AVMA NEWS

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IN SHORT

VETERINARY FACULTY MEMBERS ELECTED AS AAAS FELLOWS

The Council of the American Association for the Advancement of Science announced Jan. 26 the 2021 class of AAAS fellows. AAAS fellows are a distinguished group of scientists, engineers, and innovators recognized for their achievements across multiple disciplines, including research, academia, and government. Among the fellows announced were at least six faculty members at U.S. veterinary colleges. They are as follows:

Section on Medical Sciences

  • Dr. David Edgar Anderson, University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.

  • Dr. Christine Kreuder Johnson, University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

  • Dr. Cheryl Rosenfeld, University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine.

Section on Biological Sciences

  • Paula Cohen, PhD, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

  • Xiang-Jin Meng, PhD, Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.

  • Stephen H. Safe, PhD, Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

Visit jav.ma/aaas for an expanded version of this story that includes biographies and areas of expertise for the fellows mentioned.

AVMA OFFERS RESOURCE ON HARMFUL ALGAL BLOOMS

A new online AVMA resource on harmful algal blooms helps veterinarians diagnose and treat HAB toxicosis and offers tips on preventing animal exposure to these environmental dangers.

Harmful algal blooms are a rapid growth of algae or cyanobacteria that appear like foam, paint, or scum on the surface of water. These blooms can be of various colors and occur in both freshwater and saltwater. Harmful blooms produce toxins harmful to people and animals who come into contact with tainted water.

The AVMA webpage, located at jav.ma/HABs, covers the various kinds of HABs and the diseases they cause. The page also includes reporting procedures to state and federal agencies.

NATIONAL DOG BITE PREVENTION WEEK COMING UP IN APRIL

To help educate the public and reduce the estimated 4.5 million dog bites per year, the AVMA is once again sponsoring National Dog Bite Prevention Week, held this year from April 10-16.

Members of the AVMA can spread the message to their clients and communities with the AVMA's member toolkit for preventing dog bites, which features clinic materials and tools, posts for social media, and information on why the AVMA believes that breed-specific legislation is an ineffective response to the problem of dog bites.

The member toolkit and publicly available resources are at the AVMA's National Dog Bite Prevention Week website at jav.ma/biteweek.

When death comes suddenly to a pet

Certain causes are common in cats and dogs, veterinarians can help grieving owners

By Katie Burns

The scenario is often something like this: Pet owners come home to find their cat or dog dead, unexpectedly, with no sign of what exactly went wrong.

The pet owners in this situation often turn to their veterinarian. Depending on the timing, they might turn to an emergency practice instead.

In some cases, a veterinarian can determine the cause of death without too much difficulty. In other cases, the pet owners might choose to pursue a necropsy.

Little exists in the veterinary literature about sudden unexpected death in cats and dogs. A pair of studies came out of the University of Saskatchewan Western College of Veterinary Medicine in 2000 and 2001, “Causes of sudden and unexpected death in dogs: a 10-year retrospective study” and “Causes of sudden and unexpected death in cats: a 10-year retrospective study,” both published in The Canadian Veterinary Journal.

The studies examined records of dogs and cats over 6 weeks of age, previously presumed to be healthy but presented to the veterinary college for a postmortem examination. The top five causes of sudden unexpected death among 151 dogs were, in order, heart disease, toxicity, gastrointestinal disease, trauma, and hemorrhage not associated with trauma. The top five causes among 79 cats were, in order, trauma, heart disease, intestinal disease, respiratory disease, and urinary tract disease—with no indoor cats having died of trauma.

AVMA News talked with experts about how practitioners can handle these cases, what to look for, and why it's important to give pet owners as much information as possible.

FINDING AN ANSWER

Recently, Dr. Margaret Stalker, a veterinary pathologist at the University of Guelph Ontario Veterinary College, wrote the article “Causes of sudden unexpected death in dogs and cats—it's not the neighbour!” for a 2019 issue of the Animal Health Laboratory's newsletter, debunking the notion that sudden unexpected death in pets often results from intentional poisoning.

“There are few things more traumatic for a pet owner than witnessing the completely unexpected death of a family pet, or finding a pet lying dead in the home, yard or neighborhood,” Dr. Stalker wrote. “Determining the cause of sudden unexpected death is one of the main reasons companion animals are submitted to the Animal Health Laboratory for postmortem examination.”

Dr. Stalker tabulated causes of sudden unexpected death from September 2015 to September 2019 for the Ontario Animal Health Network, a disease surveillance network. Among 150 dogs, the top causes were underlying occult neoplasia, mostly hemangiosarcoma; cardiac disease; respiratory disease, with more than half the cases resulting from aspirated food; trauma; and gastrointestinal accidents.

Among 71 cats, the top causes of sudden unexpected death were underlying cardiac disease, with almost all the cases being cardiomyopathy; trauma; miscellaneous inflammatory conditions; cases with no detectable lesions or cause of death; and miscellaneous infectious conditions.

