Regulatory Convergence Key to Improve Access to Veterinary Medicines say Global Veterinary Associations

logo-white-backgroundArtboard-1Eleven global veterinary associations have signed a Position Statement calling for increased regulatory convergence and harmonization in order to ensure that veterinarians globally can access the medicines they need to treat their patients.  The Statement, initiated by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA), is the latest step in its campaign to secure more equal access to vital veterinary medicines for companion animal veterinarians around the world.

Restricted access to veterinary medicines because of regulatory issues in regions of the world including Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia, is a long-standing problem and limits the efforts of many veterinarians to provide optimal care to their patients.  Sometimes, even essential medicines, such as those required to properly manage pain, are difficult to access, causing immense and unnecessary suffering.

The WSAVA recently formed a Therapeutics Guidelines Group (TGG) to spearhead its work in this area and to campaign to ensure more open access to these medications.  Its new Position Statement is designed to raise awareness of the problems around regulation and to call on governments and regulatory bodies to act.  The Statement has been endorsed by:

It follows a 2018 Position Statement from the WSAVA outlining a range of factors which restrict global access to veterinary medicines and the significant impact on animal health and welfare this causes.  This statement also received wide support from the veterinary sector, including those associations listed above.

In a survey of its members conducted by the WSAVA during 2016-2017, 75% of respondents confirmed that that problems in accessing veterinary medical products hampered their ability to meet the needs of their patients and 20% assessed the impact of this issue as resulting in a severe restriction on their ability to provide a high level of care.  During its 2019 World Congress in Toronto, Canada, in July, the WSAVA’s Therapeutics Guidelines Group convened a summit meeting of global veterinary associations and stakeholders to discuss potential solutions.  The new Position Statement was one of the outputs from this meeting.

Dr Walt Ingwersen

Dr Walt Ingwersen

Commenting, Dr Walt Ingwersen, WSAVA Past President, said: “Difficulty in accessing therapeutics to treat patients is a critical issue for companion animal veterinarians in many parts of the world.  It causes huge frustration and means that many, if not most, companion animals globally do not receive optimum care.  It’s a situation which requires urgent change and, working in partnership with our colleagues across the veterinary sector, we are focused on bringing this about.

“While a number of issues impact the supply of veterinary medicines, duplication of the regulatory medicines approval process in various regions of the world is one of the biggest and the focus of our Joint Position Statement on Regulatory Convergence. The WSAVA Therapeutics Guidelines Group has been working hard on the issue of access to and availability of veterinary medicines and will shortly be announcing the first of a set of practical tools to support veterinarians and their associations to lobby their own governments and regulatory bodies.

“To support them, we, as a global veterinary community, will continue to demand change at a global level and our Position Statements are proving effective in increasing understanding and prompting action.”

He added: “We thank our colleagues in other veterinary associations for standing with us and we will continue to collaborate closely to ensure that all veterinarians have access to the drugs they need to treat their patients.”

The WSAVA represents more than 200,000 veterinarians worldwide through its 113 member associations and works to enhance standards of clinical care for companion animals.  Its core activities include the development of WSAVA Global Guidelines in key areas of veterinary practice and lobbying on important issues affecting companion animal care worldwide.

WSAVA and The Webinar Vet Collaboration Offers Free Access to Virtual Congress 2020

logo-white-backgroundArtboard-1The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) and The Webinar Vet have joined forces to offer free access to Virtual Congress 2020 to WSAVA members from countries in which companion animal practice is still developing. Discounted registration will also be offered to all other WSAVA members.

 

The Webinar Vet’s Virtual Congress is the world’s largest online veterinary congress. The 2020 Congress will take place on February 1 and will include webinars from global experts on a comprehensive range of topics, including companion animal medicine and surgery, dermatology, emergency medicine and veterinary wellness.

WSAVA works to enhance the clinical care and welfare of companion animals globally, representing more than 200,000 veterinarians around the world through its 110 member associations. Its core activities include the creation of Global Guidelines that set standards for veterinary care in key areas of practice, including nutrition, pain management and welfare.

 

Anthony Chadwick

Dr Anthony Chadwick

Set up by British veterinarian Anthony Chadwick BVSC Cert VD MRCVS to make continuous education (CE) easier, more accessible and affordable, The Webinar Vet is the largest online veterinary community in Europe and is rapidly extending into the North and South America, Asia and Africa.

