Blue Buffalo honors National Pet Cancer Awareness Month in New York City
Event hosted at the AKC Museum of the Dog featured an esteemed veterinary oncologist highlighting promising strides in the field throughout her career
Sponsored by Blue Buffalo
On the evening of November 2, 2022, Blue Buffalo Co, Ltd, hosted an event focused on pet cancer advancements at the prestigious American Kennel Club (AKC) Museum of the Dog in New York, New York to bring attention to National Pet Cancer Awareness Month. Blue Buffalo’s commitment to pet oncology research runs deep as the company was founded in 2002 by the Bishop family as a homage to their late dog Blue, an Airedale terrier who passed away from this devastating disease.
In a dvm360® interview at the event, guest speaker, Ann Hohenhaus, DVM, DACVIM (SAIM, Oncology), CVJ, senior veterinarian at The Schwarzman Animal Medical Center in New York, New York, highlighted the prevalence of pet cancer. “National Pet Cancer Awareness Month is not just 1 month of the year. There are people like me at the Schwarzman Animal Medical Center and oncologists everywhere who treat pets with cancer every single day.”
Hohenhaus also touched upon encouraging advancements in oncology at the event while attendees admired the museum’s sophisticated canine-themed art including paintings and bronze sculptures, engaged with the interactive technology, and enjoyed a cocktail hour and hors d’oeuvres. The AKC Museum of the Dog was a fitting location for the occasion as it moved from Saint Louis to New York in 2019, and according to Deborah Kasindorf, executive director and CEO of the AKC Museum of the Dog, “the AKC Museum of the Dog is really the only fine art museum, I think in the world, with this extensive of a collection that celebrates the canine-human bond.”
During Hohenhaus’ speech, she began by reflecting on how different the oncology field was when she was a veterinary resident in the 1980s. "At that time, we couldn't even really be a cancer specialist. What you could do was an internal medicine residency, and then just treat pets with cancer, so I applied and got accepted for a residency in internal medicine. And if you wanted to be a surgical oncologist, you just did a surgery residency and did lots of surgery on pets with cancer. And there was no radiation oncology college. Those people actually did diagnostic imaging residencies, and then treated pets with radiation.”
She added that when she was a resident there were also no chemotherapy drugs available for dogs, so human drugs were used on pets, mostly through trial and error. There were also few radiation oncology machines to treat pets so veterinary oncologists would use human radiation therapy facilities on nights and weekends to care for their patients.
Hohenhaus emphasized that the veterinary oncology world is completely different today and incredible progress has been made in treating pet cancer. “There are now nearly 600 board-certified oncologists. We have 115 board-certified radiation oncologists, which is not nearly enough, but it's better than the 0 that we started with before. Our newest oncology specialty is the surgical oncology fellows. And there are 52 members,” she shared. Hohenhaus also mentioned that specialty certification in oncology has blossomed outside of the US, including in Europe and Asia.
Additionally, there have been improvements in diagnosing cancer and providing individualized treatments. Hohenhaus cited that there are currently 4 veterinary-specific oncology medications: 2 approved drugs, a third with conditional approval, and a cancer vaccine.
Despite this uplifting information, there is much more to uncover in cancer research, according to Hohenhaus. She highlighted how Blue Buffalo and its partners have played a role in contributing to this cause. This includes Blue Buffalo donating $6 million to the Blue Buffalo Veterinary Clinical Trial Office at the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, which has funded clinical trials to advance pet cancer care. What's more, since 2016, Blue Buffalo and Petco have partnered with Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine to help pet owners who could not otherwise afford the cost of cancer treatment in their pets with a $650,000 gift that has funded care for 250 pets to date.
These are just a few instances. Throughout the years, Blue Buffalo has and continues to team up with additional organizations focused on pet cancer research including the Morris Animal Foundation, Animal Cancer Foundation, and with Petco Love Foundation, the company helps covers cancer treatment costs for pet owners who cannot afford it.
In a dvm360® interview, Hohenhaus concluded with a promising note, “What I want people to take away from our conversation tonight is that there are treatments for pet cancer, there are more oncologists than there ever were before. We now have radiation therapy specialists for animals, we have surgery specialists, and all those things available to the public mean that pets get better care and we should think positively about treating pets with cancer.”