Veterinary thought leaders forecast profession's future


Predictions include advances in stem cell therapy and increase in pet insurance's popularity.

The organizers of the 2015 Petplan Veterinary Awards invited its winners and finalists to share their predictions about what changes the next five years could bring for the future of pet healthcare. The projections include changes in technology, treatments, understanding of animal behavior and pet insurance.

Mark Dilworth - Veterinarian and Practice Principal at Beaches Animal Hospital in Toronto


I'm excited by the prospect of minimally invasive treatments becoming more widely available for pets, such as the next generation of ultrasound. Advancements in endoscopic surgery and stem cell therapy offer less invasive treatments and fresh hope for our four-legged friends.



Monique Feyrecilde - Veterinary Technician and Hospital Manager at Mercer Island Veterinary Clinic in Washington


Monique's passion is animal behavior and improving welfare. She uses low stress handling techniques to help furry friends stay calm during their clinic visit.

The best therapy in the world is useless if the client cannot afford it. I am encouraged by the rise in popularity of pet insurance, which makes these treatments accessible to more and more pet parents.

As knowledge of animal behavior becomes more widespread, I believe veterinary professionals will make greater use of the science of behavior to meet the emotional and psychological needs of pets in addition to their physical health. In the future, I hope the rate of euthanasia due to unwanted behaviors will decline, and the practical application of behavioral wellness will make veterinary clinics a happier place for sick pets and their worried parents to visit.


Samantha Fritz-Waibel - Specialty Veterinary Technician (oncology) at Center for Animal Referral and Emergency Services (CARES) in Pennsylvania


In some respects, the future has already arrived when it comes to the rapid diagnosis and staging of cancer. With in-house MRI and CT-scans, as well as specialist lab equipment, a pet can be screened and a prognosis reached faster than ever before. Now what needs to happen is for treatment to catch up, and this is happening with some exciting new therapies that are within touching distance.

This includes an immunotherapy technique that stimulates the body's own defenses to fight cancer, which means a highly targeted therapy with few side effects. Another encouraging movement going forward is a closer coordination of drugs trials for human and canine drugs, for the benefit of both. By pooling results, effective therapies should become available faster.



Sarah Governski - Lead Veterinary Technician at Hope Advanced Veterinary Center in Virginia


Nothing stands still for long in veterinary practice, and my work is aided by constant updates and modernization of the sophisticated equipment I use every day. To keep pace with developments, I foresee an increase in the provision of continuing education, seminar-based and online, targeted towards veterinary technicians. These courses will recognize the diverse skills of veterinary technicians, from those who are newly qualified up to specialist technicians. And this hints at another future development, with veterinary technicians being used to their full potential by training in specialties to provide a vital resource for pet parents and doctors alike.

Tracey Jensen - Veterinarian and Practice Owner at Wellington Veterinary Hospital in Colorado


In the long term, the Morris Animal Foundation's “Canine Lifetime Health Project” aims to amass a wealth of data about genetic and environmental influences on disease, with the visionary goal of improving the health of our canine companions. As the research from Morris Animal Foundation emerges with a deeper understanding of what makes pets sick, we can take steps to avoid those problems in the first place.

One of the toughest aspects about this profession is seeing the anguish emerge across a pet parent's face when they can't afford the best treatment. I hope that the rise of pet insurance means fewer people are faced with a heartbreaking dilemma about whether their precious furry family member can be given their best chance or not.


Matthew Wheaton - Veterinarian and Practice Owner at Alicia Pet Care Center in California


Advances in genetic testing and screening could guide us toward improving the long term health of our canine companions. Genetic screening opens the door to assessing an individual's risk of disease and passing a condition on to their offspring. By identifying such problems, it stimulates discussion about how best to limit inherited conditions to ensure long, healthy lives for future generations.

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