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Catch up on this week’s top headlines with the weekly veterinary news roundup, presented by VetX International.

Strong Client Relations Key to Improving Veterinary Care 

Research on the US Pet Market has indicated a strong relationship between client relations and veterinary care quality. Strong, personal client relationships are key to changing attitudes and perceptions about veterinary care and can determine whether clients come in for regular checkups, comply with treatments, and/or listen to recommendations. 

Veterinarians remain the most trustworthy source of veterinary information for owners (albeit there being a rise in clients using the internet to treat/diagnose their pets). However, 30% of clients do not see their veterinarians regularly, due to cost-related issues and an undervaluation of veterinary services. 

Changing attitudes are key to improving patient care and client satisfaction. Veterinarians should try to emphasize to clients the importance of regular checkups (even if there isn’t an obvious problem in the animal). Preventive care should be encouraged, and client value realized. 

Regular visits also lay down the groundwork for good vet-client relationships, building a rapport between owners and veterinarians. Issues around cost need to be addressed in many practices, as this is a major barrier for preventative care. 

The bottom line is that for clinics to foster the personal and trusting relationships they desire with clients, attitudes must be changed in the general public. 

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Rural Shortages and Student Debt Target of New Bill

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has called for the support of the VMLRP Enhancement Act; a bill that would minimize veterinary student debt and improve access to veterinary care in rural areas.

The bill has been reintroduced into the house of representatives and aims to expand the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) which provides veterinarians up to $25,000 a year for student loan repayments. Veterinarians partaking in this scheme are required to work for at least three years in one of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) designated rural veterinary shortage areas.

The bill would specifically remove a withholding tax, which would increase funding and allow the program to reach more communities. 

‘The proposed legislation reintroduced is a common-sense solution to enhancing a program that helps address two of the biggest challenges the veterinary profession faces: student debt and rural veterinary shortages’ says AVMA president, Douglas Kratt, DVM.

Eliminating the tax on VMLRP service awards would allow more veterinarians to reach rural communities that need their essential services’ Dr. Kratt said.

‘We applaud this action taken by Congress and the AVMA looks forward to working with the House and Senate to enact this bill into law.’

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Survey Finds the Seven Hardest Conditions For Vets to Manage in Practice 

A survey of GP vets has revealed the conditions which have been hardest to treat during the pandemic.

The survey, conducted by the Buckinghamshire-based Hamilton Specialist Referral Services, analyzed data from 60 vets across the UK. 80% of those vets believed they had seen an increase in behavioral problems since lockdown, whereas 60% reported an increase in obesity and diarrhea. 

Additionally, over 50% of vets surveyed found an increase in urinary tract disorders and hemorrhagic gastroenteritis.

The top seven conditions that were the hardest to treat during the pandemic were:

1- Diabetes in cats 

2- Skin disease 

3- Diabetes in dogs 

4- Hyper- and hypoadrenocorticism 

5- Chronic gastroenteritis 

6- Haemorrhagic gastroenteritis 

7- Immune-mediated disease 

Dr. Stefanie Mitze, a medicine specialist who helped run the survey said:

‘We conducted the survey to help us understand changes in disease incidence and the clinical challenges faced by our colleagues in first opinion practice over the last year.’

‘The fact that the incidence of disorders which can have a stress-related component, including behavioral problems, diarrhea, and urinary tract disease, were reported to have increased by a high proportion of respondents indicates that many pets may be experiencing heightened stress during the pandemic.’

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New Campaign Launches to Support Older Pets 

A campaign to help educate the owners of older pets has been launched in the UK. 

The Animalcare Group launched the ‘Make Senior Easier’ campaign to raise awareness around conditions that may go unnoticed by owners as a normal part of aging, such as hypothyroidism. 

Kirsty Cavill RVN commented:

‘In my role as an RVN and canine rehabilitation therapist, I often come across senior pets with underlying conditions which are adversely affecting their health but could be managed successfully through a multimodal approach and structured treatment plan.’

‘By adopting a proactive approach to senior pet care and by helping owners to understand how to best support their pets through this life stage, we will strengthen the bonds with our clients, to ensure the highest standard of care is afforded to all senior patients.’

James Beaumont, Brand Manager at Animalcare, also stated that:

‘As life expectancy increases and numbers of senior pets continue to grow, veterinary care tailored to the needs of these animals has never been more relevant and it is also a huge business opportunity for practices.’

‘To help them capitalize on this opportunity, we have created our Make Senior Easier campaign and hope that the resources we have created will improve owner awareness and give practices the tools they need to achieve the best clinical outcomes for older pets and their owners.’

To read more about the campaign, click here:

Indo-Canadian Veterinarians Return to British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal with Discrimination Allegations

A group of Indo-Canadian veterinarians returned to the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal for the second time, with claims that the regulatory college discriminated against them. 

The four veterinarians claim that the College of Veterinarians of British Columbia had engaged in disciplinary processes which were ‘harsh, disproportionate, unfounded, protracted, unfair and inconsistent with the Veterinarians Act’. 

The main complainant, Dr. Bhupinder Johar, owner, and principal veterinarian at the Haney Animal Hospital in Maple Ridge, stated that:

‘I want to feel like I am being treated at par like the other veterinarians… I don’t say that they should favor me or favor my friends. I want a fair investigation’. 

Dr. Johar has filed the complaint alongside Dr. Anil Sharma of the Tranquille Road Animal Hospital in Kamloops, Dr. Jasdeep Grewal with the Alpenlofts Veterinary Clinic in Squamish, and Dr. Renu Sood with the Apollo Animal Hospital in Surrey. 

The original complaint, submitted back in 2018, alleges that the college unfairly targeted the four in their investigations. Dr. Jonar believes he and his colleagues were targeted not just because of their race, but also because their low-cost, high-volume business models were undercutting veterinary services nearby. 

Although the college accepted the complaint, they are currently applying to have it dismissed. 

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Mindfulness Stress Busters For Burnt Out Vets 

Tight on time? Don’t stress- there are several things veterinarians can do during their lunch breaks and morning commutes to release tension and bring clarity. 

Drawing from the expert knowledge of Eve Lewis Prieto, director of meditation at Headspace, a popular mindfulness app, here are two mindfulness exercises vets can conduct anytime, anywhere. 

Eve’s Six-Step Mindfulness Meditation 

First and foremost, find a quiet place to sit or stand. Whether that’s in the clinic, in a car, or a park, anything works as long as there is privacy. Begin with unfocused or closed eyes, and take several deep breaths. Breathe in through the nose, and focus on the sensation of taking in the air. 

Focus on contact points. Notice the distribution of weight, and find a place of balance. Listen to the surrounding sounds and take note. 

Bring attention back to the body. Start scanning from the top of the head to the toes, feeling the sensations of the whole body. 

As physical awareness increases, notice the breath. Are they shallow or deep? Where can the breath be felt in the body- the chest, shoulders, or mouth?

Allow the thoughts to come and go. Everything thoughts preoccupy the mind, go back to the breath. 

Gently unfocus the eyes or open them. Take a moment to come back into the present, and take note of any new sensations. 

Mindfulness Walking Technique

Don’t have time to practice mindfulness during the workday? Try doing a mindfulness exercise during the commute. 

Whilst walking, check-in with the body. Is it heavy or stiff? Where are the points of contact with the ground? Which parts of the body are moving?

Observe the stride and pace of the movement. Use the rhythm of the feet to ground any movements. Whenever the mind wanders, bring attention back to the feet, and focus on the rhythm of walking. 

Continue doing this for as long as desired. 

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