Conference News

New cancer treatment, weight-loss diets launched for pets…

Recent developments in health care for Canadian pets include an injectable cancer treatment, alternative techniques for spaying dogs and a revolutionary new weight loss diet.

These and other advancements in animal medicine were featured at the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association’s (OVMA’s) annual conference which attracted several Quinte area veterinarians, along with more than a thousand colleagues from across the country.

A new cancer treatment developed by Bioniche Animal Health was showcased at the Toronto event. Called Immunocidin, the medication has been used in dogs to treat breast cancer and a few other types of tumours that could not be surgically removed. Bioniche’s Canadian headquarters are in Belleville. The product is not always successful, but may provide hope for patients otherwise considered untreatable.

Dentistry for pets was one of the biggest topics of discussion at the conference. Pulling teeth is often a daily task for veterinarians now that oral health for animals has become so important. For badly diseased teeth, it can be the only option. However, relatively inexpensive techniques for healing teeth with chips and small fractures have been developed that may decrease tooth loss.

Vets are also learning ways to save teeth with moderate periodontal disease using surgical methods to help bone regrow. These aren’t really new techniques, but for Quinte patients, they have usually required referral to a certified veterinary dentist in Toronto or Ottawa. Now, local general practitioners may be able to offer these services.

When having a dog or cat spayed, some clients are surprised to learn that we remove the entire reproductive tract, including the uterus and ovaries, but this may be changing. For no reason other than tradition, our European counterparts are taught to remove only the ovaries and recent studies show there may be some benefits to this technique.

The main advantage is that the surgery can be done laparoscopically with tiny incisions and faster recoveries. Since the equipment required is quite expensive, don’t look for this option locally in the immediate future, but ask your vet if you are interested. Referrals to specialists are always possible.

Pet food giant Hill’s launched a new line of weight loss diets for Canadian dogs and cats at the OVMA conference. Promotional material claims the new Metabolic line is “clinically proven to safely provide 28% body fat loss in only 2 months because it works to control hunger” and, I must admit, the study data looks good. Since obesity is right up there with dental disease as a major health concern in pets, I’m hoping Metabolic will prove helpful with my many chubby patients. Although most of us have been disappointed by the latest “revolutionary” diet at some point in our lives, if you’ve got an overweight pet, it’s certainly worth a try.

Dr. Fiona Gilchrist
Hillcrest Animal Hospital – Trenton/Quinte West
January 2013