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A study from the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges found that unintended bias still exists in admissions to veterinary colleges despite recent efforts to be more inclusive.

Many veterinary colleges have shifted their admission practices in recent years to consider factors beyond academics such as life experiences and communication skills. However, the new data show that some potential veterinary students are still disadvantaged. The AAVMC study recommends that schools focus more attention on overcoming barriers to admissions related to factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, culture, and socioeconomic status.

Dr. James W. Lloyd, former dean of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, and Lisa M. Greenhill, EdD, AAVMC senior director for institutional research and diversity, analyzed AAVMC data from a post-application survey for the 2018–19 Veterinary Medical College Application Service cycle and a 2019 postadmissions student survey.

The study found that candidates for veterinary college received fewer admission offers if they were from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups; recipients of Pell Grants, which are for students with financial need; first-generation college students; or from rural communities. Candidates received more admission offers if they were white, were male, grew up in suburban communities, were not Pell Grant recipients, or their parents also attended college.

The study can be found at jav.ma/admissions.


The AVMA American Board of Veterinary Specialties has granted full recognition to the American College of Animal Welfare. The ACAW had been a provisionally recognized veterinary specialty organization since 2012.

Dr. Stacy Pritt, ACAW president, called the ABVS decision this March a significant milestone for the organization, which is one of a handful worldwide that certifies animal welfare specialists.

“The distinction recognizes the hard work of our charter diplomates and college leaders who have focused on building a quality organization that not only meets ABVS requirements for a specialty college but advances animal welfare within the veterinary profession in the United States,” Dr. Pritt said.

The organization currently has 60 active diplomates, she added.

The ACAW is one of 22 AVMA-recognized veterinary specialty organizations and had been the only organization with provisionally recognized status.


The National Institutes of Health Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence has awarded an $11 million grant to Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine to establish a cancer research center, the school announced in March.


Rhonda Cardin, PhD

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 10; 10.2460/javma.258.10.1027

The grant will create the Center for Pre-Clinical Cancer Research at the veterinary school, providing scientific expertise and technical support for cancer projects as well as to all LSU researchers. The principal investigator is Rhonda Cardin, PhD, a professor in the LSU Department of Pathobiological Sciences.

The center will enhance cancer research both at LSU and at Southern University, strengthen collaborative research efforts with LSU's Health Sciences Center-New Orleans, and support efforts to establish a National Cancer Institute–Designated Cancer Center in Louisiana.

The Center for Pre-Clinical Cancer Research aims to identify clinically relevant mechanisms of human cancer using models that closely reflect the disease state in the context of the tumor microenvironment to reveal insights into tumorigenesis and thus drive discovery of new treatments for cancer.

Educational debt through a pandemic lens

Experts give advice on making payments and budgeting in light of recent legislation

By Kaitlyn Mattson

Dr. Michael Miller, co-owner and a veterinarian at four small animal practices in Illinois, said he didn't plan to pay off his loans last August, but he did.

Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, began providing temporary relief for federal student loans in March 2020 when the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act was signed into law. The measures in the relief bill include the suspension of loan payments, no collections on defaulted loans, and a 0% interest rate. Educational loan borrowers, including veterinarians, have taken advantage of the changes by paying off their loans or making no payments and saving more. The relief has been extended through Sept. 30.

Then the latest relief package, known as the American Rescue Plan Act, was passed on March 11. Among other things, this act temporarily provides tax-free treatment of forgiven debt for qualified educational loans discharged Dec. 31, 2020, through Jan. 1, 2026.

“When the forbearance began, everything I paid each month went toward bringing down my principal amount,” Dr. Miller said. “The principal shrunk at a much faster rate than I had experienced before since I was not putting a large chunk of my payment each month toward interest. On Aug. 31, I made my final loan payment. I will now celebrate the date of student loan freedom forever.”


Dr. Tony Bartels, the Veterinary Information Network Foundation's student debt expert, told JAVMA News he is on an income-driven repayment plan and hasn't made a payment in over a year.

“For a number of reasons, it makes no sense to make payments,” Dr. Bartels said. “It depends on the specifics of your circumstances. If you are using an income-driven payment plan or you have unpaid interest on your student loans, it doesn't make sense to make payments during this period.”

However, if a borrower's debt-to-income ratio—monthly debt payments divided by monthly gross income—is less than one and the borrower will pay off the debt balance in about 10 years or less, then it makes sense to pay down the loan faster, Dr. Bartels said. He added that he would still save the money for the monthly payment to create more financial security and flexibility and then, when the forbearance ends, make one large payment, if desired.


Dr. Michael Miller was able to pay off his educational loans last year because of pandemic forbearance. (Courtesy of Dr. Miller)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 10; 10.2460/javma.258.10.1027

“If you make a payment on Sept. 30, immediately prior to the end of the pandemic forbearance for federally held loans, it will have the same impact,” Dr. Bartels said. “There is not a real benefit if you pay it throughout.”

Dr. Bartels said people who have made payments and could benefit from that extra money should reach out to their loan service provider to request a refund. Anyone who has made a payment since last March can receive a refund.

Dr. Michael Dupor, a large animal practitioner in Indiana and a 2020 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, said: “I haven't paid a cent on my loans yet. My plan was always to be aggressive and pay it off early, but because of the pandemic I wanted to save some money.”

Dr. Bartels said there is some confusion for current students and recent graduates. Currently, no interest is accruing for students in veterinary school, so students are saving thousands of dollars, but that won't last. Also, he added that because interest rates are turned off for now, some borrowers don't know what their interest rates are, and that can be dangerous.


Dr. Annie Chavent, assistant director for student initiatives at the AVMA, spoke about budgeting and educational debt during the session “The Veterinary Debt Initiative Presents: A One Health Approach to Finances” at the virtual Student AVMA Symposium, March 12–15.

“Finances bring up a lot of emotions, especially when debt is involved, but we must think about it,” she said during the session.

Dr. Chavent suggests that if a budget spreadsheet seems intimidating, consider the idea of a personal finance pie instead.

“The two most important questions to ask about any pie are ‘How big is the pie?’ and ‘How are you going to slice it?’” she said. Dr. Chavent said the first step to forming the finance pie is figuring out your income or how big the pie is. Next, figure out the pie slice sizes by noting fixed expenses such as taxes, rent, or mortgage payments and adjustable expenses such as loan repayments, retirement and savings, and personal or fun spending.

A standard student loan repayment plan is about 10 years but, depending on an individual's debt-to-income ratio, sometimes those payments don't fit into the pie, Dr. Chavent said. So, consider other options such as income-driven repayment plans, which have monthly payments based on income.

However, while the unpaid balance at the end of an income-driven repayment loan term is forgiven, the amount is taxed as income and should be planned for.

“You do have to figure out a way to pay the IRS a tax if it is due,” Dr. Bartels said. “Budget it into household expenses. Plan as if the forgiveness and potential tax is going to happen. Start saving—this is a great time to do it. This is a great time for recent graduates who may have ignored the potential tax on their loans to play catch-up. Your student loan is out of the way right now, so take the time.”


By Kaitlyn Mattson

Across all disciplines, educational debt in the U.S. has increased by more than 100% over the past 10 years, according to Federal Reserve Economic Data.

Bridgette Bain, PhD, associate director of analytics in the AVMA Veterinary Economics Division, spoke about educational debt during the session “How Debt is Changing the Face of the Profession” at the virtual American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges' Annual Conference and Iverson Bell Symposium, March 3–5.

The mean debt among veterinary graduates continues to rise, and those going into private practice typically have the highest debt, Dr. Bain said.

The mean debt accumulated during veterinary school is about $160,000, according to data from the 2020 AVMA Senior Survey published in the April 15 issue of JAVMA. Graduates going into private practice had a mean salary of $90,000, while graduates going into public practice earned less, and graduates going into advanced education earned still less.

Dr. Bain said that, ideally, there shouldn't be a relationship between debt levels and sector, but there is evidence of this occurring.

How students pay for tuition is also an indicator of educational debt, Dr. Bain said. For example, if students have family paying tuition, the mean debt is significantly less than if the student covers the same amount of tuition through scholarship or savings.

The educational debt of graduates is growing by about $5,800 each year. Also, although a portion of students graduate with no debt, Black students graduate with more than $100,000 more debt, on average, than white graduates. The mean debt for white graduates was $151,174 in 2020, compared with $249,436 for Black graduates.

If the problem of educational debt in veterinary medicine is left unchecked, there is a risk of saturation by those who can afford to attend veterinary school, Dr. Bain said.

Currently, the typical veterinary graduate is a white woman from suburbia, and studies have shown that veterinarians prefer to work and open hospitals or clinics in areas that are similar to where they grew up. If this trend continues, there may be areas across the U.S. where there is a higher density of veterinarians than others, Dr. Bain said. That could have economic implications, she added.

This trend could furthermore lead to a lack of diversity within the profession, Dr. Bain said, not just racially and ethnically but also with respect to practice type.

From 2001–20, 1.1–2.5% of graduates in each veterinary class planned to pursue uniformed services. Graduates who enter the uniformed services typically have the lowest debt and the lowest income.

AVMA data show that the population of students who opt to go into uniformed services has been declining. Over the last few years, Dr. Bain said, the world has been faced with the rapid spread of zoonotic disease, so veterinarians are needed on the front lines combating diseases. The veterinarian is trained to be helpful under these unique conditions.

