Weekly companion animal news: October 16, 2023

Grain-free diets had no negative impact on canine heart health, didn’t lead to DCM: study

Veterinarians and nutritionists from pet care research and consulting firm BSM Partners, along with a group of veterinary cardiologists, found in a seven-month study that grain-free diets had no negative effect on canine cardiac function and didn’t lead to the development of dilated cardiomyopathy. The research appeared in a peer-reviewed article in Frontiers in Animal Science. Researchers formulated four canine diets, two grain-free and two grain-inclusive. “While our study was unable to identify any dietary correlation to DCM, we continue to encourage our peers to perform and publish peer-reviewed controlled studies in order to improve our understanding of cardiac function and the development of DCM,” said Stephanie Clark, a BSM researcher and board-certified companion animal nutritionist.

BluePearl launches university partnership program

BluePearl has announced the BluePearl University Partnership Program, what the veterinary hospital calls “a first-of-its-kind initiative” in which BluePearl specialists will be placed as hybrid faculty members in select colleges across the country. According to the announcement, the program has been launched to help address a shortage of veterinary specialists in the United States. The program will initially launch in partnership with Colorado State University, where BluePearl ophthalmologist Trevor Arnold will spend one quarter of his time while spending three quarters at BluePearl’s Lafayette, Colorado hospital. BluePearl will expand the program to additional academic institutions.

Zoetis launches Librela in the U.S. for canine osteoarthritis, Apoquel Chewable for pruritus

Zoetis announced the U.S. commercial launch of Librela (bedinvetmab injection), which the company says is the first and only anti-NGF monoclonal antibody treatment to control canine osteoarthritis pain. The product in May received approval from the FDA. Zoetis also recently launched Apoquel Chewable (oclacitinib chewable tablet) in the United States for the control of pruritus associated with allergic dermatitis and control of atopic dermatitis in dogs at least 12 months of age. Zoetis says Apoquel is the first and only chewable treatment for the control of pruritus associated with allergic dermatitis and control of atopic dermatitis in dogs in the United States.

Dog owners have conflicting views on their pets’ weight: Purina survey

Excess physical weight in dogs carries emotional weight for their owners, and many dog owners view their pets as thinner than they really are, according to a new survey from Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets released October 11, National Pet Obesity Awareness Day. Survey results showed that approximately one in five dog-owning households consider one or more of their dogs to be overweight, though findings from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (highlighted below) show the number of overweight dogs in the United States has reached a record high. Eighty-eight percent of surveyed owners whose dogs are overweight agreed their pets’ body condition concerns them, according to Purina, and 92% agreed weight loss would be beneficial.

Companies to develop supplement for overweight pets

Better Choice Company has signed a research and development partnership with Aimia Pet Health to develop a GLP1 supplement for overweight pets under its Halo brand. Following the creation by Pfizer of its Slentrol medication, Better Choice will work with Aimia Pet Health to develop treats and toppers to safely combat pet obesity.

Are golden retrievers dying younger than they used to?

Veterinarian Michael Lappin has always loved golden retrievers. But somewhere along his career, he said, something changed: They weren’t living as long. He started seeing many of his golden retriever patients die of cancer before they reached 13. Today, there is a consensus among veterinarians that golden retrievers have some of the highest rates of cancer of any dog breed, Slate reports. Years of linebreeding has ensured future generations of puppies all have the same distinctive characteristics, but it also carries risks. When two closely related individuals are bred together, their offspring are more likely to inherit two copies of the same mutation—for example, a mutation that predisposes them to cancer—leaving them with no functional gene to step in. With selective breeding, in which dogs sharing desirable features are paired up, genetics gets even more complicated.

How AI is fueling a pet tech boom

From biometric ID to predictive diagnostics, pet owners and veterinarians are using artificial intelligence to improve the quality of life for dogs and cats. The use of connected technology has helped caregivers manage routine aspects of daily life for pets, from grocery delivery to virtual medical check-ups, and has fueled the need to leverage on-demand cloud-based AI resources to power pet care platforms. The pet tech market is projected to be worth $22 billion by 2028, with a compound annual growth rate of 23.2% over the forecast period. Increasing demand for remote monitoring and tracking of pets, plus technology for securing pets against theft and accidental loss, is driving growth. Smart collars, webcams and robotic fitness toys have all grown in popularity and smartphones are serving as health scanning devices across a range of different pet care applications, E+T reports.

WSU veterinary hospital installs linear accelerator to treat cancer

Washington State University has installed a new linear accelerator capable of providing advanced radiation therapy and life-saving treatments to animal cancer patients at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. The linear accelerator, or LINAC, is designed to safely and accurately direct beams of intense energy to kill cancer cells while limiting damage to surrounding healthy tissue. The accelerator’s onboard imaging system allows the operator to “see” where a tumor is physically located just before treatment and then auto-align the patient to ensure the target is perfectly in line with the radiation beam. On older LINAC models, the user had to rely on film for imaging, which is costly and time-consuming and provides poor image quality. The LINAC will be used for treatment of many cancers, including mast cell tumors, soft tissue sarcomas and a variety of oral, nasal and brain tumors.