U.S. consumers are expected to spend an average $143.56 on Valentine’s Day as 55 percent of the population celebrates this year, an increase from last year’s $136.57, according to the annual survey released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. Total spending is expected to reach $19.6 billion, up from $18.2 billion last year.
And a chunk of that spending will be directed at pets. Consumers plan to spend an average of $5.50 on their pets, for a total of $751 million.
At the same time, the survey found consumers plan to spend an average $88.98 on their significant other/spouse ($12.1 billion), $25.29 on other family members such as children or parents ($3.5 billion), $7.26 on children’s classmates/teachers ($991 million), $7.19 on friends ($982 million) and $4.79 on co-workers ($654 million). Those 25-34 will be the biggest spenders at an average of $202.76.
The total spending numbers are the second-highest in the survey’s 15-year history, topped only by the record $146.84 and $19.7 billion seen in 2016.
Much the same as last year, consumers plan to shop at department stores (35 percent), discount stores (32 percent), online (29 percent), specialty stores (19 percent), florists (17 percent), and local small businesses (14 percent).
The survey, which asked 7,277 consumers about their Valentine’s Day plans, was conducted Jan. 3-10 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points.
The Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine’s new Center of Excellence for Translational and Comparative Oncology Research (CETCOR) focuses on improving the diagnosis, management, and treatment of both human and animal cancers.
“The overriding objective of CETCOR is to expedite the pre-clinical and clinical development, production and/or licensure of novel or improved medical interventions—drugs, immunotherapeutics and medical devices—for the treatment, diagnosis and monitoring of both human and animal cancers,” said Raelene Wouda, BVSc, DACVIM (Oncology), MANZCVS (SAIM), assistant professor of oncology in the college’s clinical sciences department.
One unique aspect of CETCOR is that it does not focus on a single type of cancer or the development of a single novel drug or technology, said Dr. Wouda.
“Our group aims to facilitate the advancement of all cancer-associated research taking place on campus and within the wider K-State community, whether that be at the basic physiologic and pharmacologic level or in the later stages of the therapeutic drug development pathway,” Wouda said.
CETCOR’s primary mission is to advance discoveries by university faculty and community toward clinical utility in a timely and cost-effective manner by providing study-design guidance, specifically through the application of appropriate models, according to KSU.
The center’s secondary objective is to provide opportunities for education and networking as they pertain to translational and comparative oncologic research within the region, Wouda added.
The center will offer its inaugural continuing education symposium on March 17.
For more information, visit vet.k-state.edu/research/CETCOR/.
Elanco Animal Health, a division of Eli Lilly and Co., announced that Credelio has been approved by the FDA. Credelio is a new monthly oral tick and flea option for dogs that contains the patented active ingredient lotilaner, which targets the nervous system receptors of ticks and fleas, not dogs, according to the company.
The preventive protects against lone star, American dog, black-legged, and brown dog ticks, as well as fleas.
“When choosing pet medications, veterinarians and pet owners are most concerned with safety for the pet as well as efficacy of the product. Lotilaner, the active ingredient in Credelio, was selected from hundreds of candidate molecules with this in mind,” said Tony Rumschlag, DVM, director, regional consulting for Elanco. “This new tasty chewable is fast-acting and effective against ticks and fleas, while being easy on dogs and puppies.”
In a field study, 100 percent of Credelio tablets were administered successfully and dogs accepted 94 percent of them when offered by hand, in an empty bowl, or with food, according to the company.
The product’s active ingredient—lotilaner—circulates in the dog’s blood stream, targeting the receptors of ticks and fleas when they bite the dog. In clinical studies, it killed 100 percent of fleas within 12 hours for the entire month. It starts to kill ticks and fleas in just four hours; when given with food, it reaches peak blood levels within two hours of dosing, the manufacturer stated.
Credelio will be available in four tablet strengths for dogs and is approved for puppies and dogs from 8 weeks of age and older and 4.4 pounds and greater.
Visit credelio.com for more information.
Aratana Therapeutics has been granted conditional approval for its canine osteosarcoma vaccine, live Listeria vector (AT-014) by the USDA's Center for Veterinary Biologics, according to a release from the company. It has been approved for treatment of dogs diagnosed with osteosarcoma that are 1 year of age or older.
"Osteosarcoma is the most common primary bone tumor in dogs and, since there haven't been advances to raise the standard of care in nearly 20 years, dogs often face a poor prognosis," says Ernst Heinen, DVM, PhD, chief development officer for Aratana, in the release. "We are hopeful that our canine osteosarcoma vaccine will be a new tool for veterinary oncologists to prolong survival in dogs with osteosarcoma."
The canine osteosarcoma vaccine is a novel immunotherapeutic developed using a Listeria-based antigen delivery system licensed from Advaxis. It’s a lyophilized formulation of a modified live, attenuated strain of Listeria that activates cytotoxic T-cells. Because the therapeutic expresses a tumor-associated antigen, it directs the T-cells to fight cancer cells, even after the bacteria is cleared, which means the therapeutic builds on the dog's immune system and its ability to attack bacterial infections, redirecting it to fight the cancer cells, the release states.
In a clinical study of 18 client-owned dogs with osteosarcoma, the data suggest that the vaccine may delay or prevent metastatic disease and may prolong overall survival in these patients. The single-arm study evaluated dogs that had primary tumor removal and four doses of carboplatin chemotherapy, followed by the therapeutic vaccine every three weeks for three doses, according the release. The median survival time was 956 days compared with 423 days for a historical control group (p<0.05).
The most common adverse events included lethargy, diarrhea and fever, according to a separate field safety study that was submitted to the USDA for the conditional licensing process.