 

Commenting, Dr Chadwick said: “The Webinar Vet aims to help veterinary healthcare team members to become more confident in their practice and to fit their learning into a busy life in the profession without having to take time out of work or to travel.

 

“Thanks to all the tickets sold to developed countries over the last five years, our 1-4-1 initiative, under which we donate a ticket to one veterinarian in a developing country for every ticket we sell, has already provided free access to Virtual Congress to more than 5,000 veterinarians from developing countries as part of our mission of making CE accessible to all. We hope that by partnering with the WSAVA we can increase this ten-fold and we are delighted to offer all of its members from developing countries free access to the vast array of learning on offer at the event.”

WSAVA President Dr Shane Ryan said: “Increasing access to veterinary CE is the most effective way to advance the skills and knowledge of veterinarians around the world. Online CE can be an affordable and convenient option for our colleagues in those countries where traditional CE access is limited. We anticipate that many of our members will take up the offer of free or discounted access to Virtual Congress 2020 and so take advantage of the great learning on offer.”

 

Global Experts to Discuss WSAVA Research into Veterinary Wellness during World Congress 2019

logo-white-backgroundArtboard-1Experts from around the world will discuss the implications of research undertaken by the WSAVA’s Professional Wellness Group (PWG) into veterinary wellness in a panel session during WSAVA World Congress. The discussion, called ‘Shaping the Future:  Wellness in the Veterinary Profession’, will take place on 17 July, following a presentation of the preliminary results of a study of more than 4,000 veterinary professionals globally. They will be presented by PWG Committee Co-Chair Dr Nienke Endenburg, a human psychologist, who works at the veterinary school at the University of Utrecht, Netherlands.

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Dr Nienke Endenburg

Recognizing increased concern as to the impact on veterinary professionals of their demanding working environment, the PWG set out to assess professional wellness and the key factors which affect it globally when it launched its online survey in September 2018.  Dr Endenburg will present the findings before inviting panelists to respond and discuss their perspectives on the issue.  The panel members are:

  • Dr Marie Holowaychuk, a Canadian board-certified small animal emergency and critical care specialist and advocate for veterinary team wellbeing
  • Dr Jen Brandt, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Director of Member Wellness and Diversity Initiatives
  • Dr Derick Chibeu, Co-chair of the PWG and Honorary Secretary of the Kenya Small and Companion Animal Veterinary Association
  • Dr Vicki Lim, who works in New Zealand and is the founder the Riptide Project, an international veterinary wellbeing initiative
  • Mr Elwin van Oldenborgh, President-Elect of the International Veterinary Students’ Association.

Commenting, Dr Endenburg said: “Veterinarians care for our animal companions but the question is, who is caring for them?  As a global community we wanted to gain a clear understanding of the challenges to their well-being faced by our members around the world and to find out both what they have in common and where their experience differs.

“The results of our research provide a unique global view of this important issue and we look forward to discussing these with our expert colleagues and exploring practical solutions that respect the regional, economic and cultural differences of our membership. It will be an important first step towards bringing about positive change and enhancing the wellbeing of veterinarians globally.”

The WSAVA works to enhance the clinical care and welfare of companion animals globally, representing more than 200,000 veterinarians around the world through its 110 member associations. Its core activities include the creation of Global Guidelines which set standards for veterinary care in key areas of practice, including nutrition, pain management and welfare.

 

WSAVA World Congress takes place in Toronto from 16-19 July.  The Professional Wellness presentation and expert panel discussion takes place at 11.40 am on 17 July.

Purina Institute Announced as WSAVA’s First Diamond Partner

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The recently launched Purina Institute has become the World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s (WSAVA’s) first Diamond Partner. Its support will underpin the running of some of the WSAVA’s key clinical committees and initiatives. These include:

  • The Global Nutrition Committee (GNC), which produces research and resources to help the veterinary healthcare team and owners to understand the importance of nutrition in companion animal health
  • The Animal Wellness and Welfare Committee (AWWC), which promotes advances in companion animal wellness and welfare around the world. It will publish its Global Guidelines on Companion Animal Welfare at this year’s WSAVA World Congress
  • The Hereditary Disease Committee (HDC), which raises awareness and understanding of hereditary disease and genetic predispositions in dogs and cats
  • WSAVA One Health Committee, (OHC), which works to highlight the importance of the small companion animal-human interface on the global One Health agenda.Purina pic

The Purina Institute is also a Global Partner for WSAVA One Care, a pioneering initiative to motivate veterinary associations in countries where companion animal practice is still emerging to raise standards of care.

