In ‘08, Change Is Brewing On Many Fronts

With the new year comes endless new possibilities for expanded horizons.

When a new year begins, we often think about change. At times, change challenges our comfort zone and goes beyond expectations. An accepted concept can get turned upside down when new information unveils the truth. Look at the old Food Triangle, for example. It had carbohydrates as the base and meats at the pinnacle. With epidemic obesity-associated diabetes, in people and pets, a new word has evolved, “diabesity.” Now, the Food Triangle is turned upside down.

We should embrace that change for our pets, as well. We know not to eat doughnuts, pastries, soft drinks and pasta all day long as sustenance. We now know that a strict dry-food diet for cats may cause “diabesity” and other illness. Cats are obligate carnivores. Despite the convenience of dry food, cats need and thrive on meaty food. People are reading the book, Your Cat: Simple New Secrets to a Longer, Stronger Life, by Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins, Esq. People want to feed their pets properly, even though they might not be feeding themselves properly.

Try this change: For one month, ask your staff to eat fresh fruit and a protein, such as low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts, or a veggie omelet for breakfast, salads for lunch, and an early light dinner. At the end of the month, count the lost pounds!

While in Istanbul for a wedding, I was surprised to find a typical Turkish breakfast comprises yogurt, sliced cucumbers, pickles, tomatoes and cheese.

Urge your staff  to get off the fast-food frenzy. I recall one practice consultant advised us to eat a good breakfast, get off caffeine, sugar and candy bars to prevent sugar highs and lows. This simple advice evened out our temperaments.

The social ethic on how farm animals are treated is changing to the good shepherd philosophy. People who eat meat want all livestock to have quality of life and a quick, painless ending. Society now asks agriculturalists to provide animals with their basic needs. Most conscious people abhor the idea of force-feeding geese for the pleasure of pate!

We’ve also seen changes off the farm and outside of nutrition. West Hollywood, Calif.’s non-therapeutic declawing ban changed history for organized veterinary medicine. The California Veterinary Medical Assn. was denied its petition for review by the California Supreme Court. Those of us who are older served society when this was a non-issue. The language implies that veterinarians “mutilate” during this surgery. Count on change and more legal struggles over cosmetic surgery in companion animals.

Vaccine Delivery Changes

Respected veterinary scientists have provided information that encourages reconsideration of how and when to vaccinate. Many veterinarians still can’t resist the temptation to over vaccinate. Some veterinarians feel defensive and resent the public attack on vaccines and the profession in general. Research scientists have reminded the profession that vaccines are potent biologic drugs with immunity that extends for years. Immunity lasts longer than the booster sequences that have been traditionally recommended. The profession has been asked to revise hospital reminders to stress the physical exam and the client-veterinarian relationship and to adjust vaccine delivery relevant to current information about the pet.

The American Animal Hospital Assn. and American Veterinary Medical Assn. guidelines state vaccines carry the real risk of serious adverse side affects, including vaccine-associated sarcomas, especially in cats. The guidelines state vaccines should be administered no more than necessary to maintain immunity. Knowledge regarding the extended durations of immunity from vaccines is now on the Internet. Full disclosure regarding immunity duration information and over-vaccination has been openly discussed in state legislatures in recent years. The demand for change is upon the entire profession.

Politics of the Veterinary Field

Have you thought about changing the Veterinarians Oath? Discussions periodically appear on the Society for Veterinary Medical Ethics list serve to modernize the oath. Veterinarians want the oath to reflect the increased appreciation of companion animals in society and the value of the human-animal bond. The Assn. of Veterinarians for Animal Rights revised their oath to reflect these sentiments. Join the SVME and the American Assn. of Human-Animal Bond Veterinarians to add your input.

Have you thought about changing how our organizations make policy? Change is brewing. Jon Geller, DVM, an emergency practitioner in Fort Collins, Colo., said, “I think we share a passionate belief that we have an ethical obligation to ensure the humane treatment of all animals, and that this should be the current number one priority of the AVMA. Thinking about the politics, several options come to mind:

• A "within-the-system" grassroots movement to replace the AVMA delegates with others who share our priority. This is probably very achievable with recruitment of recent graduates who are uninspired by the current leadership.
• Lobbying for a major organizational change that allows all AVMA members to vote directly for the AVMA president.
• Expansion of alternative organizations through veterinary school recruitment.
• Civil disobedience, massive press releases and public demonstrations at AVMA meetings and conventions.
• My answer to Jon was wishful that our delegates would read Animal Welfare and Ethics by Frank McMillan & Bernie Rollin, (eds.), Blackwell Publishing, 2006, and The Human-Animal Relationship by de Jonge & Van Der Bos (eds.), Royal Van Gorcum, Netherlands, 2005.

Pawspice, immunonutrition, chemoprevention, integrative medicine, hospitalist, criticalist, wellfarist, over treatment, futile medicine, stewardship, genomics, proteomics, stem cells, diabesity, CureCanineCancerCampaign, quality of life, human-animal bond, weapons of mass deception, Katrina, wildfires, disaster preparedness; these terms, and more, are upon us.

The human-animal bond will hold our diversified profession together as the world transforms. An open mind and the willingness to embrace new concepts and meaningful research will facilitate changes for 2008 and beyond.

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