Dr. Stalker said in an interview that practitioners often direct pet owners to the Animal Health Laboratory to determine the cause of a sudden unexpected death. Pet owners are usually quite distraught when they drop an animal off. Some animals arrive via courier or the referring veterinarian. The laboratory communicates with the referring veterinarian regarding the results of the necropsy.

Often, the pet had some underlying condition. In dogs, hemangiosarcoma kills rapidly and has subtle clinical signs. In cats, cardiomyopathies can be very subtle or clinically silent.

Death by trauma in pets generally results from being hit by cars or attacks by predators such as coyotes. Dr. Stalker did find five cases of rodenticide poisoning in dogs, but she doesn't suspect those were intentional.

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Dr. Margaret Stalker at the University of Guelph Ontario Veterinary College tabulated causes of sudden unexpected death from September 2015 to September 2019 among cats and dogs submitted to the Animal Health Laboratory for postmortem examination.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 6; 10.2460/javma.260.6.585

Dr. Stalker was in clinical practice herself for a couple of years prior to training as a pathologist. She said: “I know you’re faced with these situations that are highly emotional, and I think it's worthwhile knowing that you can reach out to your local diagnostic laboratory. It will probably cost money, and it may or may not be worth that to the owner to find out, but in a majority of cases an answer is found.”

She continued, “In this little case series, between 5 and 8% were undetermined, so we can never promise that, but if there is something there, we’ll do our best to find it.”

DEAD ON ARRIVAL

In the United States, Dr. Bill Wigle, now retired but previously a veterinary pathologist with the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, reviewed records at the laboratory regarding sudden unexpected death in dogs. He wrote the article “Diagnostic Profiles: Sudden Death in Dogs” for the summer 2012 issue of the laboratory's newsletter.

The findings were similar to the findings from the University of Saskatchewan and later from the University of Guelph. Among 112 cases of sudden unexpected death in dogs from Jan. 1, 2007, through May 31, 2012, the cardiovascular system was the most common system involved. The other top causes were, in order, gastrointestinal disease, trauma, toxicity, and respiratory disease.

Pet owners may go to an emergency hospital when a pet dies suddenly outside of regular business hours, said Dr. Erick Mears, a specialist in internal medicine who is the medical director based in Tampa Bay, Florida, for BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospitals.

“Unfortunately, the biggest challenge in our veterinary patients is that a lot of times they won't necessarily show that they’re sick,” Dr. Mears said. In many cases of sudden death, pet owners won't know pets are sick until the animal dies from a tumor or an abnormal heart rhythm or a clot in the lungs.

In other cases, a pet owner might have been managing a pet's underlying condition, and the pet dies unexpectedly from a fatal progression of that condition. In Florida, other notable causes of sudden unexpected death—but not unexplained death—are drowning in pools and even death by alligator attack.

When the death is unexplained, a necropsy is a way to get an idea of what happened, Dr. Mears said, but even the postmortem examination might not be able to find, say, a clot that breaks down. BluePearl may give the option of a necropsy to pet owners if the circumstances allow and then, in Florida, potentially will work with veterinary pathologists at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine.

“Do we always get an answer? We don't,” Dr. Mears said. “But, certainly, they can help rule out a lot of things.” And sometimes they are able to say what did happen.

BluePearl will send the pet owner with the animal to the university, and the university will let BluePearl know about the preliminary findings. Depending on the situation, BluePearl will communicate with the client to help interpret the findings, or the university will work directly with the client.

In cases of sudden death, in general, BluePearl also will communicate with the pet owner's primary veterinarian by email, phone, or both, including letting the veterinarian know about the final results of a necropsy.

Giving closure

In Davis, California, Necropsy Services Group is a three-person operation that exists solely to conduct necropsies on cats and dogs. Dr. Bill Spangler operates NSG with help from son Dr. Taylor Spangler and their colleague, Dr. Mai Mok. All three are veterinary pathologists.

Dr. Bill Spangler previously had founded Consolidated Veterinary Diagnostics, which was later acquired. He offered complete necropsies, but the service was discontinued after the acquisition. With no available resources for professional necropsies in the area—the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine does not routinely perform necropsies on outside cases—Dr. Spangler began offering the service as NSG in 2008.

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Dr. Taylor Spangler operates Necropsy Services Group in Davis, California, with his father, Dr. Bill Spangler, and their colleague, Dr. Mai Mok. NSG exists solely to conduct necropsies on cats and dogs. (Courtesy of NSG)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 6; 10.2460/javma.260.6.585

Dr. Taylor Spangler, whose full-time job is at VDx Veterinary Diagnostics in Davis, said he sometimes talks with pet owners right after their pet has died, particularly when they find NSG through an internet search or a referral from the university, and a bit of grief counseling is involved. He said, “It's not uncommon for us to answer the phone and say, ‘Necropsy Services Group, how can I help you?’ and then not talk again for 15 or 20 minutes while the owner is unloading.”

