AVMA House of Delegates Backs New Dentistry, Declawing Policies

An AVMA governance panel updates veterinary guidelines and chooses new leaders.


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The House of Delegates convenes in Denver at the annual AVMA convention.

Ken Niedziela

The American Veterinary Medical Association’s House of Delegates today approved revised policies on veterinary dentistry and cat declawing and chose the organization’s 2015-16 president.

Meeting in Denver at the annual AVMA convention, the delegates followed the lead of the American Animal Hospital Association in advocating the use of anesthesia when dental procedures beyond an oral examination are performed.

AAHA in June 2013 passed a rule requiring member hospitals to anesthetize and intubate all dental patients under the group’s updated Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats.

Kate Knudson, DVM, the past president of AAHA and an alternate delegate, urged the House to pass Resolution 6.

“The only way you can provide dental diagnostics and come up with a therapeutic plan is to do dental radiography,” Dr. Knudson said. “We have many, many, many studies … demonstrating how something that looks normal when you’re just looking at it with your eyes is abnormal once you take radiographs.

“The only way you can look your client in the eye and give them the confidence that you indeed are giving the best therapeutic and diagnostic plan is to take full-mouth X-rays,” she added. “As of this time the only way we can do that is with our patients asleep.”

Nancy Scanlan, DVM, who represents the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association in the House of Delegates, requested that the resolution be set aside pending a University of Pennsylvania study of hand scaling with and without anesthesia.

“Until the results of that study are available, I think it’s premature to recommend that hand scaling be done with anesthetic,” Dr. Scanlan said.

She also advised that veterinarians be given “leeway in being able to use our own judgment as to what to do when.”

The resolution, which passed with 73.7 percent of the vote, recommends that veterinarians perform oral examinations on all animals “at least yearly and discuss preventative measures to keep a patient’s mouth healthy.”

“When procedures such as periodontal probing, intraoral radiography, dental scaling and dental extraction are justified by the oral examination, they should be performed under anesthesia,” the updated policy states.

Approved unanimously and without discussion was Resolution 4, which changes the policy on the declawing of domestic cats to strongly encourage client education about the “major surgery,” the risks and what constitutes normal scratching behavior.

An amendment to the policy declared that the decision to declaw a cat should be made by the owner “in consultation with the veterinarian.”

In other action, the House:

  • Elected North Carolina veterinarian Joseph H. Kinnarney, DVM, MS, as president-elect. The Cornell University graduate will take over from incoming 2014-15 President Theodore Cohn, DVM, in one year.
  • Elected another North Carolina veterinarian, Rebecca E. Stinson, DVM, as vice president and chose Melanie A. Marsden, DVM, of Colorado Springs, Colo., to serve on the House Advisory Committee.
  • Rejected Bylaws Amendment 4, which would have replaced the House set-up of delegates and alternate delegates. The voting members of each veterinary organization represented in the House would have chosen an elected delegate, if the measure had passed, and the organization would have picked a designated delegate through election or appointment.
  • Approved Bylaws Amendment 5, which limits the Executive Board’s district members to a four-year term instead of six. The change will generate “greater participation,” said District 11 member Thomas F. Meyer, DVM, of Vancouver, Wash.
  • Approved with 99 percent of the vote a revised policy on pregnant sow housing. Resolution 3 advises that breeding pigs should be given “adequate quality and quantity of space that allows sows to assume normal postures and express normal patterns of behavior.” AVMA also “encourages ongoing research to better understand and meet the welfare needs of gestating sows.”
  • Passed with 93.2 percent of the vote Resolution 5, which updates the policy on the judicious therapeutic use of antimicrobials. One objective of the policy is to “maintain efficacy of antimicrobials by minimizing potential for development and transmission of resistance.”
  • Returned to the Executive Board the revised and reformatted Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics. The Texas Veterinary Medical Association opposed Resolution 8 because the word “should” was replaced by “shall” throughout the document.

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