10 veterinary stories that blew us away in 2016

October 4, 2016

Some extraordinary, some disquieting-at least in terms of implications for the future of veterinary medicine. Take a retrospective tour with us.

Wait, what just happened? (Getty Images)You'll see us looking toward the future in many articles as a part of our Leadership Challenge focused on the what's to come in veterinary medicine that we've dubbed forecats and predogtions. But it's interesting to take stock of how far the veterinary profession has come, even within a one-year timespan (OK, we're cheating a bit since it's not even December yet). But we did look at the breaking news in dvm360 magazine since January of this year and found these articles that may get you dreaming-or cringing in the corner-for what is to come.

So do you want the good news first or the bad? If the good, click on over to page 2. For the bad, go to page 3.


Rejoice, and long live pets! Good times are ahead. (Getty Images)Five positive portents

1. Wonder procedures. Whether borrowing techniques used in another species or using good-old ingenuity on the fly, veterinarians are always coming up with new ways to fix common problems with fewer complications: Cutting-edge approach solves the riddle of a sphynx's blocked ureter; Dry-eyed at last: Nasolacrimal stenting procedure corrects a cat's tear duct obstruction

2. Wonder drugs. As knowledge of the way we all tick biologically increases, here is but one example of pharmaceutical companies really using that knowledge to fix or enhance those pets that need a boost when something is a bit awry: Aratana Therapeutics receives FDA approval of canine appetite stimulus

3. Animal welfare of primary importance. This innovation combines technicological savvy (a fake dog really breathes and bleeds!) along with doing away with the need for actual cadavers to practice surgical techniques hands-on: Realistic dog model created in effort to replace canine cadavers for veterinary surgical teaching

4. Truly high-tech in every practice. So we're not quite to a Star Trek tricorder yet, but other innovations, such as almost immediate delivery of needed tests or drugs by drones, is right here right now, as soon as commercial use is cleared, that is: The Future of Veterinary Medicine: Drones in veterinary practice

5. Pets will live forever! Well, yes, this really is a dream, but compounds are being investigated that can at least extend life and keep pets (and people) feeling youthful longer: Rapamycin: A real fountain of youth?

(So that's the good news, ready for the not so good? Go on over to page 3.)


Picture of innocence. Or is it? (Just what are these two sharing?) (Getty Images)Five hair-raising harbingers

1. Devastating disease outbreaks. It seems like diseases are now passing more readily between species and harmful parasites are carrying worse and worse diseases, surviving in harsher climates, and spreading like wildfire. Is the zombie apocalypse really that far away? Canine flu now affecting cats too; Senator introduces legislation fight diseases such as Zika and Ebola; 2016 tick update: Populations are spreading

2. Veterinary practice dictated by legislature. Whether state or federal, laws are being passed that can affect the treatment options you can offer in your practice: NJ politician introduces statewide declaw ban

3. The need for expensive veterinary malpractice insurance. We know human doctors have to carry a lot of liability insurance because of the litigious nature of people. We're all carefully watching those cases that are trying to establish pets as more than just possessions, putting veterinarians in the same boat: Georgia Supreme Court rules pet owners can recover veterinary costs in negligence cases

4. Obese becomes just the norm. Just like people, the percentage of overweight or obese pets keeps growing. Will obese become the benchmark and the whole scale shift upward? Annual survey finds swelling numbers in overweight pets

5. No one can pay back their student loans. One thing that is stressing a lot of veterinarians is the amount of debt it takes now to get through veterinary school and the relatively low-paying jobs that come their way once they graduate, when compared with other medical professions. Will these pressures ease or become insurmountable? Can we quantify the true cost of veterinary student debt?

(Need a little cheering up? If you skipped to the bad news first, click over to page 2, quick!)

And that's our list. What has happened this year in veterinary medicine that has you hoping for tomorrow or hanging on for dear life to today?