“We do not want to see a decline in uniformed services because graduates feel they can't (afford to) accept such a low-paying position,” Dr. Bain said.


By Kaitlyn Mattson

Veterinarians and others have likely noticed the words “she/her” or “he/him” popping up in more email signatures and Zoom meetings in recent years.

For many cisgender people, individuals who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, their pronouns aren't something they may think or worry about. But for people who are transgender, individuals who don't identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, or nonbinary, individuals who don't identify within a binary system of gender and might use “they/them” or other pronouns, incorrect pronoun use and misgendering can be painful.

Dr. Dane Whitaker, president of the Pride Veterinary Medical Community and a transgender man, said it was exciting to have conversations about pronouns during a Q&A session on March 15 at the virtual Student AVMA Symposium. He also spoke about how allies can use pronouns to be more inclusive during the session “From Personal to Practical: Building on Experiences to Understand the Importance of Proactive Personal Pronouns.”

“Respecting someone's pronouns is one of the most basic ways to show that you respect their gender identity,” Dr. Whitaker said during the session. “It involves simple changes in behavior that you can take away from this and start doing.”

Dr. Whitaker suggested the following tips to be more inclusive to people of all genders:

  • State your pronouns when you introduce yourself.

  • Share your pronouns wherever you can, such as in your email signature and social media bio and on a name tag or stethoscope.

  • Don't call out other people by asking for their pronouns unless you ask for everyone to share in a group setting.

  • Don't use words such as “preferred” when talking about pronouns. A person's pronouns aren't optional.

  • If you unintentionally misgender someone, apologize and don't make it about yourself.

  • If you see someone misgendering someone else, call it out, if the environment is safe.

  • Consider using client intake forms that include a pronoun section.

“Not having to worry about the pronouns someone will choose for you is gender privilege,” Dr. Whitaker said. “If you have that privilege but fail to acknowledge or support someone else's gender identity, that is hurtful and oppressive. Stick up for and stand up for folks.”

The path to a career in zoo medicine and conservation

This discipline continues to be a competitive and versatile area of veterinary medicine

By Kaitlyn Mattson


Dr. Sharon L. Deem, a wildlife veterinarian and epidemiologist, is the director of the Saint Louis Zoo Institute for Conservation Medicine. She says with the sort of conservation and public health crises of today, the veterinary profession is being recognized as even more important. (Courtesy of Dr. Deem/Saint Louis Zoo)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 10; 10.2460/javma.258.10.1027

When Dr. Sharon L. Deem weighed a career choice in human or animal medicine, she started to think about things such as how to feed the world without destroying biodiversity. Those thoughts solidified her interest in veterinary medicine, conservation, and one health.

“I thought humans were doing better than animals and thus my interest in veterinary medicine over human medicine,” she told JAVMA News.

Dr. Deem is now director of the Saint Louis Zoo Institute for Conservation Medicine and secretary of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians.

The virtual Student AVMA Symposium, March 12–15, hosted several sessions related to zoo and wildlife medicine, conservation, and one health for veterinary students interested in potential careers in those areas.

Dr. Deem said, “I think a lot of students today are in that same mindset,” as she was. “With the sort of conservation and public health crises of today, our profession is being recognized as even more important.”

Not-for-profit organizations have seen an increase in the number of veterinarians employed, according to the 2019 AVMA Economic State of the Veterinary Profession. Specifically, zoos and aquariums have seen a 169% jump from 2008–18 in veterinarians employed. But their ranks remain relatively small. In 2018, 288 veterinarians were employed at zoos and aquariums.

Dr. Danelle Okeson, staff veterinarian at Rolling Hills Zoo in Salina, Kansas, confirmed that zoo medicine is a growing field but does not have a huge number of jobs available. Dr. Okeson spoke during the session “Zoo Veterinarians: The Ultimate General Practitioner” at the SAVMA Symposium.

“It is a competitive field, but if you want a job with a variety of responsibilities, it is a good field,” she said.

Dr. Deem agrees that the job market in zoo medicine is tough, but there are opportunities.

“The program I run at St. Louis didn't exist 10 years ago; we built it,” she said. “I see more veterinarians branching out and convincing organizations or institutions to make those positions exist.”

Dr. Deem suggested that veterinary students who are interested in conservation or zoo medicine should get their names out there.

“It is a small community, so network well and know that we all know each other,” she said. “Even if you are still in veterinary school, get your name out there—go to conferences and get involved. Find a mentor who can help you move into those networks. It sets you up.“

Dr. Okeson said one of the interesting things about the career is that zoo veterinarians are not only generalists but also specialists.

“Zoo medicine requires specialized and additional training, yet a lot of what we do is focused on what a general practitioner would do,” she said.

There are also several nonclinical duties that a zoo veterinarian may be tasked with, including exhibit design, overseeing the health of employees related to zoonotic diseases, fundraising, acting as an ambassador for the zoo, and conservation work.

Additionally, there are challenges to zoo medicine.

Dr. Okeson said, “The patients for a zoo veterinarian can range (in weight) from a gram like a hummingbird to thousands of pounds like elephants.”

Among the challenges are the following: standardized equipment not fitting patients, physical contact with awake animals being limited, postoperative care and follow-up treatments not being easy to achieve, a lack of published data on medical decisions, and some potential rigorous postgraduate training with minimal financial incentives.

Dr. Deem said the COVID-19 pandemic has led to more people understanding one health and the work she and others do, but she added that she hopes the conversation keeps going and doesn't become too human-centric.

“It is positive as long as human health doesn't overtake it and miss the forest through the trees,” she said. “We can't lose the veterinary perspective, and it is up to us.”


By Kaitlyn Mattson

Veterinarians who work with exotic animals may see a wide range of species from hamsters to parrots. When working with exotic pets, there are several considerations to take into account, including the animal's environment, diet, behavior, company, health, and welfare.

Dr. Sara Gardhouse, assistant professor of exotic pet, wildlife, and zoological medicine at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, spoke about these elements and how to perform an examination on various exotic species during the session “Quality of Life Assessment in Exotic Pets” at the virtual 2021 Student AVMA Symposium, held March 12–15.

Dr. Gardhouse said the first thing to do with exotic pets is to start with a thorough history by asking questions such as: What is their diet? Do they get supplements? How are they housed? What is their activity level? Are they spayed or neutered? What vaccines have they received?

When it comes to the health and welfare of an animal, Dr. Gardhouse said she always asks what that animal does in the wild. But she also considers things such as whether an animal is an appropriate pet.

“This links to quality of life,” she said. “Is it fair to keep some of these animals? Consider how domesticated the species is. Consider the danger the species presents to yourself and others. Consider laws and regulations in your state and country.”

Dr. Gardhouse said another thing to think about is how to measure pain in exotics. She suggested that many pain scales can be adapted for various species, including the HHHHHMM scale—with the letters standing for hurt, hunger, hydration, hygiene, happiness, mobility, and more good days than bad—as well as the grimace scale.

Quality-of-life conversations also include euthanasia, which can be challenging. The AVMA has resources on euthanasia at avma.org/euthanasia.


By Katie Burns

Stress levels among veterinary professionals in companion animal practice worldwide are higher than ever before, with 64% being quite or very stressed as of November 2020, compared with 36% before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those figures come from a survey of 5,000 veterinary professionals in 91 countries on every continent except Antarctica. The survey was conducted by CM Research, a United Kingdom–based market research agency specializing in the veterinary and pet sectors, in partnership with the World Small Animal Veterinary Association. CM Research presented survey results during the session “Global Impact of COVID-19: The Veterinarian's Perspective” on March 24 at the joint virtual congress of the WSAVA and the Federation of European Companion Animal Veterinary Associations.

Almost all of the clinics represented by survey respondents implemented additional measures or policies because of the pandemic, said Maria Lindahl, an associate director at the company. The most common measures were wearing personal protective equipment and limiting clients inside clinics. The Americas and Europe put in place a broader array of measures.

“With this change in terms of minimizing face-to-face contact with people naturally also comes a shift in the way that we communicate with clients,” Lindahl said. Worldwide, as of November, 65% of clinics used the phone more than before the pandemic, and 52% of clinics used email more, while 20% used mail less. In addition, 30% of clinics reported using Facebook more than before.

Globally, 88% of veterinary professionals have experienced delivery delays or completely ran out of some products because of the pandemic. North America has been most affected, with only 7% of veterinary professionals not experiencing any supply issues. The most common supply issues globally and in North America involved pharmaceuticals and PPE.

“One thing that we've seen is that there's actually been an increase in the number of clients for many practices,” Lindahl said. Worldwide, 48% of clinics have more clients than before the pandemic, with 77% of clinics in North America having more clients.

“In parallel with this surge in the number of animals, we're also seeing changing behaviors in terms of things like preventative care,” Lindahl said. Globally, 44% of clinics had a reduction in routine checkups, while just 12% had an increase. In North America, 32% of clinics had a reduction in routine checkups, but 27% had an increase. In the United Kingdom, 60% of clinics had a reduction in vaccinations, compared with just 21% of clinics in the United States.