Serving as the global voice of Purina’s science and its more than 500 scientists and pet care experts, the Purina Institute aims to put nutrition at the forefront of pet health discussions.

The Institute will connect the most innovative minds in pet health by facilitating knowledge exchange and collaboration with veterinary and scientific thought leaders around the world. As a champion of nutrition, the Purina Institute will share the company’s latest scientific breakthroughs and will provide objective, fact-based information sourced from the wider scientific community on current trending topics across pet and human nutrition.

Commenting, Dr Jane Armstrong, External Relations Director for the Purina Institute, said: “We have supported the WSAVA for many years and, as its mission aligns closely with that of the Purina Institute, we felt it was the right time to step up and build an even stronger relationship.”

“The Committees we support align with the Purina Institute’s focus.  Purina has long been a pioneer in advancing the science of pet health, so we look forward to the opportunity to participate in global nutrition conversations through the GNC. Additionally, our research on the human-animal bond reflects our commitment to making lives richer for pets and the people who love them. This is a key driver for our interest in the AWWC.”

“We are particularly excited by One Care as it supports the development of companion animal medicine around the world.  The Purina Institute embraces its goals, especially the development of regional leadership to enable veterinary organizations to support individual practitioners.”

She added: “The WSAVA is the largest and most important global community of companion animal veterinarians. The team at the Purina Institute look forward to working closely with it on initiatives that advance the missions of both organizations.”

Dr Shane Ryan, Incoming WSAVA President, said: “The work carried out by our Committees is helping to transform companion animal medicine around the world but it would not be possible without the help we receive from our industry partners.  On behalf of all of our 200,000 members, I would like to thank the Purina Institute for its most generous support and we look forward to working with the team in the months ahead.”

Diamond Partnership is the premier level available under the WSAVA’s recently launched Partnership Program.

WSAVA Targets Welfare with Release of First Global Guidelines for Companion Animal Practitioners

AW GuidelinesThe World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) has highlighted the key role of veterinarians as advocates for animal welfare with the launch of its Animal Welfare Global Guidelines for Companion Animal Practitioners and the Veterinary Team.

The Guidelines, launched during WSAVA World Congress 2018 in Singapore, aim to bridge differing perceptions of welfare around the world and help veterinarians to tackle the ethical questions and moral issues which impact welfare. They also offer guidance to ensure that, in addition to providing physical health advice and therapy to their patients, veterinarians can advocate for their psychological, social and environmental wellbeing. The WSAVA already offers Global Guidelines in key areas of veterinary practice, including pain management, vaccination, nutrition and dentistry.

shane ryanDr Shane Ryan, incoming President of the WSAVA and former Chair of the WSAVA Animal Wellness and Welfare Committee, said: “As veterinarians, our responsibility extends far beyond the physical health of our patients. Animal welfare as a science is a new and rapidly developing discipline and veterinarians need current, evidence-based information to enable them to maintain the highest welfare standards and to provide knowledgeable, accurate advice for pet owners and communities.

“Our new Guidelines provide recommendations, checklists and other tools to promote optimal levels of welfare throughout the veterinary visit. They also offer guidance on increasing welfare beyond the doors of the clinic through outreach activities.”

He continued: “As levels of pet ownership increase in many regions of the world, including Asia, it is essential that veterinarians champion animal welfare and the WSAVA hopes that these new Guidelines will encourage our members to adopt best practice and set the highest standards.

“I would like to thank the members of the Animal Welfare Guidelines team, who worked so hard to create them and, of course, our sponsor, Waltham®, whose constant support was instrumental in enabling us to deliver them.”

The WSAVA has called on its members to develop an animal welfare charter for their members and to adopt the Guidelines into daily practice. 32 WSAVA member associations have already endorsed the Guidelines with more expected to follow shortly.  During 2018-19, the WSAVA will develop relevant continuing education (CE) and provide additional tools and translations of the Guidelines text.

The Animal Welfare Global Guidelines for Companion Animal Practitioners and the Veterinary Team are available for free download at: https://bit.ly/2D3RAoc

The WSAVA aims to advance the health and welfare of companion animals worldwide through creating an educated, committed and collaborative global community of veterinary peers.  It represents more than 200,000 veterinarians through 110 member associations.

