One highlight of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) 150th Convention, held July 19-23 in Chicago, was the anniversary date itself. The Convention attracted more than 9,100 veterinary professionals.
In celebration of 150 years, the non-profit American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) named Dr. Carlos Campos, of Spring Hill, FL, as America's Favorite Veterinarian. Campos was chosen from over 1,000 nominees submitted by pet owners. The non-profit AVMF is celebrating its 50th year.
"Dr. Campos knows how to become fast friends with our furry family members," she says. "He even stops in the waiting room to say 'hello' to our Guinea pig, Lilly, as she gets her nails cut. My daughter aspires to be just like him. To sum up my admiration of Dr. Campos, and I tell him each time, 'Are you sure you won't start seeing humans?'"
Nearly overcome with emotion as he accepted the award, Campos said, "Ever since I was a kid in Guatemala, I dreamed of becoming a veterinarian. I never wanted to be anything else, and here I am. The American dream still exists; I'm proof."
SMITHSONIAN CELEBRATES VETERINARY MEDICINE
As a part of the celebration, the AVMA, in conjunction with Zoetis (formerly Pfizer Animal Health) and the Smithsonian Institution, launched a Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit celebrating veterinary medicine: "Animal Connections: Our Journey Together." The free exhibit features interactive modules, videotapes and lots of information on the sometimes surprising impact veterinary medicine has on our daily lives, including the safety of the food we eat. The tractor-trailer exhibit on wheels will tour Chicago, then hit the road. Learn more at http://www.animalconnections.com.
Other topics covered at the event:
CAT OWNER BELIEFS
The American Association of Feline Practitioners, Bayer Animal Health and Brakke Consulting announced results of a survey of nearly 2,000 cat owners to help better understand why cat visits to veterinarians are plummeting.
The results include:
81 percent of pet owners see cats as independent and self-sufficient, meaning they require minimal attention. Of course, the truth is that while they're more independent than dogs, cats get sick, too.
81 percent of cat owners suggest their cats are in excellent health because "they know their cats." In truth, cats are stoic and don't advertise if they're not feeling well. Pet owners don't have medical equipment like a stethoscope or a way to perform blood work to determine what's really happening.
63 percent of cats in cat-only households never go outside, and their owners assume their pets are not susceptible to disease. Dr. Elizabeth Colleren, of Chico, CA, noted that indoor cats still suffer from diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, hyperthyroid and many others.
"This study confirms that pet owners treat cats differently than dogs when it comes to caring for their health, in part because cats are so effective at masking signs of illness and injury," said Ian Spinks, president and general manager, Bayer HealthCare LLC Animal Health Division, North America.
INTERNATIONAL GROUP OFFERS SCIENCE ON HUMAN-ANIMAL BOND
Imbedded in the Convention of the AVMA was the additional conference of the International Association of Human Animal Interaction Organizations (IAHAIO) which featured individuals and organizations who study and/or practice human/animal relationships and interactions. Members of IAHAIO are from around the world, and meet every three years to share science and best practices. This is the first time IAHAIO has ever met in conjunction with a veterinary convention, and also its first ever meeting in the U.S.
Among the IAHAIO speakers and topics: From Tokyo University, Japanese researchers revealed results of "Psychological Evaluation of Dog-Assisted Program in a Prison by Inmates and Handlers;" "The Effect of Dog Ownership on Social Cognition Skills" was studied by researchers at Waltham Pet Nutrition in the UK and by researchers in the U.S.; and various researchers in Brazil studied how having an animal might aid in the treatment of human obesity.
EARLY SPAY/NEUTER MAY NOT BE BEST IN SOME BREEDS
Dr. Benjamin Hart, distinguished professor emeritus school of veterinary medicine and director of the program for companion animals at the University of California-Davis, was named the Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year. Hart was honored for a lifetime of work,
Hart recently published a study on the effects of early neutering and its relationship to cancers in Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers. Hart reviewed medical records of nearly 1,000 Golden's and 2,000 Labradors dating back 15 years. He concluded that early spay/neuter (before 12 months) is not without potential consequences, including a possible increase in cancer.
CHECK-UPS CRUCIAL FOR PET HEALTH
At a press conference, AVMA CEO Dr. Ron DeHaven said, "Annual checkups for our pets are as essential as food and love. In fact, with veterinary visits on the decline, our pets have been getting sicker. The good news is that this unnecessary and alarming trend is reversible."
The AVMA, American Animal Hospital Association and a long list of other collaborators, teaming up in a coalition called Partners for Health Pets, will begin reaching out to pet owners this fall to deliver this message.
"Of course, most pet owners want to do what's best for their pets, and we look forward to delivering this call to action," DeHaven said.
(Steve Dale welcomes questions/comments from readers. Although he can't answer all of them individually, he'll answer those of general interest in his column Send e-mail to PETWORLD(at)STEVE DALE.TV. Include your name, city and state. Steve's website is http://www.stevedalepetworld.com; he also hosts the nationally syndicated "Steve Dale's Pet World" and "The Pet Minute." He's also a contributing editor to USA Weekend.)