Shabby chic is not 'in' in Vegas. This, despite the inexplicable existence of exactly one Urban Outfitters shop inside the Mandalay Bay complex. So it was that when I noticed the "U" in Luxor was missing from it's perch, and the classic black glass exterior was obviously in need of a deep window-cleaning … I knew things might not be so perfect in paradise this time around.

The thing about Vegas is this: everyone seems to want to hold conferences here; which I just don't get. Disney I can understand — kids love it and middle Americans moan in time to "It's a Small World". And how about New Orleans, D.C., New York, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, Seattle … what's wrong with these places? Why do we have to suffer the paper-mâché pyramids, Day-Glo casinos and continuous rate alcohol infusions that are so seemingly inherent to the Vegas draw? I mean, the food is no longer as good as it used to be (if Wolfgang's sad excuse for the tomatoes in a $17 caprese salad is any guide), the service is tending towards mediocre and the scenery is almost as tacky as the outfits.

But enough of all that whining. I'm just glad to be finally at the airport, waiting for a very delayed red eye flight instead of watching all those fashion don'ts parade by on their cheap, teetering heels.

I'm trying to think positive. And my positives are actually looking pretty impressive now that I'm trying hard to enumerate them. After all, once you get past the smarmy sleaze of any conference venue, a meeting is the sum of more than just its parts (i.e., location, location, location).

This time I learned more than just a little bit about bite wounds, bandaging techniques and feline viruses (at the lectures I attended). I also got treated to a teeming exhibit hall full of the new things now taking vet med by storm.

OK, so let me be honest: The quantity of truly new things might've been lacking (not as many as in conferences past), but the spirit was willing. To be sure, I got lots of team spirit from the drug and product reps in attendance.

Indeed, if I was to summarize new products for you, there might be only five very interesting items worth discussing (and not necessarily because I love 'em so, but perhaps more so because of their persistent ubiquity).

1: Parasite killers on the move. Between the new topical flea killers for cats and the new six-month tick collar for dogs, parasite control is getting more manageable.

2: Lasers! It's a fad, perhaps, but therapeutic laser devices are everywhere. Looks like I'll be doing a post on this sometime soon.

3: Pet food takes to the long tail. From new products that address portion control and obesity to the myriad novel protein diets and smaller pet kibble sizes, the take is the same: Tackle the niche issues and you shall succeed. And I cannot say they're going about it wrongly.

4: Digital devices are disappearing! Well, not exactly, but they are selling like hotcakes, and they're getting smaller and more portable with each passing conference.

5: Stem cell stuff everywhere! Yes, everywhere. You couldn't walk halfway down an aisle in the exhibition hall without being reminded that stem cell injection is a big deal in vet med. (Check out this week's post on this topic for more info on this not-yet proven but wildly popular approach to orthopedic issues in dogs and horses.)


That's all I've got. Any thoughts? Questions?

Dr. Patty Khuly

Pic of the day: Dog pods by expatriotact