 

WSAVA World Congress 2018 is being attended by more than 3,000 veterinarians from around the world and brings together globally respected experts to offer cutting edge thinking on all aspects of companion animal veterinary care.  WSAVA World Congress 2019 takes place in Toronto, Canada, from 16-19 July.

WSAVA Vaccination Guidelines Group Project Continues in Latin America

logo-white-backgroundArtboard-1The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) Vaccination Guidelines Group (VGG) has held a series of meetings and continuing education (CE) sessions in Mexico.  It was the final country visit in its three-year project aimed at enhancing levels of understanding of infectious diseases across Latin America and advising veterinarians on ‘best practice’ in vaccination.

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Members of the VGG at one of the small group meetings in Mexico. Left to right: Dr Richard Squires (James Cook University, Australia), Dr Cynda Crawford (University of Florida, USA), Emeritus Professor Michael Day (Chairman, UK) and Dr Mary Marcondes (São Paulo State University, Brazil).

The VGG visit to Mexico took place during August 2018 and included meetings in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey. Committee members, including VGG Chairman, Emeritus Professor Michael Day, met with veterinary association leaders, academics, first-opinion practitioners and government regulators. They also made site visits to practices in all three cities. To support veterinary education, they delivered three evening CE sessions. The CE session in Mexico City was also live-streamed and made available to registrants for 30 days after the presentation. Altogether, over 2,000 veterinarians were reached by the live or on-line programme.

 

In advance of the visit, the VGG circulated an online questionnaire to collect data on veterinary demographics, infectious disease occurrence and vaccination protocols.  The survey was completed by 552 veterinarians with the data presented during the CE events.

 

The VGG develops globally relevant recommendations for best practice in the vaccination of dogs and cats.  It has also created the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) Global Vaccination Guidelines, the latest version of which was released early in 2016.  WSAVA Global Guidelines aim to support veterinarians by setting minimum standards for care and recommending best practice in key areas of veterinary medicine.

 

The WSAVA represents more than 200,000 veterinarians worldwide through 104 member associations and is focused on enhancing the clinical care of companion animals.

 

Commenting on the visit, Emeritus Professor Day said: “The VGG was delighted with the success of this visit to Mexico; a country with an estimated 45,000 veterinarians with students graduating from approximately 45 public and private veterinary schools.”

 

“Mexican veterinarians are accustomed to the principle of annual revaccination of dogs and cats with multicomponent products, but those we spoke to were excited by the new concepts of less frequent and individualized vaccination, incorporated into a preventive healthcare package for pets. Vaccine-preventable infectious diseases such as canine distemper and parvovirus infections, remain highly prevalent in Mexico.  Increasing herd immunity by improving vaccination coverage is clearly an important goal for the Mexican veterinary community.”

 

He added: “We are pleased to acknowledge the financial and logistical support provided by MSD Animal Health for the work of the VGG and for this visit in particular. Colleagues from MSD worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that our independent scientific programme ran faultlessly in Mexico.”

 

The VGG ran a similar programme of activity in Argentina (2016) and Brazil (2017) and, during 2019, a final white paper on the findings of the Latin America project will be prepared for publication.

 

WSAVA Endorses FVE/FECAVA Position Paper on Healthy Breeding Global companion animal veterinary association warns of the health and welfare risks of extreme breeding

 

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The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) is the latest veterinary association to highlight concerns about the impact of extreme breeding in dogs by supporting a Position Paper launched in June 2018 by the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) and the Federation of European Companion Animal Veterinary Associations (FECAVA).

The FVE/FECAVA Position Paper is a response to the explosion in popularity of dog breeds with exaggerated traits or genetic disorders and, in particular, those with extreme brachycephalic conformation, such as French and English bulldogs and pugs. While these breeds are increasingly popular with owners, they can suffer severe health and welfare issues.  The Position Paper calls for health and welfare to be given priority over looks and offers detailed recommendations to address both the rising demand for these dogs and the increase in supply. They include:

Measures to reduce demand

  • Addressing demand for brachycephalic and other affected breeds through educating owners about the health issues they face
  • Working with influencers, such as media and celebrities, to encourage owners to choose a healthy, high welfare dog which is suitable for their life style.