Sudden unexpected deaths are a large percentage of the cases at NSG, mostly in young animals. Causes of death range from disease to being hit by a car. Among other cases, NSG also gets calls from veterinarians after cats or dogs have died unexpectedly during or right after general anesthesia, and a necropsy might turn up underlying causes or point to an anesthesia-related problem.

The veterinary pathologists at NSG spend a lot of time on the phone explaining results to pet owners. They have honed their ability to talk about a pet's death and give rational explanations to the owners of what might have happened and why, Dr. Spangler said.

It is not uncommon for clients to call with the suspicion that their neighbor has poisoned their pet, although a diagnosis of malicious poisoning is extremely rare at NSG. NSG does get involved in criminal cases of abuse and neglect, along with cases of chronically sick animals in which the veterinarian was never able to get an adequate diagnosis.

“I think veterinarians may underestimate the desire of pet owners to understand why their pet has died,” Dr. Spangler said. “Our clients are generally very appreciative of knowing the specifics of what happened and being able to talk about it with a professional pathologist. These pets have been beloved members of the family, and the necropsy—and the answers that come with it—seems to really help the grieving process. It helps give them closure.”

CAUSES OF SUDDEN DEATH IN HORSES, FROM TOXIC PLANTS TO LIGHTNING STRIKES

Sudden death in horses is relatively rare but does occur, and some of the causes can affect multiple animals in a herd, according to Dr. Sandra D. Taylor.

Dr. Taylor, an associate professor of large animal medicine at Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, spoke on the topic for a virtual session during the 2022 Veterinary Meeting & Expo in early January. She covered sudden death resulting from toxic plants, blister beetles, aortic rupture, and lightning strike.

Ingestion of cardiac glycosides in oleander, foxglove, or summer pheasant's eye can cause sudden death in horses. In a study of 30 horses with oleander toxicosis (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2013;242:540–549), 85% had gastrointestinal signs, 70% had kidney injury, 67% had cardiac arrhythmias, and 10% died suddenly. Overall, half of the horses died or were euthanized.

Ingestion of taxine alkaloids in yew shrubs or trees also can be lethal. Most poisonings in horses result from ingestion of hedge clippings. There is very little chance for intervention before death.

Cantharidin is the toxic principle of blister beetles, which can become trapped in alfalfa hay during baling. In a study of 70 horses with cantharidin toxicosis (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1997;211:1018–1021), most had colic and shock, 10 had polyuria or stranguria, five had diarrhea, two had gastric reflux, two had “thumps” from electrolyte abnormalities, and one had hematuria. Thirty-four horses died within 24 hours of the onset of clinical signs, with five found dead and the rest euthanized.

Aortic rupture is invariably fatal. If horses don't die immediately, they typically develop heart failure. Aortic root rupture can happen with any breed and can be congenital or acquired. Aortic arch rupture is seen in Friesians, with an estimated prevalence of 2%.

Lightning strike is suspect if one or more horses are found dead or with ocular or skin injuries after a thunderstorm. Lightning can cause injury through ground current, a side flash of a bolt, being in contact with something that lightning strikes such as a fence, and direct strike. Sudden death results from cardiac arrest. Lightning strikes also can cause deadly barn fires.

APHIS TO STUDY SARS-COV-2 IN ZOOS, AQUARIUMS

Animal health officials hope to get a better sense this year which zoo and aquarium species are vulnerable to infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service hope to recruit 30-50 zoos and aquariums to provide serum from mammals known to be susceptible to infections, similar species that are untested, species with the ACE2 cell surface receptor that the virus uses to enter host cells, and other species of high importance, such as endangered animals or those that often interact with humans. Agency officials also want to assess biosecurity practices at facilities willing to participate in such evaluations, and APHIS Wildlife Services officials also plan to conduct sampling and tracking of wild animals—such as rodents, skunks, and foxes—that live near zoos and aquariums to assess the risk presented by those animals.

APHIS spokesperson Lyndsay Cole said in a message that the project, the Zoo and Aquarium Serology Study, is intended to identify species previously exposed to SARS-CoV-2 and identify practices that facilities can use to prevent exposure of animals to the virus, whether through physical biosecurity or personnel practices. The project will also help build infrastructure to test samples from a broad range of species and build one-health partnerships, she said.

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U.S. Department of Agriculture officials are studying susceptibility to the SARS-CoV-2 virus of animals at zoos and aquariums, including species of high importance, such as endangered animals or those that often interact with humans.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 6; 10.2460/javma.260.6.585

In a Feb. 2 video presentation, APHIS officials indicated they were seeking voluntary participation from zoo and aquarium facilities, which would be selected for participation this spring.

Agency officials plan to request serum samples and assess biosecurity measures through fall 2022, according to the presenters. Officials also plan to trap nearby wildlife and use camera traps to track movement of wildlife on and off zoo grounds. Officials hope to summarize their findings by early 2023.