“What has the toll really been on clinic staff at both a personal and professional level during this pandemic?” Lindahl asked. In the United States, stress levels among veterinary professionals in companion animal practice reflect the worldwide trend, with 71% in the U.S. being quite or very stressed as of November, compared with 35% before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Globally, 26% of veterinary professionals were very or quite dissatisfied with their job as of November, up from 11% before the pandemic. In the U.S., 31% of veterinary professionals were very or quite dissatisfied with their job as of November, up from 13%.

The mean burnout score globally was 4.3 on a scale of 0 to 10 as of November. Broken down by roles, the score was 5.5 for veterinary technicians or nurses, 4.9 for full-time veterinarians who were not owners or partners, 3.8 for part-time or relief veterinarians, and 3.6 for owners or partners. Women had a mean burnout score of 4.6, compared with 3.6 for men. The burnout score decreased with increasing years of experience.

“We all know that this is a really high-pressure profession,” Lindahl said, and mental health issues from before the pandemic have worsened. “So that's actually really concerning and something that is a conversation that we definitely need to keep going and really think about what can be done about this as we look to the future.”


A foal that lost his mother hours after birth and a mare who lost her foal were brought together recently via social media. Mic, the foal, and Unbridled Faith, the mare, bonded on a Florida farm in March after their respective owners connected through Facebook. Crystal Bessellieu, Unbridled Faith's owner and operator of Bridlechase Farm, had posted an offer for Unbridled Faith to be a nurse mare to any foal in need. Heather Link, whose husband, Luis Carlos Perez, is one of Mic's owners, sent a message to Bessellieu about needing a nurse mare to raise Mic until he is weaned. After a four-hour drive, Mic and Unbridled Faith were introduced and connected quickly. A video of the two meeting, posted by Link on the social media site TikTok, had nearly 1 million views as of press time in April.


Courtesy of Heather Link

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 10; 10.2460/javma.258.10.1027


The 2021 AVMA Annual Convention, happening July 29-Aug. 1, will shift to a full virtual convention for a second year in a row after a decision by the AVMA Board of Directors at its April 7–9 meeting.

“After thoughtful deliberation regarding the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic and careful consideration of all factors involved, the AVMA has decided to transition the 2021 AVMA Annual Convention originally scheduled to take place in Minneapolis to a completely virtual event,” said Drs. Lori Teller, AVMA Board chair, and Jon Pennell, AVMA House Advisory Committee chair, in an email to the AVMA House of Delegates.

They said the decision to go online only was made with the safety and well-being of attendees, speakers, and partners as the top priority.

“We are a science-based, one-health organization, and the science continues to tell us that COVID-19 remains a serious public health concern,” they wrote. “We care deeply about everyone that joins us for Convention each year, and our decision is based on serving the best interests of all attendees.”

This year's convention will still offer hundreds of hours of continuing education. Among the speakers will be keynoter Atul Gawande, MD, a public health leader and bestselling author who practices general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital and is a professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Sarah Culberson, Sierra Leone princess, humanitarian, educator, and author of “A Princess Found.”

Registration opened April 19. More information is available at avma.org/convention, or questions can be emailed to convention@avma.org. The 2022 AVMA Annual Convention is scheduled to take place in Philadelphia.


The AVMA Board of Directors has referred several policies to the AVMA House of Delegates for consideration during the HOD's regular annual session this summer.

The Board also voted to transition the 2021 AVMA Convention to a virtual-only format and to go ahead with a $10 annual dues increase for AVMA members in 2022. The dues increase had been authorized by the HOD in a resolution passed in 2019. That resolution had also included the possibility of a $10 dues increase in 2021, but the Board decided not to move forward with the increase given the challenging environment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During its April 7–9 meeting, the Board approved forwarding the following AVMA policies to the HOD with recommendations for approval or adoption: an updated “Policy on Random-Source Cats and Dogs for Research, Testing, and Education”; a new “Policy on Therapeutic Medications in Racehorses”; a new “Policy on Use of Prescription Drugs in Veterinary Medicine”; and a revised “Policy on Notification to the Veterinarian of Violative Residues in Foods of Animal Origin.”

The Animal Welfare Committee explained in its recommendation to update the policy on random-source cats and dogs that the overall focus remains unchanged. “The changes made, albeit minor, are critical as they ensure the AVMA remains the leader on this sensitive topic, which long-term will promote the continuation of sound, ethical, biomedical research, and the highest level of animal welfare,” the committee wrote.

The AWC proposed a new policy focusing on major issues related to medication use in racehorses in light of the recent passage of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act.

With furosemide use in the United States being phased out as a result of the HISA, the recommended policy stresses the need for comprehensive plans to mitigate exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage in racing horses. Additionally, the AVMA strongly advocates for research and the development of new strategies to assist in improving respiratory health and mitigating the effects of EIPH in horses while training or racing.

The Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents recommended replacing three polices on veterinary prescription drugs with a single policy that, among other things, emphasizes that decisions regarding prescription drug use should be made within the context of a veterinarian-client-patient relationship.

And finally, the Food Safety Advisory Committee proposed several revisions to the AVMA policy on violative residues in food animals, including clarifying that veterinarians consider drug residues, as well as the residues of pesticides or environmental contaminants, when making decisions regarding the use of medications in their patients.


By Greg Cima


Texas A&M University researchers are testing for SARS-CoV-2 in pets, such as this Yorkshire Terrier, living in homes with people confirmed to have COVID-19. A dog and a cat from one home in Brazos County—where the university is located—had confirmed infections with a SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern, known as B.1.1.7. (Courtesy of Texas A&M University)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 10; 10.2460/javma.258.10.1027

Research groups found pets in the U.S. and U.K. have been infected with a SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern in human medicine.

A U.S.-based group, from Texas A&M University, announced in March that one dog and one cat from a home in Brazos County, Texas, had confirmed infections with a SARS-CoV-2 variant known as B.1.1.7. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists B.1.1.7 among its variants of concern because, in humans, it's known to be more transmissible and more likely to cause severe disease. It should be noted that dogs and cats are not easily infected with SARS-CoV-2 under natural conditions, and there is no evidence that infected cats or dogs spread the virus to other animals or to people.

The two animals in Brazos County developed sneezing before testing and appeared to recover to full health.

A separate research group reported March 18 in a pre-print article, available from bioRxiv, that at least two cats and one dog brought to a veterinary referral center near London had been infected with the B.1.1.7 variant between December 2020 and February 2021. The authors of that article also suggest the infections may be linked to myocarditis in the cats and dog, and they urged further study on transmission of the variant and its effects on pets.

From December through February, veterinarians at Ralph Veterinary Referral Centre near London saw an unexpected rise in the number of cats and dogs that had developed myocarditis without any history of heart disease, and the patients positive for B.1.1.7 were three of the 11 cats and dogs tested for SARS-CoV-2.

Dr. Sarah Hamer, a veterinarian and epidemiologist at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, is principal investigator of a study on SARS-CoV-2 in pets, and her team found the B.1.1.7 infections in Brazos County, where the university is located.

The study involves collecting samples from pets living in homes with people confirmed to have COVID-19. By early April, the research group had identified SARS-CoV-2 infections in about 60 of the 450 pets tested, whether by use of a molecular polymerase chain reaction assay, an antibody assay, or both. Fewer than one-quarter of those infected animals developed clinical signs, such as coughing or diarrhea, and all the animals survived infection.

Dr. Hamer said that, while SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern have been associated with more severe clinical outcomes in humans, her group did not see more serious signs in the two confirmed cases of B.1.1.7 infection in pets identified in Texas. The team plans to continue collecting samples from the dog and cat with B.1.1.7, provided the owner is willing.

“We know from our studies, from other studies, that where there are human cases, it's not hard to find animal cases,” Dr. Hamer said. “And it makes sense that maybe the lineages or strains that are in our animals are spillover from humans. But the key question moving forward, as the variants become more common, is: Will they have more adverse consequences for veterinary health?”

She said more research can show whether pets can maintain those variants, circulate them in homes, or become reservoirs for the virus.

Dr. Hamer said the pre-print article's authors describe an interesting potential association between the infection and illnesses, and she sees a need for further testing.

“We don't know if that's a causal relationship,” Dr. Hamer said.

Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh, director of the CDC's One Health Office in the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, said it's unsurprising pets can become infected by the SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, and additional studies are needed to understand what impact the variants may have on pets and other animals. She said that, among all animals infected with SARS-CoV-2, few developed severe disease.

Variants are expected to emerge, she said. Some will disappear, while others persist. Pets and other animals may be impacted by the variants, and the CDC and U.S. Department of Agriculture are collaborating with other partners on work examining genomic sequences, analyzing variants and their impact, and comparing those data with cases in animals.

“If a person is sick, they should avoid contact with people as well as animals during their illness,” Dr. Barton Behravesh said. “That's really important to prevent the spread of the virus from people to animals.”

The CDC also recommends that people worried their pets could be infected with SARS-CoV-2 call their veterinary clinic ahead of a visit, rather than arriving unexpectedly.


By Greg Cima

A Minnesota-based research group will collect data from across the country on how often and why antimicrobials are administered to pets.

The project team sees the potential for the point-prevalence survey to be the first in a long-term series that could aid antimicrobial stewardship efforts in veterinary medicine.

In a separate project, researchers in the United Kingdom found that a series of educational interventions and reviews for practitioners reduced prescriptions of antimicrobials critical for use in human medicine, and organizations plan to apply the results in more veterinary hospitals.


