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What’s in Store for Pet Health in 2023?

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senior pet-pet care-health-veterinarian-diabetes-medication
A scene from the Veterinary Meeting and Expo in January

Every January, the veterinary medical community kicks off the year at the Veterinary Meeting and Expo (VMX) where we share and learn the newest innovations in animal medicine so we can bring them back to our clinics and improve the healthcare we can provide to your pets throughout the year. 

More than 27,000 veterinary industry professionals, including veterinarians, veterinary technicians, practice managers, scientists, and industry leaders from all over the world, attend VMX, which is organized and hosted by the North American Veterinary Community (NAVC) in Orlando, Florida. 

One of the most exciting trends we saw at the VMX education sessions this year focused on less invasive diagnostic tests, surgical procedures, and treatment options. Just like we have experienced in human surgery, incisions are getting smaller with better micro-surgery instruments, more widely available laparoscopy equipment, and improved surgical techniques. 

Like us, animals benefit from these less invasive options with faster healing times and less pain; however, in veterinary medicine, this means even more. Now animals that were too small or too sensitive for traditional surgery techniques are able to undergo life-saving procedures. Hedgehogs can have mammary cancer surgically removed, and hamsters — which are even smaller than a surgeon’s hand — can be spayed. 

Dana Varble, D.V.M., CAE, Chief Veterinary Officer of North American Veterinary Community, and her dogs | Photo By Jenny May Stringer

Beyond surgery, we are also seeing less invasive diagnostic testing. We are seeing new technology, including handheld devices that can tell if the lumps and bumps that dogs and cats get with age are likely to be cancer and if surgical removal is necessary. They can also provide us reassurance when a “wait-and-see” approach is the best course of action. 

Other testing, such as stool samples, blood smears, and  even x-rays, are using technology — specifically artificial intelligence — to aid veterinarians in assessing samples and getting the best results. Getting more answers with small samples arms veterinarians and pet owners with the important information we need to make the best health decisions for our pets. 

Senior pet care

As we improve the health of our pets, we are seeing more pets live longer, and that means veterinary medicine has a renewed focus on the care of senior and aging pets to ensure our pets’ lives aren’t just longer but better. 

The science of aging is changing as we can now look at aging as a series of preventable physiologic changes — changes we can treat, slow the progression of, and possibly prevent. Specifically, we know that mobility has a huge impact on senior pets, and limited treatment options when pets become unable to walk or get around can be devastating for their owners. How the joints age, including new ways to treat and manage osteoarthritis, are being utilized. 

New medications, including ways to manage joint pain and inflammation with better safety margins, mean that more senior dogs are able to enjoy walks, playing ball, and even jogging with their owners into their golden years! Plus, the story isn’t just about dogs anymore, but new, safer medications for cats are now widely available. 

As those new medications are developed, veterinarians are no longer solely reliant on adapting medications developed for humans for the wide variety of species we treat, including dogs, cats, cows, horses, rabbits, and many others. More and more medications are being developed for individual species. 

Now we have arthritis medication and a new oral diabetes medication for cats. Developed specifically to work with the unique physiology, body size, and behavior of cats, these species-specific medications have more predictable effects and less frequent or severe side effects.

Nothing makes a veterinarian happier than seeing a beloved pet recover from an illness, heal from a successful surgery, and thrive on safe medications. New innovations for pets and vets mean many more years with your devoted, happy, and healthy pets!

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