Video from the presentation is available on YouTube at jav.ma/zoostudy, and the agency has asked that interested zoo and aquarium officials send a message to jeremy.w.ellis@usda.gov or susan.a.shriner@usda.gov.

Silicone tags used to identify dogs’ pollution exposures

Researchers see potential as a new tool for environmental monitoring

By Greg Cima

Silicone tags attached to a collar could someday help veterinarians gather details on a pet's chemical exposures.

Catherine Wise, PhD, who is a postdoctoral associate at Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment, led a recent study to validate the use of the tags to measure exposure to household chemicals among dogs and their owners.

“One of the major advantages of using these is that it doesn't require a clinical visit,” Dr. Wise said. “So you can measure exposures in a dog, and it's noninvasive. You don't have to take them to get blood drawn, don't have to chase them around and try to collect their urine.”

Researchers from Duke University, North Carolina State University, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collaborated on the study, which involved measuring residues that accumulated in tags worn on the collars of 30 dogs and wristbands worn by 30 of their owners over five days. The results, published Dec. 29, 2021, in Environmental Science and Technology, indicate that higher concentrations of certain pest control chemicals absorbed by the tags and bands—the insect repellent DEET and the insecticide permethrin—significantly correlated with higher concentrations of related metabolites in urine samples from the dogs and dog owners as well as with questionnaire answers provided by those owners about their use of such products.

“These data further demonstrate that silicone passive samplers have the potential to be valuable tools for the cross-species assessment of exposures, showing high correlations between the exposures that people and their pet dogs share in their everyday environment,” the article states. “However, careful considerations need to be accounted for, particularly the potential differences in metabolism and excretion of certain chemicals that may mediate the causal pathway for disease among different species.”

The researchers also found that people who reported using flea and tick preventives containing fipronil had higher fipronil concentrations on their wristbands and their dogs’ tags.

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This dog, Simbaa, is modeling one of the silicone tags used in a recent study to monitor chemical exposures. She belongs to Catherine Wise, PhD, a postdoctoral associate who led the study. (Courtesy of Dr. Wise)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 6; 10.2460/javma.260.6.585

Though silicone tags and wristbands are not yet sold for exposure monitoring, multiple research teams see potential uses in animal and human medicine.

OTHER POTENTIAL USES

Dr. Wise works in the laboratory of Heather M. Stapleton, PhD, who has been leading studies for several years to validate the use of silicone wristbands for collecting data on chemical exposures to support human health research. Those studies have used similar comparisons between the pollutants picked up on the bands and the metabolite concentrations in urine and blood samples.

She said the researchers next plan to use the silicone tags to investigate links between environmental exposures and bladder cancer in dogs.

A research group at Oregon State University, led by professor and environmental chemist Kim Anderson, PhD, first identified the bands’ usefulness in absorbing pollutants and, since then, has also compared those external exposures with metabolite concentrations inside a person's body. A university announcement from 2014 indicates Dr. Anderson's research team had created silicone bracelets with a porous surface and found they were useful for absorbing pollutants.

People already wear similar wristbands, which were popularized by the yellow LiveStrong bracelets of the mid-2000s and are often distributed today for other charitable causes or given to children as party favors.

Though the bands are inexpensive, performing a test for about 150 chemicals costs about $250—almost all of that from the analysis involving mass spectrometers, analytical standards, and labor, Dr. Stapleton said. But she expects those costs would drop over time if the process became routine.

MORE THAN A SNAPSHOT

Dr. Lauren Trepanier, who is not part of the team that studied use of silicone tags, is assistant dean for clinical and translational research and a professor of internal medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, where she leads studies on the intersections of household pollutant exposures, genetics, and cancer risk in dogs. Her team recently found that dogs with lymphoma were more likely to live in counties with high airborne concentrations of volatile organic compounds.

“It would be very interesting to use these tags to look at VOC exposures,” particularly in dog breeds with high risk for lymphoma, she said.

Dr. Trepanier said the tags and wristbands are exciting new tools for environmental monitoring, and they are good for measuring exposures to volatile organic compounds such as pesticides and flame retardants. She said it's still important to measure blood or urine concentrations of certain chemicals, especially those that do not adsorb to silicone or that are primarily inhaled.

Substances such as silica, ash, and heavy metals aren't picked up by silicone bands or tags, she said, and her research team is, for example, investigating links between arsenic and bladder cancer. While silicone tags can pick up what is in the air near a dog's face, that might differ from what makes it into the dog's bloodstream.

Dr. Stapleton expects the bands could be useful in gathering information on an array of exposures to chemical products over time. In comparison with the snapshot provided by urine or blood tests, she thinks the wristbands can provide a better measure of average exposure.

“If you want to know how exposure is linked to a health outcome, you need the best exposure measurement possible because there's a delay often between exposure and when a disease manifests,” Dr. Stapleton said. “So unless you have accurate measures of exposure, you might miss the connection.”

