fold since marijuana was legalized in 2012. Taking a dose intended for humans could be dangerous for dogs. And if a dog finds the drug outside, it may be laced with other dangerous chemicals, veterinarians said. The Los Angeles Times reports.

Pet insurers are covering the cost of therapy for lonely dogs

Pet insurers are increasingly covering claims for treatment of distressed dogs whose owners are returning to work, analysis shows. Forty-four percent of dog insurance policies now include full coverage for behavior compared to 30% in February of 2020, according to market analyst Defaqto. This means insurers would cover the cost of behavioral therapy recommended by a veterinarian to treat an animal’s emotional distress, such as that due to separation. BBC News reports.

Researchers say a new precision treatment could help treat oral cancer in cats

Researchers say a new therapy shows promise treating oral squamous cell carcinoma, the most common oral cancer in cats. The scientists at Utrecht University in the Netherlands are treating the disease with nanobody-targeted photodynamic therapy, which uses light and a tumor cell-targeted, light-sensitive chemical to precisely trigger cancer cell death, according to Morris Animal Foundation, which funded the research. “There is a great need for treatments of this specific type of cancer,” said Dr. Sabrina Santos Oliveira, associate professor at Utrecht University. “Nanobody-targeted photodynamic therapy could provide a new opportunity for treating cats with this cancer.”

Veterinarians aren’t ready for telemedicine, but they should be, Oregon animal doctor says

Despite telemedicine’s potential to advance veterinary medicine, many doctors don’t seem ready to try it, according to a presentation at this summer’s AVMA Virtual Convention. Dr. Greg Bishop, a small animal practitioner from Portland, Oregon, noted during the presentation that studies show “clients are really happy with telemedicine and are willing to pay for it. What we lose out on in terms of certain clinical aspects, we make up for by not stressing out animals by coming to the veterinary clinic.” He referenced surveys showing many veterinarians have concerns about telemedicine’s impact on profitability and the challenges of diagnosing animal patients over video stream or other digital avenues. Bishop argues other data shows these doubts are unnecessary.

UC Davis will once again offer CE fellowship for advanced training in specialty veterinary services

Following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the University of California, Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital will once again offer the Don Low/CVMA Practitioner Fellowship. The program allows veterinarians to take 20 days of continuing education on a flexible basis for up to 100 hours of CE. The fellowships are currently offered in the specialty areas of anesthesia, anatomic pathology, behavior, integrative medicine, nutrition, ophthalmology, small animal emergency and critical care, small animal internal medicine, soft tissue surgery and zoological medicine. “I was able to schedule the fellowship over multiple weeks, which allowed me the time to apply the knowledge learned and come back the next week with follow-up questions,” said Dr. John Huebner, who has completed two fellowships. “That made it more of an in-depth CE exposure rather than a routine weekend CE seminar.”

Boehringer Ingelheim and Invetx announce agreement to develop monoclonal antibody therapies for cats and dogs

Boehringer Ingelheim and Invetx, a developer of protein-based animal health therapeutics, announced they’ve made a collaboration agreement to develop species-specific monoclonal antibody therapeutics initially focused on dogs and cats. “For each selected disease target, Invetx will apply its unique platform to the discovery and optimization of best-in-class candidates and Boehringer Ingelheim will advance these therapies through clinical and regulatory development to bring them to market,” the announcement said. Terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed.

Elanco announces new innovation leader as company seeks to advance R&D

Elanco has brought on Ellen de Brabander as executive vice president of the company’s Innovation and Regulatory Affairs segment, focusing on development of animal health products such as the parasiticide NexGard. Current executive vice president Aaron Schacht is transitioning to lead the carve-out of Elanco’s microbiome research and development platform, aiming to create a privately funded, independent biopharmaceutical company focused on microbiome-derived products for animal and human health, according to the announcement. According to Elanco, the new changes “focus on high-value, late-stage pet health pipeline opportunities with blockbuster potential.”