Photo gallery: Top 10 veterinary issues in 2010

Photo gallery: Top 10 veterinary issues in 2010

Nov 30, 2010
By staff
The year in review

From battling the largest man-made disaster in U.S. history to declining veterinary visits, veterinarians have had quite a year. Here's a look at the top 10 issues that shaped the veterinary profession over the last 12 months.

Documenting the decline

Veterinary visits are dropping at the same time the human-animal bond is thought to be at an all-time high. The trend is so alarming that veterinary leaders from Banfield, the American Veterinary Medical Association and Hill’s Pet Nutrition are organizing a profession-wide campaign to reverse dwindling client numbers to veterinary practices. In addition, a new study aimed at better understanding the decline in client numbers is slated for an early 2011 release. The National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues (NCVEI), Brakke Consulting and Bayer Animal Health are collaborating on this study.

More on this issue:

Veterinary coalition to target drop in client visits

Study to investigate reasons behind drop in veterinary client visits

NCVEI, Brakke, Bayer to study declining numbers of veterinary visits

Effort to increase more feline veterinary visits

AAFP, AAHA develop new guidelines for feline healthcare

Report calls on veterinarians to reassess business practices

The Gulf oil spill

Nearly 7,000 animals died in the Gulf of Mexico following the worst man-made disaster in U.S. history. And veterinarians aided injured wildlife in a massive, multi-state cleanup from April to July. BP’s damaged oil well spewed some 185,000 gallons of crude oil up to 68,000 square miles. The federal government reports that 9,438 birds, sea turtles and other wildlife were collected during recovery efforts; 6,814 of them died and 4,822 were visibly oiled.

More on this issue:

Experts take a deeper look at Gulf oil spill effects

Complete coverage of the Deep Water Horizon/BP oil spill

Breed wars

Tougher regulations governing domestic dog breeders could be contributing to a spike in overseas importation of high-demand breeds. The Government Accountability Office recently reported that there is not enough oversight on animal imports, opening the borders to a variety of diseases. Some veterinarians fear long-term health impacts of poor breeding practices from operations outside, and inside, the United States. Unscrupulous dog-breeding practices have been a subject of ongoing legislative activity and ballot initiatives in the United States. In fact, the welfare debate erupted again during the elections with the passage of Missouri’s Proposition B calling for tougher rules on commercial breeders.

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Breed wars

Heartworm resistance

In the Gulf region, reports surfaced of the possible resistance to heartworm preventives. While the canine population is small, veterinarians, researchers and manufacturers are concerned about this population of dogs testing positive for heartworm disease and the possible long-term implications. Most recently, the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) and American Heartworm Society (AHS) issued a joint statement saying the problem could be attributed to a combination of poor owner compliance and changing environmental/vector factors.

More on this issue:

Heartworm resistance: CAPC, AHS issue new guidance for veterinarians

CAPC, AHS collaborate on position regarding heartworm resistance

Veterinary groups meet to address heartworm resistance concerns

CAPC statement addresses reports of resistance to heartworm preventives in south-central region

What's new in heartworm disease?

Merial, FDA work out system to ease shortage of heartworm treatment

Heartworm: An emerging disease

Female vets: the new majority

For the first time in history, women overtook men as the majority in the American Veterinary Medical Association. The trend will continue well into the future too because veterinary colleges are admitting 70 to 80 percent female students.

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Women become AVMA majority

Antibiotic debate

Antimicrobial usage, especially in food animals, came to a head in 2010. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruled that antibiotic use should be limited to medically necessary cases, while the American Veterinary Medical Association declared that it would seek greater involvement in discussions about antibiotic uses, regardless of distribution channels.

More on this issue:

FDA seeks limited antibiotic phase out

AVMA 2010: Veterinarians resolved to enter the antibiotic debate

U.S. Rep. Waxman calls for 'comprehensive strategy' to safeguard antibiotics for veterinarians, physicians

Veterinarians caution Congress over FDA proposed antibiotic ban

Data doesn't warrant total antibiotic 'phase out' in cattle, veterinary groups say

AVMA continues arguments for antibiotics before Congress

Hard times in the heartland

Rural areas, especially those that depend on food-animal veterinarians, are crying out for greater access to veterinary care. Existing rural DVMs are finding it more difficult to recruit new veterinarians to those areas. Several states and the federal government now are offering incentives to help fill the void. In fact, recently, the USDA shelled out $5.9 million to help defray student loan costs for new veterinarians willing to practice in underserved areas.

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Hard times in the heartland

Federal lawmakers join fight to end rural veterinary shortage

AVMA, AVMF announce loan repayment program for food animal veterinarians

AAVMC urges Senate to pass loan repayment bill

USDA outlines application process for federal loan repayment program

Supply and demand: Loan repayment program targets areas in greatest need

AVMA, AVMF announce new food-animal veterinarian incentive program

Recession pains

Veterinary education took major losses from state cuts in 2010. Leading the list of casualties included the University of California, University of Pennsylvania and Louisiana State University.

More on this issue:

AAVMC head speaks out on current college budget crises

LSU's veterinary school takes new round of budget cuts

LSU budget crisis could greatly impact veterinary school

Veterinary schools turn to tuition hikes to close budget gaps

School cuts deepen

Cornell trustees announce 4.5 percent tuition increase for veterinary students


Safeguarding racehorses

The veterinary profession is sprinting to find ways to improve the safety of horse racing. Just recently, the American Association of Equine Practitioners issued a new set of clinical guidelines for treating racehorses and officials with the United States Department of Agriculture are looking to revise its system for inspecting horse shows to improve welfare standards.

More on this issue:

USDA audit blasts horse show inspections

RCI rules on reducing phenylbutazone thresholds in racehorses

AAEP sets new clinical guidelines for racehorse care

Sport horse nutrition: Winning is in the details

New York steps up illegal equine drug-use testing at racetracks

Gender, age bigger factor in race fatalities than track surface

New injury database reveals trends in Thoroughbred fatalities

Vet2011: The year of the veterinarian

Veterinary medicine celebrates its 250th year in 2011, and a kind of global “party” is in the works. Numerous organizations from around the world are honoring veterinarians through special events. Officials are also asking Congress to formally recognize veterinary medicine’s many contributions to society. For more info go to

More on this issue:

Veterinarians in U.S. Congress want to honor 2011 as World Veterinary Year

AVMA wants Congress to designate 2011 as the year of the veterinarian