April 01, 2015


 NAVC kicks off the year

​Announcements abound at first major conference of 2015

Posted March 18, 2015 

The topics ran the gamut: military and police dogs, kidney disease in cats and dogs, pet parasites and pet nutrition, small animal practice in Africa.

These were among the subjects of announcements during the North American Veterinary Community Conference, Jan. 17-21 in Orlando, Florida. Organizers of the first major veterinary conference of the year invited attendees to “Lead the way”—to share ideas, sharpen skills, and learn about the latest innovations. 

2015-2016 NAVC board of directors, front row: Drs. Melinda D. Merck, Christine Navarre, Charlotte Lacroix, and Gail Gibson. Back row: Dr. Cheryl Good, Dr. Susan Klein, Dr. Laurel Kaddatz, Dr. K. Leann Kuebelbeck, and Paige Allen. (Courtesy of NAVC)  

The AVMA Council on Education held a listening session for veterinarians to express their concerns about the council’s accreditation of veterinary colleges (see JAVMA, March 15, 2015). The parent company of Veterinary Pet Insurance, Nationwide, and Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management reported findings that veterinary prices are decreasing slightly (see JAVMA, March 15, 2015).

Zoetis Inc. launched a program to support veterinary care for hundreds of retired military and police dogs. Idexx Laboratories Inc. announced a new test to detect chronic kidney disease sooner in cats and dogs. The Companion Animal Parasite Council and Bayer HealthCare released a study on educating pet owners about parasites, and Nestlé Purina PetCare released results of a survey on educating pet owners about nutrition. The African Small Companion Animal Network unveiled the next phase of its educational program for African veterinarians.

NAVC news

The NAVC Conference 2015 attracted more than 16,000 attendees and offered more than 1,200 hours of continuing education. Among the attendees were 6,447 veterinarians, 1,581 veterinary technicians, 613 practice managers, 394 support staff members, and 863 veterinary and veterinary technician students.

An attendee pets a bunny at the North American Veterinary Community Conference in January. (Courtesy of NAVC)

The nonprofit NAVC has grown beyond holding an annual conference to also offering a variety of educational offerings and publications. On Oct. 1, 2014, the organization added Today’s Veterinary Practice to its portfolio. The publication provides information on companion animal medicine and surgery and on practice building and management. Today’s Veterinary Practice is published six times per year and sent free of charge to more than 60,000 subscribers.

The NAVC had debuted VetFolio, an online CE platform, at the 2014 conference. At the 2015 conference, the NAVC and American Animal Hospital Association announced they are teaming up to provide VetFolio in a joint partnership. The platform now will offer educational and practice management resources from AAHA as well as resources from the NAVC Conference. In addition, LifeLearn Inc. will make VetFolio content available through the new Sofie app, which answers questions posed in natural language rather than using search terms.

The 2015-2016 NAVC officers are Drs. Christine Navarre, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, president; Melinda D. Merck, Austin, Texas, president-elect; Gail Gibson, Skowhegan, Maine, vice president; Laurel Kaddatz, Pound Ridge, New York, treasurer; and Charlotte Lacroix, Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, immediate past president. The other members of the board of directors are Paige Allen, West Lafayette, Indiana; Dr. Cheryl Good, Dearborn, Michigan; Dr. Susan Klein, Chester, New Jersey; and Dr. K. Leann Kuebelbeck, Brandon, Florida. 

Military and policy dogs

Zoetis launched the Rimadyl K-9 Courage Program to help with annual health care costs for as many as 500 retired military and police dogs.

The program will provide $300 on a debit card annually for each participating dog toward services at veterinary clinics such as wellness examinations, vaccinations, and grooming.

Zoetis has joined with The Sage Foundation for Dogs Who Serve and the National Police Dog Foundation to publicize the new program and verify applicants. The company is donating an additional $10,000 to each of the foundations to support their general work for service dogs. Zoetis’ overall contribution for the health care costs of the retired dogs and the donations to the partner organizations will total up to $170,000.  

Diane Whetsel, board chair of The Sage Foundation for Dogs Who Serve; Matthew Foster, formerly with the Marine Corps; and Mick, a retired military dog, participate in the launch of a Zoetis program to support veterinary care for hundreds of retired military and police dogs. (Courtesy of Zoetis) 

Matthew Foster, a former corporal with the Marine Corps, has joined with The Sage Foundation and Rimadyl K-9 Courage Program to help retired military dogs. Foster adopted one of his explosives detection dogs, Mick.