To progress from conditional licensure to full licensure as required by the USDA, Aratana plans to conduct an extended field study in a clinical setting, anticipating an early 2018 start to that study, the release notes. Initially, the therapeutic will be available for purchase at about two dozen veterinary oncology practice groups across the United States that participate in the study.
Last year brought some heavy news for pets—and their health. In a press release Nationwide reports that its members filed 1.4 million pet insurance claims for conditions and diseases related to obesity—racking up more than $62 million in veterinary expenses. And obesity-related claims swelled 24 percent over the last four years.
Nationwide recently sorted through its database of more than 630,000 insured pets to determine the top 10 most common dog and cat obesity-related conditions. Here are the weighty results:
In 2016, Nationwide reports that it received more than 51,000 pet insurance claims for osteoarthritis in portly pooches—the most common disease aggravated by excessive weight—and the average treatment fee was $310 per pet. Cystitis, the most common obesity-related condition in less-than-svelte kitties, garnered more than 5,000 pet insurance claims, with an average treatment cost of $443 per pet.
Every veterinarian experiences occasional complications, sad outcomes, or patient deaths, but some have developed coping skills and strategies that help them manage the emotional impact and learn and grow from these events, according to a study authored by Sara White, DVM, MSc. The study will appear in the February 2018 issue of the journal Anthrozoös.
The study questioned 32 shelter and spay-neuter veterinarians about their experiences, thoughts, and reactions as they coped with life-threatening complications or death related to spay-neuter. Qualitative thematic analysis was used to identify themes and patterns in the responses of veterinarians who were successful in coping with these adverse events.
In the aftermath of a patient death or serious complication, veterinarians who were surveyed described feelings of guilt, sadness, anxiety, and self-doubt, and felt deep empathy for their clients. Some said they never recovered from the trauma of these events, while others were able to transform the incidents into learning experiences and opportunities for growth in their technical and emotional skills. The veterinarians who coped most effectively were those who were able to talk openly with colleagues about the events, and who were able to learn and improve protocols. Further, successful veterinarians had learned to place the loss into perspective, and had developed expertise in how to handle and support themselves through the event’s aftermath.
“Successfully coping with adverse events is important not just for the mental health and peace of mind of individual vets, but for their future patients as well,” said Dr. White. “The more comfortable vets can be thinking about dealing with things that don’t go as planned, the better they will be at evaluating, refining, and updating the way they care for patients.”
Veterinarian wellness and mental health have received an increasing amount of attention recently within the profession, and recent studies have indicated a high risk of suicide among veterinarians.
“This study gives veterinarians a language to think and talk about their responses to complications and patient deaths, as well as steps that they can take when they’re trying to recover from these events,” said Jen Brandt, LISW-S, Ph.D., AVMA director of wellbeing and diversity initiatives.
“Helping veterinarians understand that they are not alone in their feelings and reactions to unanticipated events may help decrease the negative impact of these reactions and allow veterinarians to respond and cope more effectively.”
Just like people, dogs need lifelong learning to keep their brains sharp, researchers at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna say.
And educational touchscreen games appear to be well-suited to the task, they found.
The researchers say regular brain training can slow down mental deterioration in aging dogs, according to a press release. But few families give older dogs the same types of training they'd give their younger counterparts.
“Yet this restricts the opportunities to create positive mental experiences for the animals, which remain capable of learning even in old age,” said first author Lisa Wallis. “As is the case with people, dopamine production in dogs also falls in old age, leading to a decline in memory and motivational drive. But this natural mental deterioration can be countered with the specific training of cognitive skills.”
Cognitive biologists found that simple mental tasks on the computer, combined with a reward system, can replace physically demanding training and still keep the animals mentally fit.
They used tasks that can be solved through touchscreen interaction — and the dogs quickly became "avid gamers."
“The positive feeling created by solving a mental challenge is comparable to the feeling that older people have when they learn something new, doing something they enjoy. Regular brain training shakes not only us, but also dogs out of their apathy in old age, increasing motivation and engagement and thus maximising learning opportunities”, said senior author Ludwig Huber.
The aim now is to get the interactive “dog sudoku” ready for home use.
The research team hopes the study will not only motivate technicians and software developers, but also interested dog owners, to consider future cooperation, according to the press release.
“Our scientific approach could result in an exciting citizen science project to increase the understanding of the importance of lifelong learning in animals,” Wallis said.
A blind bisexual goose, who spent years in a love triangle with two swans raising 68 cygnets, has died aged 40.
Thomas, from Waikanae, in New Zealand, fell in love with a black swan named Henry and went on to spend the next 24 years with him.
But things got messy when a young female swan called Henrietta swooped in and stole Henry’s heart.
Thomas quickly became the third wheel but instead of moving on, he decided to help the new couple raise their 68 cygnets over the next six years.
His complicated relationship made him a local celebrity with many birdwatchers spending hours watching his love life unfold.
But his happiness came to an end when Henry died in 2009 and Henrietta flew off with another swan, leaving Thomas all alone.
He eventually went on to father his own babies, but they were then stolen by another goose called George.
Thomas was taken to the Wellington Bird Rehabilitation Trust in 2013 as his health deteriorated
The trust said: ‘As well as making other blind bird friends to spend his days with Thomas helped foster a couple of broods of cygnets along the way.
‘[That was] for nostalgic reasons and boy, did he do a good job.
‘He lived for corn on the cob and if it wasn’t there when we put him back into his house at night, he was not happy.’
Thomas will be buried next to Henry at the place they called home following a public ceremony later this month.
The organizations, which looks after up to 400 birds a year, said Thomas proved there was ‘life after sight’ for elderly fowl.
Rest in Peace Thomas.