Dr. Amanda Beaudoin, one of the two principal investigators on the Minnesota-based project funded by the Food and Drug Administration, is an epidemiologist and director of the One Health Antibiotic Stewardship program within the Minnesota Department of Health. Her state government work includes helping officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gather data on antimicrobial use and hospital-acquired infections in human health care, and she said the team saw an opportunity to replicate that effort in small animal veterinary care.


A national survey could help show how often and why antimicrobials are used in veterinary clinics. The leaders of the project team are, from left, Drs. Emma Bollig, Amanda Beaudoin, and Jennifer Granick. (Courtesy of the University of Minnesota)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 10; 10.2460/javma.258.10.1027

Dr. Jennifer Granick, associate professor in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine and co-principal investigator, said the research team wants data that can show the national scope of antimicrobial prescribing in companion animal medicine, encompassing what antimicrobial drugs veterinarians prescribe and which diseases they treat with each of those drugs.

Dr. Beaudoin, who is also an adjunct assistant professor at Minnesota's veterinary college, said existing prescribing guidelines in veterinary medicine cover some specific conditions, such as upper respiratory disease and urinary tract infection. The data from the survey could show how closely prescribing follows guidelines, as well as provide indications whether guidelines are needed for additional diseases common in veterinary medicine, such as acute gastrointestinal disease.

Dr. Emma Bollig, program manager and epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota, said the group plans to recruit veterinary clinics through July and hopes to secure participation from at least 100 total, with at least 25 from each of four regions. Every clinic contributing to the survey will select one day from a two-week period in August and provide data on antimicrobial administration and prescribing from that day. A trained facility coordinator will collect retrospective data on-site using existing health records. Data from all study sites will be compiled to summarize patient characteristics and presenting complaints, antimicrobial prescribing rates, rates of diagnostic testing, and more.

Dr. Granick said the small amount of time volunteered by each veterinary clinic helps ensure the data are more representative of the profession's antimicrobial use, and she's excited for the potential for collaboration by veterinarians across the country.

“Each individual practice could contribute data that could be really impactful,” she said.

Information on the survey is at arsi.umn.edu/gppps.


In a separate effort, researchers in the United Kingdom found that a program of education, reflection, and reviews of past practices and factors that may be connected with higher-than-average prescribing helped veterinarians reduce prescribing of antimicrobials considered critically important for human medicine. An article published March 11 in Nature Communications indicates the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Trust, which goes by RCVS Knowledge, plans to apply lessons from the study in developing a national antimicrobial stewardship program in collaboration with the hospital chain that hosted the study, CVS Group PLC.

The research group, from the University of Liverpool and CVS, divided veterinary practices with above-average antimicrobial prescribing into three groups: a high-intervention group, a low-intervention group, and a control group. The researchers told the intervention groups they were outliers and gave them one of two tiers of education and guidance about antimicrobial prescribing.

The study results indicate the high-intervention group had sharper overall reductions in antimicrobial prescribing over the low-intervention group, which also had lower overall administration in comparison with the control group. Eight months after the intervention began, the high-intervention group reduced prescribing of highly important antimicrobials for administration to cats by 40% and for administration to dogs by 23%, whereas the low-intervention group reduced prescribing of such drugs for administration to cats by 17% and showed no significant change in prescribing for dogs, according to the study results and a related announcement from RCVS Knowledge.


The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges is changing its name to the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges.

The shift in wording is meant to recognize the AAVMC's international member institutions and correctly indicate that these members are a part of an American-based association. The change also highlights the AAVMC's role as an international organization.

“Our international members told us that they wanted us to retain the word ‘American,’ indicating their association with the American accreditation system,” said Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe, CEO of the AAVMC, in an April 9 press release. “Because of that preference, the term ‘international’ was not included in the new name, even though institutions throughout the world are eligible to qualify for membership.”

The AAVMC began considering a name change when international colleges and schools became eligible for accreditation by the AVMA Council on Education. Currently, 22 of the 55 AVMA Council on Education–accredited veterinary colleges are outside of the U.S. The AAVMC also has 12 collaborative and provisional members from outside the U.S. that are not accredited by the COE.

The new name will not include a brand change and will preserve the abbreviation “AAVMC.” The change was effective as of April 9.


The National Academies of Practice, an interdisciplinary organization of health care practitioners and scholars, accepted five new fellows of the Veterinary Medicine Academy and inducted Jen Brandt, PhD, AVMA director of well-being and diversity initiatives, as a fellow of the Social Work Academy.

Dr. Brandt is a licensed independent social worker, grief and trauma therapist, and specialist in communications on health care teams. She founded the Honoring the Bond Program at The Ohio State University to recognize the human-animal bond by supporting animal owners and animal care professionals. She speaks at veterinary colleges and conferences and is a senior trainer and facilitator for the Institute for Healthcare Communication. Her seminars offer opportunities to promote diversity and inclusion, increase self-awareness, improve well-being and resilience, resolve conflict, and enhance team communication. She joined the AVMA staff in 2017.


Jen Brandt, PhD

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 10; 10.2460/javma.258.10.1027

Dr. Nelva Bryant (Cornell '93) started out in small animal clinical practice for a year, then completed additional training in veterinary pathology and joined the Army for three years. She transferred to the U.S. Public Health Service and held positions related to animal and public health. She gained knowledge of veterinary pathology, infectious and zoonotic diseases, veterinary public health, dog importation regulations, and national and international regulations on animal transportation. After retiring from the USPHS, she was employed by Delta Air Lines as staff veterinarian. In 2020, she founded DVM Transportation Consultants.


Dr. Nelva Bryant

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 10; 10.2460/javma.258.10.1027

Dr. Mark D. Markel (California-Davis '83) is dean of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine and collaborates on oversight of the UW-Madison Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education. An equine surgeon by training, he has been a UW-Madison faculty member since 1990, conducting research in comparative orthopedics. He was associate dean for advancement for the veterinary school for 11 years. He serves on the board of the AO Foundation, an interprofessional orthopedic foundation. He also is the 2021–22 president of the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges.


Dr. Mark D. Markel

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 10; 10.2460/javma.258.10.1027

Dr. Jonna Mazet (California-Davis '92) is a professor of epidemiology and disease ecology at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, where she founded the UC-Davis One Health Institute and was its first executive director. She is active in international one-health education, service, and research programs, notably in relation to pathogen emergence, disease transmission, and ecological drivers of new diseases. She is director of the U.S. Agency for International Development's One Health Workforce—Next Generation, a transdisciplinary educational project to help professionals in Africa and Asia address health threats.


Dr. Jonna Mazet

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 10; 10.2460/javma.258.10.1027

Dr. Katherine Pelican (Minnesota '97) was deputy director and principal investigator for the U.S. Agency for International Development's One Health Workforce Project that worked with universities in Africa and Asia to strengthen the multisectoral workforce responsible for addressing pandemic threats. She leads an international partnership to implement new one-health tools to improve multisectoral cooperation around infectious diseases, antimicrobial resistance, natural disasters, and other challenges. She is a founding co-director of the Strategic Partnerships and Research Collaborative at the University of Minnesota charged with establishing multidisciplinary programs to address global challenges.


Dr. Katherine Pelican

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 10; 10.2460/javma.258.10.1027

Dr. Charlene Siza (Auburn '13) is a public health veterinarian and epidemiologist who works at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an emergency public health epidemiologist. She is part of the Global Rapid Response Team, which assists countries on humanitarian and emergency responses. She has responded to outbreaks of Ebola, polio, and cholera in Africa and Zika virus in Brazil. Previously, she worked as a CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service officer at the Alabama Department of Public Health and as a small animal veterinarian in Nashville, Tennessee.


Dr. Charlene Siza

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 10; 10.2460/javma.258.10.1027


A new species of toxic blue-green algae has been identified as the cause of a neurologic disease that has been killing bald eagles and other animals in the southeastern United States for more than 25 years.

In a study published in Science on March 26, researchers from the University of Georgia and their international partners describe a new cyanobacterial species—Aetokthonos hydrillicola—growing on the leaves of an invasive water plant, Hydrilla verticillata, in human-made lakes when bromide is present.

Of the thousands of known cyanobacterial species, approximately 200 are known to be toxigenic, according to Greg Boyer, PhD, director of the Great Lakes Research Consortium and a professor of biochemistry at State University of New York. Those toxigenic species also happen to be among the most common.

Authors of the Science article noted that the algae-bromide combination they investigated produces a neurotoxin that causes avian vacuolar myelinopathy, a neurologic disease first diagnosed in 1994 in bald eagles. In addition to water fowl and birds of prey, vacuolar myelinopathy also affects amphibians, reptiles, and fish.

For decades, the cause of the disease had eluded researchers, but field and laboratory studies demonstrated that the neurotoxin that causes vacuolar myelinopathy can be transferred through the food chain, from herbivorous wildlife to birds of prey.

While vacuolar myelinopathy has not been seen in humans, the newly identified cyanobacteria and animal deaths from the disease have been documented in watersheds across the southeastern United States, leading researchers to encourage people to know the signs of infection in animals and avoid consuming them.

“We want people to recognize it before taking birds or fish from these lakes,” said Susan Wilde, PhD, an associate professor of aquatic science at the UGA Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources who discovered the cyanobacteria, in a statement.


