Conference Circuit Update

Diabetics, itchy dogs hot topics at conference.

If you couldn’t get in to see your favourite vet recently, perhaps he was away at a conference, stuffing his brain full of the latest medical insights for dogs and cats. So what is new for pets these days?

Well, at the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association’s conference in Toronto recently, there was a new injection pen showcased for diabetic cats and dogs. It can only be used with one type of insulin, but it should be helpful for some pet owners struggling with syringes. There’s also a new type of insulin for diabetic cats. With a disease as common as diabetes, there’s a good market for new treatments.

Perhaps of more global interest, the American College of Veterinary Behaviourists has published a new book called Decoding Your Dog. Full of expert insight into how dogs think and advice on such common trouble spots as housetraining, diet and exercise, the book is at the top of my reading list. Behaviour problems are one of the most common excuses for abandoning dogs and there is a huge amount of misinformation out there today, whether you are searching the internet or watching a self-styled expert on TV. Did you know that celebrity dog trainer Cesar Milan is not overly popular with many vets?

The impact of “Dr. Google” on veterinary medicine is a hot topic. These days, many clients with sick pets arrive at the vet clinic already armed with a list of possible diagnoses, gathered from internet searches. Although good information can help owners contribute to treatment of their pets, there’s an old adage about a little bit of knowledge being a dangerous thing. One conference speaker had several patients die after being treated at home for internet-diagnosed “tummy upsets” that turned out to be gastrointestinal emergencies including a twisted stomach. A manic “Googler” myself, I’d rather not discourage internet use, but promote using sites that can be trusted –, and

Although it wasn’t unveiled at the conference, a new drug for itchy, allergic dogs was the subject of excited talk in lecture halls. Only recently released in the states, oclacitinib has been submitted for regulatory approval in Canada. The dermatologist who discussed the drug believes allergic skin disease will be much more manageable in the near future as our understanding of the condition grows.

The Toronto conference is the biggest in Canada and the tradeshow offered up endless displays of the latest in ultrasound, surgical laser and anesthesia monitors. Veterinary medicine is not being left behind by technology. There was also a company selling a new device for freezing warts off of dogs. Before my appointment schedule gets booked up with warty poodles, you should know I didn’t buy it and suspect we will all be glad of that. Sometimes the latest just isn’t the greatest.

But the most exciting and valuable things gleaned at recent lectures are not easily appreciated at first. They are the little hints – how to make a simple suction system for post-surgical swellings, what to do when an elderly kitty won’t gain weight and how to sneak into bed so your dog doesn’t take it over first – that make the annual brain-stuffing trek to Toronto worthwhile.

Dr. Fiona Gilchrist
Hillcrest Animal Hospital — Trenton/Quinte West, Ontario
February 2014