MISSOURI VMA

The Missouri VMA held its 130th annual convention Jan. 27-30 in Columbia. The convention drew more than 500 attendees, including veterinarians, veterinary technicians, practice staff members, and veterinary students. In excess of 60 continuing education lectures were offered to the participants. New officials are as follows: MVMA—Dr. Edward Migneco, St. Louis, president; Dr. Matthew Silvius, Riverside, president-elect; Dr. Kacie Ulhorn, Hermann, vice president; Dr. Shelia Taylor, Springfield, secretary-treasurer; Dr. Marcy Hammerle, St. Charles, board chair; Richard Antweiler, Jefferson City, senior executive director; and Julie Braun, Jefferson City, executive director. Missouri VMA Academy—Drs. Betsy Marziani, St. Louis, president, and Todd Taylor, Parkville, vice president. MVMF—Drs. Philip R. Brown, Springfield, board chair; Scott Fray, Boonville, board vice chair; and George Buckaloo, Lake Tapawingo, secretary-treasurer

Visit avma.org/news/community to read the full report, including awards.

FDA SEEKS DETAILS ON ANTIMICROBIAL USE, RESISTANCE IN COMPANION ANIMALS

Food and Drug Administration officials want help collecting data on how antimicrobial administration to companion animals affects development of drug resistance.

A Feb. 15 announcement from the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine indicates the FDA needs to better understand how drug use in animals such as dogs, cats, and horses might impact antimicrobial resistance in pathogens of animals and people.

Details on the request for comments are available at regulations.gov under docket number FDA-2021-N-1305. Comments are due June 16.

A Federal Register notice published Feb. 16 says FDA CVM officials want descriptions on how practices of antimicrobial use in companion animals may affect resistance development among bacterial pathogens of companion animals and of humans. Officials want to learn about concerns regarding resistance development related to particular antimicrobials or antimicrobial drug classes administered to companion animals, as well as how the importance of a drug to human medicine should be considered in decisions about whether to administer the drug to companion animals.

The notice also asks how the CVM can encourage greater antimicrobial stewardship that could help preserve drug effectiveness, how the center can encourage development of new antimicrobials, what study designs present or reduce challenges for developing needed antimicrobial drugs, and whether any specific infectious diseases are—from a stewardship perspective—best treated with topical antimicrobial formulations. The notice asks what information on drug labels helps veterinarians follow the principles of antimicrobial stewardship, what additional information could help, and whether veterinarians need drug stewardship information that they can provide to clients.

The CVM announcement indicates most of the FDA's past animal-related antimicrobial stewardship efforts have focused on drug administration to food-producing animals. But the announcement also notes that agency officials awarded two grants in 2020 for five-year projects to develop and test methods of collecting data on antimicrobial administration to dogs and cats and that data from the projects may aid investigations into associations between antimicrobial administration and resistance.

This is all part of the FDA CVM's five-year action plan, “Supporting antimicrobial stewardship in veterinary settings: Goals for fiscal years 2019-2023.” The Federal Register notice is a step toward achieving one of the plan's objectives, which is to engage with stakeholders to develop and implement a strategy for promoting antimicrobial stewardship in companion animals. The goal is “to help preserve the effectiveness of medically important antimicrobials for humans and companion animals.”

At the AVMA House of Delegates’ regular winter session, held Jan. 7-8 in Chicago, delegates approved a new policy supporting the collection of antimicrobial use data to help combat drug resistance.

The AVMA Committee on Antimicrobials developed the new policy, “Support for the Collection of Antimicrobial Use Data for Antimicrobial Stewardship,” which states that the AVMA recognizes the need to collect antimicrobial use data and is supportive of discussions to investigate how this should be accomplished, what should be considered during data analysis, and how the data might be used to inform and advance veterinary clinical decision making.

The AVMA plans to provide comments to the FDA.

The AVMA has resources on antimicrobials, including veterinarians’ role in ensuring continued antimicrobial effectiveness and practical resources for use in daily practice, at avma.org/Antimicrobials.

Organizations warn against hemp in pet food, livestock feed

AAFCO-led letter cites need for safety studies

By Greg Cima

Veterinary, feed industry, and animal and public safety leaders are warning against feeding animals hemp products until studies show it's safe.

In a February letter to agriculture leaders and state policymakers, the Association of American Feed Control Officials and 16 co-signing organizations—including the AVMA—expressed concerns about the risks to animals and trade of feeding animals unproven products containing hemp. Those concerns relate to feeding pets, horses, and livestock hemp and hemp products such as hemp seed and hemp seed oil.

“It is our position that sufficient scientific research to support the safety and utility of hemp in animal feed must be completed prior to any federal or state approval,” the letter states.

A copy of the letter is available in PDF format at aafco.org/home/hempinanimalfeed. The Academy of Veterinary Consultants, American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition, American Association of Bovine Practitioners, and Nutrition Specialty of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine are also among the signing organizations.

