Heading to AVMA? 5 fast plane reads, from fleas to medical marijuana

My work as VPI’s Chief Veterinary Officer takes me to just about every kind of meeting in the veterinary world, from those of regional and state VMAs to the big national events, such as the two I’ll be at this month, the AVMA Convention and CVC-Kansas City. Since I leave for AVMA tomorrow, it’s a good time for some desk-cleaning, both of the physical kind here in my VPI office and of the mental kind, sharing a handful of items I keep meaning to share here.

VPI2First, though, some notes about AVMA. We”ll be in booth No. 1602, and we’ll have a full contingent of our top-notch associates on hand to answer all your questions about not only insurance but also our VPI Preventive and Wellness Services (VPI P&WS, pronounced “paws”). And of course, we have freebies for you. Yes, almost everyone does, but … does everyone have our famous “Wheel of Vomit”? Everyone loves them, so come get yours.

You should also make note to catch our Linda Markham speaking both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday she will be moderating in the Practice Management and Veterinary Technician sessions. On Sunday she will be teaching “The 5 Steps of Preventive Care Protocol” along with Dr. Henry Yoo.  And if you see me around, please say hello! I’ll be tweeting as @VPIvetchannel, using #AVMA2014.  Our Dr. Cori Gross will be there as well.

Now, some items I’ve been meaning to share:

Fleas are more than an annoyance: My latest article for Vetstreet is about the cost of flea- and tick-related pet care, based on our claims data. In the article I identify the most common diseases associated with ectoparasites, and examine the cost of these problems. Of course, our VPI claims data doesn’t deal with the human costs attributed to tick-borne diseases, which is also significant. Share with your clients; it should help get them on board  with a safe and effective plan for parasite prevention and control.

Purdue CVM saves the day: Every month here at VPI we share our most interesting claim as a nominee for the annual Hambone Award, which is given out after we invite everyone to vote on the nominees. As you might imagine, there is often some remarkable veterinary heroism associated with these cases, and that was certainly true this month. Our nominee was lucky to survive being run over by a piece of farm equipment, and I doubt Charlie the Labrador retriever would have made it without the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine (as well as a dedicated owner and, of course, VPI Pet Insurance.) Here’s the story, which also caught the eye of the folks who handle the AVMA Smartbrief.

Most veterinarians help pet-owners with costs: The Veterinary Information Network worked with researchers at Colorado State University to confirm what most veterinarians have long suspected, that most of us do what we can to help pet-owners care for their animals.  From the VIN News Service article: “Government price surveys indicate that the cost of veterinary care in the United States is rising at more than twice the rate of inflation, and several national media outlets have reported recently on cases of “economic euthanasia”; how much people are willing to pay for a pet’s medical care; and pet owners struggling to cover veterinary care. Yet, private-practice veterinarians as a group appear to be willing to reduce prices in a variety of circumstances for the sake of a pet’s health. “It’s an incredibly philanthropic group … they’re giving away a great deal of both services and products,” said Dr. Lori Kogan, an associate professor and psychologist in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State and the lead author of the study.” This is me, nodding my head in agreement.

Some you win, some you just shake your head about:  One of the best pieces of news to come out of our nation’s capital was the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act clearing Congress in a rare show of bipartisan support and heading to the President’s desk for signature. (Here’s Veterinary Practice News’ article on the action.).But the AVMA staff in D.C. had barely had time to celebrate when the so-called Fairness to Pet-Owners Act  found a second wind. Since this piece of legislation has the support of big-box retailers such as  Walmart behind it, it’s no surprise that it’s back on track.  And that’s frustrating for the veterinary community as DVM360 points out in their article:  “As the veterinary profession has repeatedly stated to all who would listen since the introduction of the first Fairness to Pet Owners bill in 2012, clients are already free to purchase medications outside of the veterinary clinic. Furthermore, veterinarians are ethically obligated to honor clients’ requests for a written prescription—in fact, in many states this is law. However, big box stores and online pharmacies have spent many an advertising dollar to capture the business of pet owners.”

Medical marijuana for pets? Not yet. I shared this article on my Facebook page, but I think it’s worth sharing here as well. Dr. Narda Robinson, recognized as the country’s leading authority on scientific integrative medicine, weighs in for Vetstreet about the potential use of medical marijuana in veterinary medicine. “Both the promises and perils of medical marijuana (MMJ) point to the need for science-based education, regulation and research. On the up side, marijuana appears to afford a “lifesaving” alternative for a daunting gamut of difficult-to-treat disorders, including intractable epilepsy (seizure disorders that drugs cannot control). For companion animals, even the American Veterinary Medical Association website carries testimonials favoring veterinary cannabis, in which caregivers attest to significant benefits in their animals, who were unresponsive or intolerant of mainstream pharmaceuticals.” But of course, there’s more than an “up side,” so read on.

See you in Denver, I hope!