From Science, March 26, 2021, Vol. 371, Issue 6536. Reprinted with permission from AAAS.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 10; 10.2460/javma.258.10.1027

In some animals, such as birds, turtles, and beavers, the disease manifests as erratic movements or convulsions.

“For fish, it's tough. I would avoid eating fish with lesions or some sort of deformities; we do see affected fish with slow swimming speeds, but anglers won't be able to see that,” Dr. Wilde said. “We want people to know the lakes where this disease has been documented and to use caution in consuming birds and fish from these lakes.”

To read the Science study, visit jav.ma/SciBloom.

Setting the stage for owners when senior pets develop behavior problems

Managing medical conditions, pain can help dogs, cats continue lifelong human-animal bond

By Malinda Larkin

With people spending more time at home during the pandemic, they have taken greater notice of the behavior of their pets. That very much includes senior pets, who are more apt to display behavioral issues for a number of reasons, mostly related to their higher risk for developing various medical conditions.


Top: Morris Animal Foundation is partnering with the Purina Institute to advance knowledge of canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome through the foundation's Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. By collecting data from the study's dog owners and veterinarians on signs of CDS, the two organizations are working to improve our understanding of CDS incidence, prevalence, and risk factors. New questions address behaviors related to learning and memory, disorientation, social interactions, sleep-wake cycles, house soiling, activity, and anxiety. (Courtesy of MAF) Bottom: This Scottish Fold cat is undergoing acupuncture. Dr. Bonnie Wright says veterinarians should be sensitive to the caregiver burden for owners of senior pets. One way to help is to use nondrug approaches to complement the use of medication for pain control. (Courtesy of Dr. Wright)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 10; 10.2460/javma.258.10.1027

Before pets even get to the geriatric stage, however, experts recommend veterinarians help owners understand what to expect and look for because any sudden change in behavior merits a review of the pet's physical status. Senior pets are likely to develop chronic, multifactoral conditions that typically require ongoing treatment. But these conditions can improve with a multifaceted approach that addresses medical, behavioral, and environmental management and includes—when indicated—drug treatment, with the goal of optimizing quality of life and interactions for both owners and pets while maintaining the human-animal bond.


It is well known that as humans age, the body changes, and pain becomes more commonplace.

“We don't fully appreciate how senior pets are different, even if they do not necessarily have severe pathologies,” said Dr. Carlo Siracusa, associate professor of clinical behavior medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and president of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.

Normal aging changes in pets can add up to decreased coping abilities as a result of conditions such as sensory impairment, decreased immune or gastrointestinal function, or changes in microbiota, said Dr. Ilona Rodan, owner of Cat Behavior Solutions and the former owner of Cat Care Clinic in Madison, Wisconsin.

Behavior observations are a noninvasive way for veterinarians to assess these medical issues in old age. At the same time, Dr. Rodan acknowledged how challenging it can be for practitioners to parse what is behind behavior changes in senior pets given that there are so many potential causes.

“When talking about senior cats, you're talking about comorbid conditions. You could have chronic kidney disease going on with osteoarthritis, urine marking, soiling, and a myriad of intercat conflicts,” she said during her talk “Senior Cat Behavior” for the Morris Animal Foundation's Feline Behavior Lecture Series 2021. “With senior cats, no doubt about it, they have more behavior changes, and they have more behavior problems.”

A recent survey of cat owners showed that about 28% of cats aged 11–14 years develop signs of behavioral issues and cognitive decline, with prevalence increasing to over 50% in cats 15 or older.

Dr. Rodan also cited a 2012 study of 100 cats aged 12–22 years with behavior problems. The study found 61% of the cats vocalized excessively, of which 31% did so at night. In addition, 27% of cats had urine soiling or marking, 22% had disorientation, 19% had aimless wandering, and 18% had restlessness.

Among senior cats, osteoarthritis is the most common medical condition causing behavior changes. A 2010 study of 100 cats between 6 months and 20 years found that 92% had radiographic evidence of degenerative joint disease. For each year increase in cat age, the expected total DJD score increases by an estimated 13.6%. Dr. Rodan noted that cats with OA often have chronic kidney disease, saying 68.8% of cats with one condition have the other concurrently. Behavior changes or problems in cats with OA include inactivity, changes in relationships, and house soiling.

“The pain may lead to a breakdown of the social bond with another companion animal or the owner,” she said. “It's tragic for owners, and we see it all the time.”

Other common medical issues that cause behavior issues for senior cats are hypertension, hyperthyroidism, and diabetes mellitus, while less common causes are GI disease, other endocrine disorders, hepatic disease, neoplasia, and neurologic disease.

Dr. Bonnie Wright, a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia, says new behavior issues, especially in senior cats, are often related to pain. She mentioned several sources of pain that can lead to litter box issues, such as arthritis making it difficult to get in and out of the box or pelvic pain that relates to urinary issues. Cats can also become less friendly with other cats in the household as they try to protect themselves from painful interactions.

“Anything that develops in elderly cats should be looked at through the lens of pain and medical conditions,” Dr. Wright said.

Fear and anxiety are often coupled with pain, Dr. Rodan said in her talk. When evaluating senior behavior issues, she advised, first rule out illness, pain, and sensory decline. Then think about emotional distress, including frustration, fear and anxiety, and unmet needs. Cognitive dysfunction is a diagnosis of exclusion.

“If you take away one thing from this talk, senior cats have decreased coping ability, and that can lead to fear and anxiety,” Dr. Rodan said.

Cognitive dysfunction is a potentially underdiagnosed condition in senior cats. The condition has been estimated to affect 28–36% of cats aged 7–14 years, 50% aged 15 years or older, and 88% aged 16–19 years, according to a 2007 study in the Journal of Small Animal Practitioners.

Behavioral changes related to CD in cats are spelled out with the acronym VISHDAAL: inappropriate vocalization, especially at night; altered social interaction with the family or other pets; changes in sleep patterns; house soiling; spatial and temporal disorientation, such as forgetting the location of the litter box or that they have been fed; changes in activity, such as aimless wandering; anxiety; and learning and memory deficits. The 2007 study found excessive vocalization and aimless activity to be the most commonly reported problems in the oldest age group.

“We don't know much about CD, about its etiology, or how to diagnose it,” Dr. Rodan said. “It's a real problem.”

A study that came out last year looked at owner perception of the causes of increased vocalization in cats with cognitive dysfunction and what impact it had on the cat's household. Owners reported that the main cause of their cat's vocalization appeared to be disorientation (40.5%) or attention seeking (40.5%). When owners were asked how stressful they found their cat's increased vocalization to be, 40.5% scored it as stressful to significantly stressful.


“Owners tend to note a lot what causes a change in their routine and their quality of life,” especially waking up at night or elimination issues, and not necessarily the more subtle behavior changes, Dr. Siracusa said.

He has also noticed that it's dog owners who more often come to see him than cat owners. “Not that it (behavior change) doesn't happen in cats, but cat owners tend to be much more tolerant of changes,” Dr. Siracusa said.

Plus, cats, while they've learned to live with humans, don't communicate as frequently or expansively as dogs do with their owners, he said.

In senior dogs, the most common sources of pain and discomfort are musculoskeletal and gastrointestinal disease, said Dr. Marsha R. Reich, owner of Maryland-Virginia Veterinary Behavioral Consulting, a behavioral house call practice based out of Silver Spring, Maryland. She gave the talk “Behavior Problems of Senior Dogs and Cats” at the AVMA Virtual Convention 2020.

With musculoskeletal disease in dogs, the source of pain usually is arthritis, muscle aches, or another joint disease. With GI disorders, pain sources include inflammatory bowel disease, food intolerance or allergy, or dietary indiscretion facilitated by owners. With neurologic disease, the source of pain usually is spinal cord issues, disk issues, or lumbosacral compression.

“The pet can have a combination of problems, and, unfortunately, weight gain from any cause, including tumors, can exacerbate musculoskeletal disease,” Dr. Reich said.

Some dogs age in a way that may not directly affect their day-to-day activities or relationship with their owners, while for others, their declining performance may compromise these things. A 2011 study in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior reported that some old dogs—those 8 years or older and of various breeds—even if aging normally, might encounter rapid age-related deterioration in activity, play, and responses to commands and an increase in fears and phobias within a six-month period.

Another study that appeared in 2001 in JAVMA reported that 28% of dogs aged 11–12 years had impairments in one or more of the following categories: disorientation, interaction changes, sleep or wake disturbances, house soiling and activity changes, anxiety and sense of smell, and learning and memory. Further, 10% of them had impairments in two or more categories. In contrast, 68% of dogs aged 15–16 years had impairments in one or more categories, and 35% of them had impairments in two or more categories.


Dr. Carlo Siracusa is director of the Companion Animal Behavior Medicine service at Ryan Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. He works with companion animal owners to develop treatments for behavior issues, including behavior issues in senior pets. (Courtesy of Dr. Siracusa)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 10; 10.2460/javma.258.10.1027

When thinking about behavior problems in senior pets, Dr. Reich divides them into three categories: primary, which often are seen at a younger age; secondary to a medical issue; and cognitive dysfunction.