The letter expresses three primary concerns: It's unclear whether farm animals fed hemp-based diets perform as well as animals fed traditional diets, especially as research has yet to fully describe the effects of long-term exposure to cannabinoids including low concentrations of the psychoactive substance tetrahydrocannabinol. It's also unclear how much cannabinoids transfer into meat, milk, and eggs of food-producing animals. And any animal feed containing hemp or human food produced by animals fed hemp is subject to federal regulations if it crosses state lines, so those products could be considered adulterated.

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized growing hemp in the U.S. by producers who are licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture or state or tribal agencies, but that action did not authorize feeding it to animals. The Food and Drug Administration and AAFCO members decide which proposed ingredients are safe and nutritious for animals.

Yet the AAFCO letter describes an accelerating use of hemp byproducts in animal food since 2018.

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Hemp seed and hemp oil are among hemp products that have not received federal approval for use in animal food or feed.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 6; 10.2460/javma.260.6.585

Information from state agencies indicates some states already allow hemp products in certain animal foods, and others have started the process of allowing uses in anticipation of federal approval.

Information from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, for example, states that pet food and treats can be made from hemp extract. Guidance from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development states that, while hemp cannot be sold or distributed in commercial feed products, a person can supplement their own pet's food with hemp or hemp-derived products.

In April 2021, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a bill that allows inclusion of hemp and hemp derivatives in food for pets, horses, and livestock once the state receives confirmation those ingredients have FDA approval.

The South Carolina Department of Agriculture, however, has had to warn animal feed manufacturers that hemp and cannabidiol remain unapproved for use in animal feed, according to a January 2020 announcement.

“Over the past year, SCDA has been educating store owners that commercial feed products containing hemp and CBD are illegal and should not be sold,” the announcement states.

In September 2021, AAFCO officials called for more research into the safety and nutritional benefits of feeding animals hemp and its byproducts. The organization encouraged the hemp and animal food industries to gather data useful toward defining ingredients and developing standards.

The Hemp Feed Coalition is one of the organizations working to gain federal approval of hemp products and, following AAFCO's fall 2021 announcement, coalition representatives announced they were working with AAFCO and the FDA as well as supporting scientific studies. Coalition information indicates some farmers, livestock producers, horse owners, and pet owners are already feeding hemp to their animals.

“Our efforts over the past years have included working directly with federal and state regulators to create a path forward for gaining approval of hemp ingredients for inclusion in animal feeds for all species,” the coalition's announcement states.

The seventeen organizations that sent February's letter encourage state leaders and hemp proponents to work through the federal regulatory pathways used for all other animal feed ingredients.

“We urge state leaders to support research through universities or private labs so that the safety and utility of hemp can be fully understood before it is allowed for commercial purposes,” the letter states. “We encourage proponents to continue to assemble data, and to work on submitting applications through the established animal feed ingredient review process.”

GRANTS, STUDENT AWARDS HANDED OUT BY AVMF, PARTNERS

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation has announced the recipients of two of its programs that benefit veterinary researchers and veterinary students.

The AVMF and the Veterinary Pharmacology Research Foundation selected two veterinary researchers as recipients of the organizations’ 2021-22 pharmacology research grants. This funding supports research projects designed to improve the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases in animals.

Dr. Megan Grobman is an assistant professor of small animal internal medicine at Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. Her research will focus on the impact of single-dose trazodone administration on endogenous adrenocorticotropic hormone and serum cortisol concentrations in healthy dogs.

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Dr. Megan Grobman

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 6; 10.2460/javma.260.6.585

Dr. Sarah A. Hamer is an associate professor of epidemiology at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. Her research project will focus on assessing the treatment efficacy of benznidazole for curing Trypanosoma cruzi infection and improving clinical outcomes in client-owned dogs naturally infected with Chagas disease.

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Dr. Sarah A. Hamer

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 260, 6; 10.2460/javma.260.6.585

Merck Animal Health, in partnership with the AVMF, announced the recipients of the 2021 Merck Animal Health Veterinary Student Innovation Award. This award is designed to recognize graduating students at each veterinary school accredited through the AVMA Council on Education in the U.S. and Canada. Awards are given to students in good academic standing who have demonstrated innovation, entrepreneurship, and creative forward thinking in the development of a project or product that inspires others within the veterinary profession.

The winners are as follows:

  • Dr. Conor Blanchet, Colorado State University.

  • Dr. Rachael Strauss, Cornell University.

  • Dr. Megan Preston, Lincoln Memorial University.

  • Dr. Kaity Denney, Michigan State University.

  • Dr. Iyaesha Simmons, Midwestern University.

  • Dr. Irina Perdew, North Carolina State University.

  • Dr. Elizabeth Crowling, Texas A&M University.

  • Dr. Edward Unay, Tufts University.

  • Dr. Kayla Sailer, University of California-Davis.

