The New Year always brings about a rash of Top 10 lists. Rather than trying to buck the trend, I thought I would join right in. Here are my votes for the Top 10 Veterinary Stories of 2013.

 

10. Origins of Domestic Dogs

 

Dogs are so much a part of human society that the question of how our interspecies partnership arose is garnering special attention. Two lines of thought vied to become “top dog,” but the jury is still out as to which will eventually hold sway.

 

9. Vaccinating Cats in the Tail

 

In an attempt to improve treatment outcomes in cats who develop injection site sarcomas after vaccination, researchers investigated whether or not vaccinating cats in the tail could be a safe and effective option. A preliminary study looked hopeful.

 

8. Antibiotics in the Food Supply

 

The controversy over the use of antibiotics as growth promotants in livestock came to a head this year. In December, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration weighed in with changes to veterinary feed directive regulation that will phase in requirements for increased veterinary oversight of the practice and phase out the use of those antibiotics deemed important in human medicine.

 

7. USDA Cracks Down on Internet “Pet Stores”

 

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) revised the Animal Welfare Act’s definition of a “retail pet store” in such a way as to bring internet pet retailers under the umbrella of the Animal Welfare Act while still exempting brick and mortar pet stores from regulation. They also increased from three to four the number of breeding females that “hobby” breeders can maintain before they would be required to be licensed under the Animal Welfare Act. All this was done in hopes of increasing APHIS oversight of those breeders most likely to run shady operations.

 

6. Outbreak of “New” Canine Disease in Ohio and Michigan

 

Reports emerged of illnesses and deaths in dogs in Ohio and Michigan that may or may not be associated with canine circovirus. Evidence is pointing to a multifactorial cause to the disease (in other words, infection with circovirus alone isn’t sufficient to produce disease), but the cause remains elusive.

 

5. The Importance of Environmental Enrichment in Cats

 

Experts are weighing in on how an environment that relieves boredom and promotes activity in cats is essential to promoting feline well being and preventing disease.

 

4. Spay/Neuter Controversy

 

With some research highlighting the potential downsides of spaying and neutering dogs and other studies showing that sterilized dogs live longer than their unaltered counterparts, the debate over if and when to sterilize pets rages on.

 

3. Protecting Pets in the Event of Natural Disasters

 

2013 was a bad year for natural disasters. So much so that it got me to thinking about what owners can do to protect their pets (especially cats) in the event of an evacuation or the need to shelter in place for an extended period of time.

 

2. Pets are Good for Human Health

 

New research added to the evidence that owning pets, particularly dogs, is good for a person’s cardiovascular health. And in December, Time magazine reported on a study that might reveal the reason why kids who are raised in animal-rich environments have a lower incidence of asthma and allergies.

 

1. Pet Food Safety

 

From the continuing saga of illnesses in dogs and cats associated with the ingestion of jerky treats made from Chinese ingredients to the large number of pet food recalls (due in part to increased monitoring for Salmonella), pet food safety was the number one veterinary story of 2013.

 

Dr. Jennifer Coates

 

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