Fetch Charlotte lunch and learn to highlight pet DNA testing

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Dr Ernie Ward will join Dr Adam Christman during Lunch with a Legend to update on how pet genetic testing will quickly become a standard of care

On the first day of the Fetch dvm360® Charlotte Conference, a Continuing Education lunch and learn sponsored by Basepaws—Lunch with a Legend: Decoding Pet DNA Tests—will be led by Ernie Ward, DVM, CVFT, and Adam Christman, DVM, MBA, dvm360 chief veterinary officer.

yana136 / stock.adobe.com

yana136 / stock.adobe.com

Ward, also known as “America’s Pet Advocate,” has had an extensive career focusing on pet obesity and nutrition, life extension and longevity, practice management and leadership, and more. He’s worked on both the clinical and business side of veterinary medicine, authored books and medical publications, and has appeared on various television programs, including as the resident veterinarian of the Rachael Ray Show for 7 years.

This Lunch with a Legend lecture will delve into the importance of DNA testing and genomic sequencing and how these tools will advance proactive care in veterinary medicine. In a dvm360 interview, Ward expressed, “I'm excited to share the stage with Adam Christman…It'll be a very provocative conversation…because, really, to date, the only thing most veterinary professionals know about genetic testing in pets is breed identification. And so, we've really moved beyond, as I like to say, ‘Who's your daddy?’ into ‘What conditions are you at risk for?’ And that's a huge paradigm shift…I'm not as interested in what makeup you [are], I'm more interested in that individual's DNA, and what risk factors might be present.”

In the interview, Ward further shared a preview of what will be discussed at this lunch and learn.

The power of proactive care

It’s no secret that genes encode the blueprint of life and health. That’s why, according to Ward, Basepaws utilizes next generation sequencing to detect hundreds of markers, including genes and mutations, that are associated with certain diseases. Then, for example, if a patient is at risk for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the veterinarian works with the pet owner to implement lifestyle changes and precise monitoring of the pet, as these proactive measures can lead to better clinical outcomes.

“When veterinarians are saying, ‘Why should I do [genetic testing]?’ it's because you want to see what's up ahead, and you want to try to mitigate or prevent whenever possible. And I think that's really the goal of medicine is not just to treat disease, but in my worldview, to prevent disease, to actually enhance health by preserving and maintaining homeostasis in an individual,” said Ward.

Along with improving patients’ quality of life and potentially promoting their longevity, the information from pet DNA tests also provides pet owners peace of mind by preparing them. Veterinarians can warn clients of common symptoms of diseases their pets are likely to have, for instance, having epileptic fits, so when the moment comes, they know how to respond in that situation. “Veterinarians really need to understand that preparing a pet owner for potentiality is really important part of what we do, because otherwise, we're constantly locked into a state of reactivity, right? We react when [dogs] have the seizure, as opposed to preparing them for what to do if it ever occurs. And then maybe again, in many instances, there are going to be some lifestyle choices that can even prevent medical interventions from ever occurring in the first place.”

Ward concluded by sharing he is looking forward to educating veterinary professionals on how this genetic data can inform and improve their decisions and actions around pet care. “This is the first foray into what we call precision medicine. Understanding the genetic blueprint of life for the pet patients that we serve, that's just the first start, and actually now delivering very individualized medicine. It's very exciting,” he said.

For those interested in attending Lunch with a Legend, be sure you’re registered for the Fetch dvm360® Charlotte Conference here. Lunch is provided with limited seating available on a first come, first serve basis. The session will be held on Friday, March 24, 2023, from 12:15 to 1:15 pm, in room W209AB.

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