  • Dr. Sydney Corso, University of Florida.

  • Dr. Shenise Howard, University of Georgia.

  • Dr. Adam Quinlan, University of Guelph.

  • Dr. Zachary Talbert, University of Illinois.

  • Dr. Erendira Amavizca, University of Minnesota.

  • Dr. Sara M. Van Ausdal, University of Missouri.

  • Dr. Florence Dupuis-Dowd, University of Montreal.

  • Dr. Marco Duguay, University of Prince Edward Island.

  • Dr. Renee Ewald, University of Saskatchewan.

  • Dr. Jessie Erin Richards, University of Tennessee.

  • Dr. Waining Wang Tsang, Western University of Health Sciences.

  • Dr. Megan Grobman

  • Dr. Sarah A. Hamer

In Memory

AVMA member | AVMA honor roll member | Nonmember

TIMOTHY W. BRUNS

Dr. Bruns (Wisconsin ’93), 60, Monticello, Wisconsin, died Nov. 27, 2021. Following graduation, he joined New Glarus Veterinary Service in New Glarus, Wisconsin, where he focused on large animal and dairy production medicine. In 2000, Dr. Bruns established Green Pastures Veterinary Service in Monticello, initially practicing large animal medicine and subsequently switching to small animal medicine. He later also owned Burr Oak Farm outside of Monticello. Active in his community, Dr. Bruns served as president of the Monticello School District Board of Education. His wife, Dee Dee; a daughter and four stepchildren; six grandchildren; and a sister and two brothers survive him.

CHARLES D. CLINKENBEARD

Dr. Clinkenbeard (Kansas State ’64), 84, Bartlesville, Oklahoma, died Aug. 18, 2021. He owned Clinkenbeard Veterinary Clinic, a mixed animal practice in Bartlesville, for 40 years. Dr. Clinkenbeard is survived by his wife, Carol; two daughters and a son; nine grandchildren; and a brother. Memorials may be made to the Boys and Girls Club of Bartlesville, 401 S. Seminole Ave., Bartlesville, OK 74003.

WAYNE A. CROWELL

Dr. Crowell (Colorado State ’64), 81, Athens, Georgia, died Dec. 21, 2021. Following graduation, he practiced in Glasgow, Kentucky, and Colorado Springs, Colorado. From 1966-68, Dr. Crowell served in the Army. He subsequently worked as a field research veterinarian in industry in Indiana. After earning his doctorate in veterinary pathology from the University of Georgia, Dr. Crowell embarked upon a career in academia, teaching and conducting research at Louisiana State University and the University of Georgia. During that time, he received several teaching awards, including the Student AVMA Basic Sciences Teaching Excellence Award and the Zoetis Distinguished Veterinary Teacher Award, and was named a Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Georgia. Dr. Crowell was a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists.

His wife, Marsha; a daughter and a son; and five grandchildren survive him. Memorials may be made to the CSU Class of 1964 Scholarship, College of Veterinary Medicine, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, or the Mary Linn Crowell Scholarship, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.

TONY M. FORSHEY

Dr. Forshey (Ohio State ’77), 69, Hebron, Ohio, died Nov. 26, 2021. He was Ohio state veterinarian and chief of animal health at the Ohio Department of Agriculture since 2006. Following graduation, Dr. Forshey practiced primarily swine medicine for 27 years in northwest Ohio, beginning in Wauseon and later in Archbold. From 1985-2005, he was also an adjunct associate professor at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Active in organized veterinary medicine, Dr. Forshey served on the board of directors of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, was a past president of the National Institute for Animal Agriculture and the North Central United States Animal Health Association, served on the AVMA Animal Agriculture Liaison Committee and on the Advisory Panel to the AVMA House of Delegates, was a past vice chair of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, and was a member of the Ohio VMA and the National Assembly of State Animal Health Officials.

He received several honors, including the OVMA Meritorious Award in 1997, Ohio Pork Producers Council's Service Award for Outstanding Service to the Ohio Swine Industry in 1998, OVMA Veterinarian of the Year Award in 2010, and an OSU College of Veterinary Medicine's Distinguished Alumnus Award and Ohio Cattlemen's Association Beef Industry Service Award in 2013. In 2020, Dr. Forshey was inducted into the Ohio Agricultural Council Hall of Fame. In, 2021 he received an Ohio Farm Bureau Distinguished Service Award and an NIAA Meritorious Service Award.

Dr. Forshey was a past president of the Wauseon Rotary Club and was a member of the Masonic Lodge. He is survived by his wife, Jill; two sons and two daughters; six grandchildren; and 12 siblings.

MAX W. JOHN

Dr. John (Missouri ’57), 93, Vienna, Missouri, died Nov. 25, 2021. He practiced mixed animal medicine in Vienna for 40 years. Dr. John also helped establish the South Central Livestock Market in Vienna. Following retirement from his practice, he worked at the South Central Livestock Market and the MFA Feeder Pig Sale in Westphalia, Missouri.

