AVMA convention recap
Black and White headshot of IndeVets Employee lindsay
Words by:
Lindsay Wolcott — Associate IndeVet

Dr. Wolcott shares 5 takeaways from this year’s AVMA Convention in Philadelphia. The IndeVets booth is pictured above.

Back in 2020 I was all set to go to the American Veterinary Medical Association’s annual convention in San Diego when a pandemic, caused by a then unknown coronavirus, shut down everything.  While I was disappointed that I wouldn’t get to go to the zoo (I know, priorities, right?), I knew that canceling the convention was the safest course of action.

Fast forward 2 years later and we are meeting in person again thanks to the amazing work of scientists around the world who have developed several vaccines in record time.

After sitting in lectures for 8 hours a day from top veterinarians over 5 days I learned a lot. Here are just a few interesting takeaways from the AVMA Convention that I wish to share with you all.

*Disclaimer: I am not sponsored or being compensated by any company for mentioning any product.*

Takeaway #1: Laverdia-CA1 is a new at-home lymphoma treatment

We now have a new option in general practice to treat lymphoma cases. The drug Laverdia-CA1, developed by Dechra, has conditional approval from the FDA to start treating lymphoma cases in dogs. If any vet diagnoses lymphoma they can prescribe this medication to their patients.

This will be great treatment option for clients who can’t go see a specialist but want to do more targeted approach than just immunosupressive doses of prednisone. It will also be useful for clients who are waiting for an appointment with the oncologist and want to start treatment in the mean time. It can also be used after chemo if a client can’t afford another round but still wants to continue some form of treatment at home.

Even more exciting is that the drug shouldn’t be out of the range of most house hold budgets. Estimated cost to clients will be in the $80-300* range per month depending on the pets weight. (Note: prices have not been confirmed yet). And since its a targeted drug there shouldn’t be the same side effects as with prednisone.

You do have to wear gloves when handling this product, pregnant people shouldn’t handle the pills if possible, and it is given twice a week by the owners. It should be available now to order.

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Takeaway #2: Updates in diarrhea management

Chances are your dog has a case of diarrhea in the past few years. In fact, I can practically guarantee it. Conventional treatment for decades consisted of an antibiotic, a short course of probiotics, a bland diet, and a medication to firm up the stool.

Studies have now shown that giving pets longer courses of pre and probiotics in conjunction with a prescription GI diet works just as well, if not better, than using an antibiotic, like metronidazole, and probiotics alone.

With the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria veterinarians are trying to be more judicious when using antibiotics. In fact, one of the of the best “good” gut bacteria is killed off when we use antibiotics and is hard to replace with conventional probiotics. So maintaining the original flora is important.

There is also evidence to show that prescription gastrointestinal diets, such as Hill’s gastrointestinal biome, are extremely beneficial in treating diarrhea cases instead of boiling chicken and rice. Prescription diets are formulated to restore GI function while still giving the pet all the nutrition he or she needs on a daily basis.

This is great news to know we don’t have to use antibiotics to treat the every day run-of-the-mill diarrhea cases. If the diarrhea doesn’t start resolve in 2-3 days with this course of treatment then we do start looking for other underlying causes. With this new evidence I will be changing how I manage simple diarrhea cases going forward, and so far so good.

Takeaway #3: Solensia is a new option for osteoarthritis (OA) pain in cats

This is a new product coming from Zoetis in the next few months that I am very excited about. The UK has already had access for a while now and my friends who practice overseas love it.

Solensia is a new biologic medication (like cytopoint for dogs) for osteoarthritis pain in cats. It is a monoclonal antibody that targets pain receptors. That means there are fewer side effects as compared to traditional anti inflammatory medication. In general options for medications that are made especially for cats are few and far between anyway so this is a great development for our feline patients.

If your cat is  gaining weight, grooming less, not going up and down stairs as well as before; refusing to play and jump, or not wanting to be petted, then they are showing signs of arthritis and would benefit from this new drug.

Solensia is a once a month subcutaneous (under the skin) injection to help reduce OA pain. During the drug trials most cat owners saw visible improvement in their cats symptoms within the first two injections.

And yes, this is meant to be a life long treatment and we don’t know what the price will be just yet.  While you will have to bring your cat to the vet monthly for the injection this does mean you won’t have to try to pill your cat at home. I call that a win and totally worth it.

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Takeaway #4: Heartworm updates

I’m sure every single one you reading this article gets a heartworm test done every year on your dog and is up to date on heartworm prevention. However, on the off chance one of you is not then let me plead with you.. please get your dogs tested and on prevention asap.

New studies have shown that dogs infected with heartworms have lung pathology (damage to the lungs) by the fifth month of infection. And guess what? Our blood tests will only find infections 6 months after the initial infecting mosquito bite, once the worms are adults.

That means that the microfilaria, the baby worms, are also doing damage to the lungs before damage is created by the adult heartworms. This is now proof that the heart and lungs are being damaged by all of the life stages of the worms.

The other interesting finding is that if a dog had an heartworm infection as a young dog, was treated, and had subsequent negative tests for its whole life, permanent damage to the heart and lungs were found on necropsy regardless of the cause of death.

Therefore, no matter what age a pet had heartworm disease they will have permanent damage. Luckily, not all of these pets show clinical signs, but we know it is present.

So PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE start prevention at 8 weeks of age and maintain it year round throughout the pets life to PREVENT heartworm disease as heartworms are found in every state in the U.S.

Takeway #5: Speaking of heart disease…

There are two heart medications that gotten recent FDA approval.

The first is Cardalis its a once a day flavored tab that is a combination of spironolactone and benazepril. Historically, we had to use two pills instead of one chewable tablet. In order to be prescribed this medication your vet will have to confirm congestive heart failure (CHF) in your pet. That usually consists of hearing a murmur and finding heart enlargement on a chest radiograph and/or finding heart failure on an echo (an ultrasound of the heart). There are several classes of heart disease in dogs. This medication is started in Class C dogs.

The other medication is a pimobendan (Vetmedin) reformulation. While pimobendan has been on the market for a while for CHF, the new product Vetmedin-CA1 is a chewable version for dogs. This is for class B2 dogs, who have a heart murmur and an enlarged heart, but no clinical signs of congestive heart failure.

Regular pimobendan is already approved for mild, moderate, or severe CHF. During a huge study done a few years ago it was  found to have huge benefits to delay the progression of heart disease if started in the stage B2 of heart disease. Again your vet will let you know if your pet needs this medication and what is required in order to start it.

Additionally Ceva, the makers of Cardalis have a wonderful new app to help pet owners monitor their pets and understand heart disease. As a vet this is a great tool to have the owners help you understand how the pet is doing at home. Visit CevaConnect.com and click on the app downloading instructions.

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In closing

It was a fun jam packed weekend and there are more tidbits I wish I could share, but it would take a book to cover it all. So ask your vet if they went to the AVMA this year and see what classes they took, after all we never truly stop learning, even after graduation!

Til next year!

Dr. Lindsay Wolcott is an Associate IndeVet practicing in South Carolina.

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