“If the behavior problem is secondary, it will be difficult to resolve it unless the medical problem is addressed,” she said. “The possibility of CDS (cognitive dysfunction syndrome) maybe looms in the background, but it is a diagnosis of exclusion.”

The clinical signs for CDS in dogs can be summarized by the acronym DISHAA, which refers to disorientation, a decrease in social interactions, changes in sleep-wake cycles, a loss of prior house training, increased anxiety, and changes in level of activity. A decrease in the ability to find dropped food has also been reported for dogs in which CDS has been diagnosed.

“Interestingly, it is rather unclear to what extent the pet dog population is affected by CDS,” according to the 2018 scientific article “Cognitive Aging in Dogs” that appeared in Gerontology. “This is partly due to the high degree of variability in how dogs age and to the lack of systematic CDS evaluation criteria.”

In 2011, Dr. Hannah E. Salvin and others developed a CDS rating scale for the diagnosis of cognitive dysfunction in dogs and reported the prevalence to be 14.2% in pet dogs over 8 years old, in contrast to the diagnosis rate of 1.9%. Overall, when including different studies, the prevalence of CDS in the population of dogs 8 years or older is estimated to range from 14.2%-22.5% and to increase exponentially with increasing age.


Maintaining social interactions can be important for senior cats. Behavior changes or problems in cats, including intercat conflict, can indicate medical issues such as osteoarthritis. (Courtesy of Dr. Bonnie Wright)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 10; 10.2460/javma.258.10.1027


Food puzzle toys—bought or homemade—provide mental stimulation and activity for senior pets.(Courtesy of Dr. Ilona Rodan)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 10; 10.2460/javma.258.10.1027


For all of these medical conditions in senior pets, Dr. Siracusa says, simply having a good yearly examination, complete blood count, and laboratory tests as well as a urinalysis every six months should be enough to catch them.

“You don't need to look for very strange things; just be consistent and be a good observer,” he said.

In human medicine, when patients reach a certain age, they are screened for certain changes or conditions. Dr. Siracusa would like to see the same thing for veterinary patients.

“I don't wait for the owner to report because when it becomes so visible for the owner to report, it's probably at an advanced stage,” Dr. Siracusa said.

He recommends veterinarians research the many available questionnaires and pain scales available and modify them to what works best for their clinic.

When asking owners questions, he said, “You have to give very specific examples. You can't ask if their pet is OK or if they've seen anything strange because they'll say it's OK. It's partly on the owner, but a great deal of responsibility is on veterinarians.

“I think it's important for veterinarians to be trained to recognize the signs, but not everybody is trained to recognize dog or cat behavior. If we want to use behavior as a health marker, then we have to be trained to read these markers.”

Dr. Rodan emphasized the need to eliminate fear in veterinary practices and to handle senior cats as if they are potentially painful because so many are. For example, during the physical examination, she recommends gently handling cats instead of using full-body restraint, clipnosis, or scruffing. Gentle handling has proven to be more efficient and safer. When measuring blood pressure, Dr. Rodan said, realize that cats don't like their feet being held tightly. It is good to come from behind the humerus and move forward.

Dr. Wright recommends that senior cats have a physical examination, thyroid evaluation, abdominal palpation, and assessment for chronic kidney disease as well as a myofascial examination. “You can tell a lot about pain and some of the internal structures that share neurologic wiring,” she said.

The American Association of Feline Practitioners will release the 2021 AAFP Senior Care Guidelines and associated supplemental resources in the July issue of the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, which will have a section on what to include when performing a physical examination on senior cats.

Dr. Reich likes to watch dogs as they are walking so she can see if the rear end is swaying from side to side or if there is a head bob. She'll also perform an orthopedic examination, if the dog's temperament allows it. Client videos of dogs on different surfaces and in different situations can help, too, for dogs that don't like smooth flooring or whose feet slide, which means they likely have orthopedic disease.

“There needs to be detective work to determine whether a medical problem is going on, but I don't let those turn into fishing expeditions,” Dr. Reich said. “You can't run every test, and it can be frustrating.”

Dr. Siracusa and Dr. Federica Pirrone, a research fellow at the University of Milan, are studying how chronic inflammation affects cognition, behavior, and the overall health of senior cats. The two researchers and their teams will study 100 client-owned cats that are 7 years of age or older. First they will perform a routine veterinary examination on each cat to look for signs of chronic inflammation, including specific blood markers and physical changes. Then they will assess the cats' behavior, their living environment, and their cognitive abilities using validated questionnaires and behavioral tests.

“Ideally, this study could lead to development of innovative tools for early detection and monitoring of chronic inflammation that affects the long-term well-being of feline patients,” said Dr. Janet Patterson-Kane, chief scientific officer of the Morris Animal Foundation, which awarded a grant for the study to Dr. Siracusa.


Treatment for senior pets will often be multimodal, with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as the medication of choice for musculoskeletal conditions. Gabapentin can be useful for neuropathic pain, Dr. Rodan said, especially because 25% of cats with OA have neuropathic pain. She personally recommends using Greenies pill pockets or Royal Canin's Pill Assist, which allow owners to hide medication inside cat treats, or gel capsules, which allow owners to put multiple medications together in each capsule to reduce the number of pills.

Something to keep in mind is that caregiver burden is a real concern, said Dr. Bonnie Wright, an integrative pain management specialist.

“As you get cats with multiple conditions, there is not only a financial implication to that but also a relationship implication,” Dr. Wright said. “The more time you ask them (caregivers) to get medications in cats, that can degrade relations.

“You have to be sensitive to that issue and keep it in the conversation. I try to be sure I'm not just adding drugs, but I'm helping them with weight reduction and movement and exercise and other physical approaches to pain, not just purely pharmacologically focused. There's a lot they can do that is positive with the cat that is managing other lifestyle things, such as how the house is set up or their favorite perching area is set up, that can improve the relationship.”

Recognizing that physical activity is analgesic, being more active is a form of pain relief, Dr. Wright said. Environmental modification can help pets be more active around the house. For example, she'll have owners feed cats or have cats find food in different places, which can help those that are more food motivated. This also serves to keep the brain active, which helps with cognitive dysfunction.

“Physical games are also mind games. It's important to keep the body and brain active” in senior pets, she said.

Dr. Rodan referenced the importance of the five pillars of a healthy feline environment from the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the International Society of Feline Medicine:

  • Provide a safe place, which means safe resting areas in the cat's core territory with easy access and also sides so the cat feels hidden.

  • Provide multiple and separated key environmental resources: food, water, toileting areas, scratching areas, play areas, and resting or sleeping areas. If there are two stories, resources need to be on each floor and not in a narrow hallway or closet where a cat can be stalked or blocked.

  • Provide opportunity for play and predatory behavior to simulate normal hunting and foraging.

  • Provide positive, consistent, and predictable human-cat social interaction.

  • Provide an environment that respects the importance of the cat's sense of smell.

“Regardless of cognitive dysfunction, senior cats have more difficulty coping with change, and routine is very important,” Dr. Rodan said.

Environmental modification for arthritic dogs may involve soft resting areas or ramps to facilitate getting on and off beds or sofas; traction aids on stairs; and carpet runners over smooth flooring.

If GI disease is suspected, working up the disease and treating it should help the problem. Nonspecific treatments include anti-nausea medications, prebiotics, probiotics, appetite stimulants, and limited-ingredient or hydrolyzed-protein diets, Dr. Reich said.

Complaints related to house soiling can be a result of renal disease, lower urinary tract disease, hyperadrenocorticism, diabetes mellitus, and liver disease, among others.

“Some problems are not easily resolved. The dog may need to be taken out more frequently, and sometimes dogs will have urgency to defecate, and the owner may miss signaling that the dog needs to go out,” Dr. Reich said. “One of the really big things about house soiling is the owner needs to be present to make sure the dog eliminates outside. They can't just stand at the door and assume the dog is going and wait until it comes in.”

Dr. Reich said special diets—pointing out Hill's Prescription Diet b/d or Purina One Vibrant Maturity 7+ as examples—or medications and supplements can improve signs and slow the progress of CDS in senior dogs. Making gradual changes to the dog's household or routine can also help it adapt better.

“We can't stop aging, but we can help signs of it become less problematic,” Dr. Reich said.


The AVMA offers answers to frequently asked questions from pet owners about the care of senior pets at jav.ma/seniorpets.

United Kingdom–based International Cat Care provides a guide on how to feed cats, advising cat owners to divide their cat's daily food ration into five portions to mimic cats' natural feeding habit of eating little and often. The guide is available at jav.ma/5dayfelix (PDF).

The American Association of Feline Practitioners provides client resources on senior cats at catfriendly.com/category-page/seniors and information for veterinarians at catvets.com, including details about the AAFP's Cat Friendly Practice program.

The Purina Institute, which promotes global collaboration and knowledge exchange about nutritional science for pets, has information at purinainstitute.com,

Hill's Pet Nutrition offers a checklist for owners of senior pets at jav.ma/seniorchecklist.

The Dog Aging Project aims to enroll 10,000 dogs in a longitudinal study, funded by the National Institute on Aging, to identify the genetic and environmental factors that influence healthy aging. Dog owners can visit dogagingproject.org for more information.

Dr. Ilona Rodan, a past president of the AAFP, shows in a video posted with the online version of this story at jav.ma/senior how owners can help cats understand what it's like to be examined at the veterinary clinic so they are more comfortable when they come in.