Dr. John was a lifetime member of the Missouri VMA. Active in his community, he served on the Maries County R-1 School Board and volunteered with the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry in Vienna. Dr. John was an Army veteran of the Korean War. He is survived by three daughters, a son, nine grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, and his stepgrandchildren and their families. Memorials may be made to Vienna United Methodist Church, 1102 Highway 63N, Vienna, MO 65582, or Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry, 411 Coffey St., Vienna, MO 65582.

LEE P. JOHNSON

Dr. Johnson (Colorado State ’55), 94, Britton, South Dakota, died Jan. 5, 2022. Following graduation, he worked for a year in Groton, South Dakota. Dr. Johnson then moved to Britton, where he bought Britton Veterinary Clinic and practiced large animal medicine for almost 35 years. A member of the South Dakota VMA, he was named South Dakota Veterinarian of the Year in 1988.

Active in his community, Dr. Johnson helped establish the Britton Nursing Home and served on the Britton City Council. He was a veteran of the Army. Dr. Johnson's two sons, two daughters, and eight grandchildren survive him. Memorials may be made to the Britton Foundation, P.O. Box 415, Britton, SD 57430.

JOHN M. LESSLIE JR.

Dr. Lesslie (Georgia ’83), 67, Rock Hill, South Carolina, died Dec. 28, 2021. He owned Fort Mill Animal Hospital, a small animal practice in Fort Mill, South Carolina, until 2019. A member of the Fort Mill Rotary Club, Dr. Lesslie was a Paul Harris Fellow. An avid marathoner, he took part in the New York City Marathon and the Anchorage Mayor's Marathon in Alaska. Dr. Lesslie's sister and brother survive him. Memorials may be made to Neely's Creek Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, 974 Neely's Creek Road, Rock Hill, SC 29730, or the Humane Society of York County, 8177 Regent Parkway, Fort Mill, SC 29715.

ROBERT M. LOFTON

Dr. Lofton (Auburn ’72),75, Opelika, Alabama, died Jan. 1, 2022. Following graduation, he worked for a year in Roanoke, Virginia. Dr. Lofton then established University Animal Clinic in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where he practiced small animal medicine for 40 years. After retiring from practice, he served on the veterinary faculty of Auburn University for five years.

Dr. Lofton was a past president of the Louisiana Board of Veterinary Medicine and the Louisiana and Calcasieu VMAs. He served on the board of directors of the American Animal Hospital Association and was a member of a task force that rewrote the AAHA standards for hospital accreditation. In 1999, Dr. Lofton was named Louisiana Veterinarian of the Year.

He served on the Opelika City Council and was active with the Kiwanis and Boy Scouts of America. Dr. Lofton's wife, Lela; a son; and two brothers survive him. Memorials may be made to the Alabama Chapter of the ALS Association, 300 Cahaba Park Circle, Suite 209, Birmingham, AL 35242, or to Circles Opelika, a poverty reduction program, and sent to 2133 Executive Park Drive, Opelika, AL 36801.

JEFFREY E. RICHARDS

Dr. Richards (Michigan State ’72), 75, St. Joseph, Michigan, died Dec. 31, 2021. He began his career at Zeeb Animal Hospital in Lansing, Michigan. Dr. Richards subsequently moved to St. Joseph to work at the Freier Animal Hospital. In 1977, he established St. Joseph Veterinary Hospital.

Active in his community, Dr. Richards served on the St. Joseph City Commission for more than 37 years and was mayor of St. Joseph from 1993-95. He represented St. Joseph on the Michigan Municipal League from 1994-97 and served on the MML board of trustees. Dr. Richards is survived by his wife, Nancy; two stepsons, a stepdaughter, and an adopted son; and three grandchildren. Memorials may be made to the Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan, 5400 Niles Road, St. Joseph, MI 49085; Therapeutic Equestrian Center, 1207 E. Galien Buchanan Road, Buchanan, MI 49107; or First Congregational Church, 2001 Niles Ave., St. Joseph, MI 49085.

GREGORY R. SCHMIDT

Dr. Schmidt (California-Davis ’72), 74, Keswick, Virginia, died Nov. 2, 2021. Following graduation and after completing an internship in large animal surgery at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, he began working at Georgetown Equine Hospital in Charlottesville, Virginia. Dr. Schmidt subsequently served briefly as an instructor at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. In 1978, he established Keswick Equine Clinic. In 1984, he served as an equine veterinarian at the Los Angeles Olympics. Dr. Schmidt retired in 2014.

Dr. Schmidt was a member of the Keswick Hunt Club and served on its board of directors. He was active with the foundations to preserve the estates of presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, and he established a scholarship for veterinary students at the University of California-Davis. Dr. Schmidt's brother and sister survive him. Memorials may be made to the Montanova Stables Foundation, P.O. Box 704, Keswick, VA 22947, montanovastables.org.

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