"I know firsthand the wear and tear on these dogs while they are in service, and having a program to help offset their medical needs after retirement is very useful,” he said. “After what you go through with your dog in the military and then to adopt them afterward, you wouldn’t want to say goodbye to your partner because you couldn’t afford to take care of him.” 

While serving in Afghanistan with the Marine Corps, Matthew Foster poses for a photo with Mick, one of his explosives detection dogs. Foster later adopted Mick. At the NAVC Conference, they participated in the launch of a Zoetis program to support veterinary care for hundreds of retired military and police dogs. (Courtesy of Zoetis)

Kidney disease

Idexx announced that it will offer a new test of kidney function, measuring symmetric dimethylarginine, to identify chronic kidney disease in cats and dogs sooner than with traditional methods. The company plans to include SDMA testing in all routine chemistry profiles at no additional cost and with the same turnaround time.

According to a write-up by Dr. Jane Robertson, an internist with Idexx, measuring blood creatinine concentration does not detect chronic kidney disease until cats and dogs have lost up to 75 percent of their kidney function.

“SDMA is excreted almost exclusively by the kidneys, making it a good marker for estimating kidney function,” according to Dr. Robertson. “Research has shown that SDMA can identify CKD an average of 9 months earlier in dogs and 17 months sooner in cats—in one cat 4 years earlier. In addition, SDMA is not impacted by muscle mass, thereby providing practitioners a better tool for diagnosing and monitoring CKD in thin geriatric animals, especially cats and animals with other diseases that cause muscle wasting.”

Dr. Roberton’s write-up, including citations, is here, along with additional resources.

Pet parasites

The CAPC-Bayer study “Connecting with today’s clients” found that providing pet owners with information about pet parasites can drive veterinary visits. The study involved an April to May 2014 survey of 2,000 pet owners, 401 veterinarians, and 263 veterinary technicians.

Ninety percent of pet owners want to be notified if there is a high incidence of parasites in their county, and 89 percent said they are likely to make an appointment to get their pet tested on the basis of the risk. Ninety-two percent of veterinarians agreed clients would more likely seek out veterinary services if the clients were aware of parasite risks in the area.

Seventy-eight percent of pet owners consider their veterinarian to be their primary source of parasite information.

Following up on the study, CAPC is creating free tools to help veterinary practices communicate with clients about parasites. Parasite prevalence maps already are available. Resources also will include videos with key study findings plus educational webinars.

Pet nutrition

Purina released results from a November 2014 survey of 201 veterinarians and 307 pet owners. The survey found that veterinarians and pet owners concur that nutrition is very important to pet health.

Almost all veterinarians said they have clients with misperceptions about how to best feed pets. Sixty-nine percent of pet owners would like to be more knowledgeable about their pets’ nutrition, and 65 percent would like to spend time discussing the subject with their veterinarian during regular checkups.

Seventy percent of veterinarians said that if they had more time, they would be more proactive about educating clients with healthy pets about nutrition. Eighty-eight percent of veterinarians would feel comfortable having a veterinary technician provide client education if they could find an efficient way to train veterinary technicians, and 86 percent of pet owners viewed veterinary staff members as a credible source of information on pet nutrition.

Following up on the findings, Purina plans to add resources to www.purinaveterinarydiets.com.

Practice in Africa

In 2014, the World Small Animal Veterinary Association Foundation launched The African Small Companion Animal Network. AFSCAN aims to advance standards of veterinary care across Africa through education and facilitating creation of a sustainable network of companion animal veterinarians, associations, and specialist groups in sub-Saharan Africa. Zoetis is the major supporter.

The initiative’s flagship education project is Distance Learning for Colleagues in Africa. The first phase of the project was carrying out research and appointing six veterinarians as country ambassadors in five African countries.

The next phase, unveiled at the NAVC Conference, will allow African veterinarians to access online resources at a substantial discount from Vetstream, a provider of clinical reference sources, and from VetFolio, the latter including CE from WSAVA congresses. Computers 4 Africa in the United Kingdom is collecting unwanted computers, tablets, and smartphones for African veterinarians.

“Before AFSCAN, we had access to little other than a few textbooks,” said Dr. Berna Nakanwagi, one of two country ambassadors from Uganda. “This will transform our practice.”

Information about AFSCAN is here