Annual meeting, held virtually, Feb. 19–21


Distinguished Service Award

Dr. Susan Moon (Louisiana State '84), Memphis. Following graduation, Dr. Moon joined Brooks Road Animal Hospital in Memphis, taking ownership of the practice in 1990. A past president of the Tennessee VMA, she serves as its alternate delegate to the AVMA House of Delegates. Dr. Moon is a member of the Memphis and Shelby County VMAs and is a trustee of the Tennessee Veterinary Medical Foundation.


Dr. Susan Moon

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 10; 10.2460/javma.258.10.1027

Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr. Rebecca Gompf (Ohio State '75), Knoxville. A diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine in cardiology, Dr. Gompf recently retired from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, where she served as an associate professor and as a cardiologist in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences. She is a past president of the Knoxville Animal Control Board and a past chair of the Knox County Board of Health Advisory Committee and Knox County's Disaster Animal Response Team.


Dr. Rebecca Gompf

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 10; 10.2460/javma.258.10.1027


Drs. Tai Federico, Chattanooga, president; Bob Parker, Bartlett, president-elect; Forrest Reynolds, Franklin, vice president; Margaret “Midge” Phillips, Franklin, secretary-treasurer; and Matt Povlovich, Thompson's Station, immediate past president


Dr. Tai Federico

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 10; 10.2460/javma.258.10.1027


Dr. Bob Parker

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 10; 10.2460/javma.258.10.1027


The Ohio VMA held its annual meeting virtually Feb. 16–20. During the meeting, the association elected the following new officials: Drs. Ed Biggie, Millersport, president; Barb Musolf, Spencer, president-elect; Eric Gordon, Marysville, vice president; Diana Cron, Cincinnati, secretary; Kevin Corcoran, Xenia, treasurer; Greg Hass, Findlay, immediate past president; and AVMA delegate and alternate delegate—Drs. Liesa Stone, Cedarville, and Scott Pendleton, Cadiz


Dr. Ed Biggie

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 10; 10.2460/javma.258.10.1027


Dr. Barb Musolf

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 10; 10.2460/javma.258.10.1027


The American College of Veterinary Surgeons welcomed new diplomates following its board certification examination that was held virtually on Feb. 22. The new diplomates are as follows:


Kimberly Ann Aeschlimann, Columbia, Missouri

Kristin Lorraine Bailey, Austin, Texas

Kara A. Berke, Manhattan, Kansas

Callie LaMoin Blackford Winders, Roseville, Minnesota

Jonathan Andrew Blakely, San Antonio

Kenneth Joseph Brand, Parker, Colorado

Kelsey Kovach Cappelle, Columbus, Ohio

Jonathan Michael Coffman, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Christina L. Cramer, West Bridgewater, Massachusetts

Anastacia M. Davis, Christiansburg, Virginia

Cody Phillip Doyle, Madisonville, Louisiana

Michael Ficklin, Spring, Texas

Kendra Freeman, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Kristin Ann Freund, Highlands Ranch, Colorado

Erin A. Gibson, Davis, California

Amy B. Gifford, Richmond, Virginia

Hadley Eliza Gleason, Champaign, Illinois

Maureen A. Griffin, Fort Collins, Colorado

Michaela Gruenheid, Malvern, Pennsylvania

Morgan Claire Hackett, Durham, North Carolina

Whitney Danielle Hinson, Athens, Georgia

Christopher Lee Hoffman, Falcon Heights, Minnesota

Maureen Jay, Okemos, Michigan

Thomas Patrick Keeshen, Laguna Niguel, California

Janis Marie Lapsley, Columbus, Ohio

Zoe Alexandra Launcelott, Howell, New Jersey

Justin Lavallee, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Christopher Edward Lee, Metairie, Louisiana

Daniel James Lopez, Ithaca, New York

Maxime Lorange, Montreal, Quebec

Hilary Christine Ludwig, Santa Barbara, California

Lea Rose Mehrkens, Toronto

Kurt Michelotti, Pittsburgh

Brianna Marie Miniter, St. Petersburg, Florida

Jiaying Ng, Nunawading, Australia

Anastasia Olsen, Olympia, Washington

Raz Peress, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Allison Brooke Putterman, Wilmington, North Carolina

Kyle Restle, Louisville, Kentucky

Cleo Piassa Rogatko, Springfield, Virginia

Allyson Anna Sterman, Lafayette, Indiana

Elizabeth Ann Stewart, Paradise Valley, Arizona

Jed Sung, Flushing, New York

Alex Terreros, Saint-Hubert, Quebec

Blake M. Travis, Nashville, Tennessee

Valentine Denise Verpaalen, Jefferson, Georgia

David Bradley Worth, San Antonio

Benjamin Yarnall, Manchester, Missouri

Spencer Yeh, Boston

Helia Zamprogno, Oslo, Norway


Jessica Hanna Bramski, Waterford, New York

Thomas Edward Cullen, Davis, California

Benjamin Dubois, Campbellville, Ontario

Elizabeth Jane Elzer, Lexington, Kentucky

James Blake Everett, Blacksburg, Virginia

Angela Marie Gaesser, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

Rebecca Gilday, Tampa, Florida

Sarah Marie Gray, Blacksburg, Virginia

Drew William Koch, Raleigh, North Carolina

Clarisa Ruth Krueger, Baker, Louisiana

Christine T. Lopp-Schurter, Starkville, Mississippi

Lauren Kelli Luedke, Stewartstown, Pennsylvania

Victoria Clare McIver, Sale, Australia

Lauren Nicole Mundy, Thompsons Station, Tennessee

Bridgette Peal, Sullivan, Wisconsin

Jannah Louise Pye, Davis, California

Claudia Love Reyner, Auburn, Alabama

Jase Andrew Skelton, Whitesboro, Texas

Stasia Nise Sullivan, Columbus, Ohio

Jenna Marie Young, Roseville, Minnesota




Dr. Anders (Ohio State '82), 65, Coldwater, Ohio, died Sept. 23, 2020. He owned County Animal Clinic, a mixed animal practice in Coldwater. Dr. Anders had a special interest in holistic medicine and veterinary chiropractic care and was a certified canine rehabilitation practitioner and veterinary acupuncturist. He is survived by his wife, Beverly; a son and a daughter; two grandchildren; and two sisters. Memorials may be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Donor Services, P.O. Box 98018, Washington, DC 20090, or to The Cancer Association of Mercer County, P.O. Box 624, Celina, OH 45822.


Dr. Blesch (Michigan State '59), 88, Sturgis, Michigan, died Dec. 22, 2020. He owned Sturgis Veterinary Hospital for 25 years. Dr. Blesch also farmed for most of his life. He was a past president of the Sturgis Kennel Club and was treasurer of the club at the time of his death. Dr. Blesch served two terms as a St. Joseph County commissioner. He was an Army veteran of the Korean War, attaining the rank of first lieutenant. Dr. Blesch's wife, Karen; a daughter, three sons, and two stepsons; 25 grandchildren; 22 great-grandchildren; and two sisters and two brothers survive him. Memorials may be made to Paws with a Cause, 4646 Division Ave. S., Wayland, MI 49348, or to America's VetDogs, 371 E. Jericho Turnpike, Smithtown, NY 11787.


Dr. Conley (Texas A&M ‘74), 69, Quanah, Texas, died Dec. 8, 2020. He co-owned Main Street Veterinary Clinic, a mixed animal practice in Vernon, Texas, with his son, Dr. Robert Conley (Texas A&M ‘06). Following graduation and until 2015, Dr. Conley owned Quanah Veterinary Clinic. He was a member of the Texas VMA. Dr. Conley is survived by his wife, Billie; two sons; three grandchildren; and a brother. Memorials may be made to Northwest Texas A&M Club, c/o Jamie Chapman, P.O. Box 1754, Vernon, TX 76384.


Dr. Elliott (California-Davis '84), 67, Santa Rosa, California, died Oct. 27, 2020. She was a small animal veterinarian. Dr. Elliott is survived by her husband, Perry Lynch, and her family.


Dr. Hall (Pennsylvania '65), 81, Orlando, Florida, died Oct. 12, 2020. He owned Powers Drive Animal Hospital, a small animal practice in Orlando, prior to retirement. Dr. Hall is survived by his wife, Sandy; a daughter; and two grandchildren.


Dr. Kelsey (Texas A&M '45), 96, Lawton, Oklahoma, died Dec. 3, 2020. Following graduation, he founded Kelsey Veterinary Clinic in Lawton. In 1982, Dr. Kelsey served on a team of veterinarians who traveled to China as part of a cultural exchange program. After his retirement in 1995, he farmed and raised cattle. Dr. Kelsey was a past president of the Oklahoma VMA. He was also a past president of the Lawton Kiwanis Club and a past governor of the Kiwanis Texas-Oklahoma District. Dr. Kelsey served as chair of the board of directors of the Comanche County Industrial Development Authority, working with various companies to bring jobs to the community. He is survived by his wife, Sidonia; six daughters and a son; 23 grandchildren; and 53 great-grandchildren.


Dr. Laraway (Florida '90), 58, Keystone Heights, Florida, died Nov. 9, 2020. He served as chief of staff at Shelton Veterinary Clinic in Interlachen, Florida. Dr. Laraway had a special interest in wildlife and small ruminant medicine. His wife, Susan; four daughters; and a brother survive him. Memorials may be made to Safe Animal Shelter, 2913 County Road 220, Middleburg, FL 32068.


Dr. Madden (Kansas State '58), 88, Sykesville, Maryland, died Feb. 13, 2021. Following graduation and after earning his doctorate in veterinary microbiology and pathology in 1963 from Purdue University, he joined the U.S. Public Health Service. During his career with the USPHS, Dr. Madden worked at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, except for four years when he served as a science attache at the American embassy in New Delhi, India, from 1988–92. He retired with the rank of captain in 1993. Dr. Madden subsequently served as a professor of veterinary microbiology at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. He was a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists.

Dr. Madden was a veteran of the Air Force, National Guard, and Army Reserves. He volunteered with the American Red Cross and was active with scouting, serving in various capacities, including scoutmaster, for troops in the U.S. and in India. Dr. Madden is survived by his wife, Nancy; a son, a daughter, and two stepsons; six grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and a brother and a sister. Memorials may be made to Murray Hill United Methodist Church, 4101 College St., Jacksonville, FL 32205, or St. Paul's United Methodist Church, 7538 Main St., Sykesville, MD 21784.


Dr. Maycumber (Washington State ‘56), 96, Republic, Washington, died Sept. 19, 2020. He practiced mixed animal medicine in Tonasket, Washington, for more than 40 years. Dr. Maycumber served on the Washington State Veterinary Board of Governors for several years. He was a Navy veteran of World War II and the Korean War. Dr. Maycumber was a member of the American Legion for 70 years and served in the honor guard at veterans’ funerals in Washington state's Okanogan and Ferry counties. He was active with the U.S. Armed Forces Legacy Project in Tonasket, honoring living and deceased veterans with plaques.

Dr. Maycumber is survived by two sons, two grandchildren, a great-grandchild, and a brother. Memorials may be made to Holy Rosary Catholic Church, 103 N. Whitcomb Ave., Tonasket, WA 98855, or to the U.S. Armed Forces Legacy Project, P.O. Box 854, Tonasket, WA 98855.


Dr. Miller (Guelph '62), 84, Chatsworth, Ontario, died Dec. 30, 2020. He began his career practicing in Markdale, Ontario. In 1965, Dr. Miller moved to La Plata, Maryland, where he worked in animal health at the University of Maryland. In 1968, he returned to Canada and established a practice on a farm near Chatsworth, serving the area for 33 years until retirement. Dr. Miller's wife, Marian; two daughters and a son; two grandchildren; and a brother survive him. Memorials may be made to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 200 Vesey St., 28th Floor, New York, NY 10281.


Dr. Owings (Missouri '55), 91, Unionville, Missouri, died Feb. 3, 2021. He owned Unionville Veterinary Clinic, where he practiced mixed animal medicine for more than 60 years. Dr. Owings also served as veterinarian-in-charge for the Putnam County Feeder Calf Sale from 1960–90, for the Unionville Livestock Market and Unionville Sale Barn for a total of 55 years between the two, and for the Centerville Livestock Market in Centerville, Iowa, for 30 years. He was a lifetime member of the Missouri VMA, serving on several of its committees.

Active in his community, Dr. Owings was a member of the Unionville City Council, serving as mayor of Unionville for two terms in the 1970s. He also served as Putnam County 4-H Beef Project leader and supported the Putnam County Junior Livestock Sale. Dr. Owings received several honors, including being named Putnam County Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Month and grand marshal of the Putnam County R-1 Homecoming Parade for the Putnam County R-1 School District. He also received the Putnam County R-1 Elementary Character Education Award.

Dr. Owings is survived by a daughter, three sons, 12 grandchildren, and 18 great-grandchildren. Memorials, with the memo of the checks notated to Baby Bottle Show, may be made to Putnam County Fair and sent c/o Playle & Collins Family Funeral Home, 709 S. 27th, Unionville, MO 63565.


Dr. Pilchard (Michigan State '47), 95, Silver Spring, Maryland, died Dec. 23, 2020. He began his career practicing in Springfield, Illinois. Dr. Pilchard subsequently served in the Air Force during the Korean War. He later worked for local practices in Illinois at Mason City and Kewanee, before establishing his own mixed animal practice in Kewanee. Dr. Pilchard then joined the University of Illinois as a pathologist. He went on to direct the university's veterinary diagnostic laboratory. After earning a master's and a doctorate in viral immunology, he became a professor of veterinary science at the university. Dr. Pilchard later oversaw the newly established Center for Zoonoses Research at the university.

In 1969, he joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. Dr. Pilchard traveled to universities and land-grant colleges nationwide to inspect, evaluate, and assist with their research activities. He later served as a senior staff veterinarian with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Dr. Pilchard retired in 1992. During his career with the USDA, he took a year's sabbatical to Cornell University, where he audited graduate courses, conducted research, and established a regional research project on bovine immunology.

Dr. Pilchard was a past president of the District of Columbia VMA and an inductee of Sigma Xi, the scientific research honor society. He is survived by a daughter, a son, and a sister. Memorials may be made to Days End Farm Horse Rescue, 1372 Woodbine Road, Woodbine, MD 21797, or to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, P.O. Box 96929, Washington, DC 20090.


Dr. Ross (Ohio State '65), 80, Marco Island, Florida, died Feb. 25, 2021. Known as a founding father of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, he retired as a distinguished professor emeritus in 2006.

Following graduation, Dr. Ross continued his education at The Ohio State's veterinary college, receiving his master's in veterinary physiology and pharmacology in 1967. He then joined the faculty at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, with joint appointments in the physiology and surgery departments. In 1972, Dr. Ross earned his doctorate in cardiovascular physiology from Baylor. He remained at the medical college until 1974, working and conducting research with cardiothoracic surgeons in the artificial heart program, focusing on veterinary cardiology. Dr. Ross then joined what is now known as the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences in Toledo, Ohio, serving as an associate professor of physiology and as head of the canine cardiac clinic.

In 1981, he was named a professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences and chair of the Department of Medicine at the newly established School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. During his tenure, Dr. Ross served as a veterinary cardiologist, was chair of internal medicine, and directed the Henry and Lois Foster Hospital for Small Animals at the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center. He also established a feral cat project on Virgin Gorda in the Caribbean. Dr. Ross was instrumental in the shaping of the small animal medical curriculum at Tufts; helped acquire Tufts Veterinary Emergency Treatment & Specialties, a community-based teaching hospital in Walpole, Massachusetts; and was an advocate for veterinary education and for training and mentorship. Following his retirement from Tufts, he served as a cardiologist and was director of emergency and critical care at Cape Cod Veterinary Specialists in Buzzard Bay, Massachusetts, for a few years.

Dr. Ross was a charter diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care and a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine in cardiology. He served on the AVMA Council on Education from 1989–95, representing veterinary medical research. Dr. Ross was a past president of the American Association of Veterinary Clinicians, Academy of Veterinary Cardiology, Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society, and Massachusetts VMA, and he served as executive secretary and treasurer of the ACVECC from its inception until 2005. He was active with the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs, American College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia, American Heart Association, American Association for Laboratory Animal Science, Texas Academy of Veterinary Practice, and the Texas, Ohio, and Harris County VMAs.

In 1997, Dr. Ross received the AAVC Faculty Achievement Award. In 1998, the Massachusetts VMA honored him with a Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to cardiology and to the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Ross was named a Distinguished Alumnus in 2000 by The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

He is survived by his wife, Tanya; three daughters; and five grandchildren. Memorials may be made to the Veterinary Scholarship Trust of New England, P.O. Box 3221, North Attleboro, MA 02761, veterinaryscholarshiptrust.org/donate, or to the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Foundation, 6335 Camp Bullis Road #12, San Antonio, TX 78257, veccf.org.


Dr. Smith (Kansas State '58), 86, Lexington, Kentucky, died Dec. 28, 2020. An equine veterinarian, he worked for Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington for more than 40 years, serving during that time as a senior partner.

Dr. Smith was a past president of the Kentucky Association of Equine Practitioners and was a past secretary and treasurer of the American Association of Equine Practitioners. He was active with the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council, Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, and Association of Racing Commissioners International's Quality Assurance Program Committee. Dr. Smith served on the AVMA Committee on Environmental Issues from 1998–2001.

In 1990, the ARCI honored him with the Joan F. Pew Award for his work as a racing commissioner. Dr. Smith was the recipient of the Kansas State University Veterinary Medical Alumni Association's E.R. Frank Award in 1992. In 2003, Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine and the Veterinary Medical Alumni Association honored him with the Distinguished Alumni Award. Dr. Smith was also commissioned a Kentucky Colonel by the commonwealth of Kentucky.

He was a member of the Rotary Club, served on the Fayette County Board of Education, and was a member of the board of directors of the Kentucky Equine Adoption Center. Dr. Smith was active with Birthright of Lexington, a nonprofit pregnancy resource center, receiving its Louise Summerhill Award in 2017.

Dr. Smith is survived by his wife, Judy; 10 children; nine grandchildren; and two siblings. Memorials may be made to the Kentucky Equine Adoption Center, P.O. Box 910124, Lexington, KY 40591, or to St. Paul Catholic Church, 425 W. Short St., Lexington, KY 40507.

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