Measures to reduce supply

  • Introducing the mandatory registration of breeders, pre-breeding screening programs and the sharing of data on conformation-altering surgeries and caesarean sections
  • Educating stakeholders and revising breeding standards and practices to put the health and welfare of dogs first.

FVE and FECAVA have also produced an infographic explaining the causes and consequences of extreme breeding and listing a number of recommendations.

“Extreme breeding is a global concern with our members seeing the results of brachycephalic conformation in practice on a regular basis. The suffering it causes is beyond dispute,” said Dr Walt Ingwersen, President of the WSAVA.

“Following detailed review by our Hereditary Disease Committee, our Animal Wellness and Welfare Committee and the WSAVA’s Executive Board, we are delighted to endorse the joint FVE/FECAVA Position Paper and congratulate both associations on highlighting the issue and setting out a clear strategy to tackle it.  It builds on momentum established by the Brachycephalic Working Group (BWG), an initiative which brings together all of the major stakeholders in dog welfare in the UK to improve the welfare of brachycephalic dogs.”

Dr Ingwersen continued: “Lasting change requires commitment and collaboration between veterinarians, breeder associations and other stakeholders on a global basis.  We are ready to play our part and look forward to working with our colleagues in the FVE and FECAVA and our member associations to deliver on the recommendations made in the Position Paper.”

Dr Wolfgang Dohne, FECAVA President, commented: “We’re delighted that the WSAVA has offered its support to the joint FVE/FECAVA Position Paper. It is important for veterinarians to speak up on this important welfare issue and together we are stronger.”

The WSAVA aims to advance the health and welfare of companion animals worldwide through creating an educated, committed and collaborative global community of veterinary peers.  It represents more than 200,000 veterinarians through 104 member associations.  Its annual World Congress brings together globally respected experts to offer cutting edge thinking on all aspects of companion animal veterinary care.

 

Notes to editors:

 

The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) is an umbrella organisation of 44 veterinary organisations from 38 European countries, representing a total of around 240 000 veterinarians. The FVE strives to promote animal health, animal welfare and public health across Europe.

The Federation of European Companion Animal Veterinary Associations (FECAVA) is the platform for the promotion of the professional development and representation of companion animal veterinarians in Europe. Founded in 1990, it currently has 40 national member associations and 13 associate member associations. FECAVA represents over 25,000 companion animal practitioners throughout Europe

Companion animal vets worldwide voice concern about new ‘pug’ film

Capture d’écran 2017-09-05 à 15.30.43Health and welfare impact of extreme breeding

Brussels, 25 June 2018 – Extreme breeding causes serious health and welfare problems: veterinarians are voicing their concern about the promotion of flat-faced dogs in films and social media, as this is likely to boost consumer demand for such dogs. Recent reactions were prompted by the announcement of the upcoming Disney film ‘Patrick’, in which a pug plays a feature role.

Pugs are a so-called brachycephalic or flat-faced dog breed, just like French and English bulldogs. Due to their extreme conformation, they are prone to many health issues,’ stressed Wolfgang Dohne, president of the Federation of European Companion Animal Veterinary Associations (FECAVA). While pets are bred this way to make them more appealing to buyers, ‘the reality is that these exaggerated features can lead to breathing difficulties, recurring skin infections, eye diseases and spinal or neurological problems, severely impacting their health and welfare.’

To raise awareness about health and welfare issues in breeding, FECAVA recently adopted a position paper[1] on healthy breeding, jointly with the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE).

Celebrities, social media and filmmakers strongly contribute to increasing the popular demand of certain breeds. Over the past few years, this has led to a real explosion in the number of brachycephalic dogs such as the French bulldog,’ confirmed Monique Megens, FECAVA representative of the joint animal welfare committee of FVE and the Union of European Veterinary Practitioners. ‘This is a worrying trend, as the exaggerated features of these dogs means that many need invasive surgery to allow them to breathe normally.’

Our profession is very concerned about this development, which not only has an impact on dog health and welfare but also on consumer protection,’ stressed Rafael Laguens, FVE president. ‘As vets, it is our role to educate our clients and to speak up and raise awareness about the consequences of exaggerated breeding. The FVE general assembly recently adopted a joint FECAVA/FVE policy paper on this topic.’

n6A-3EMf_400x400He applauded the recent initiative by the UK Brachycephalic Working Group (BWG), which had contacted Disney to try reduce the negative impact of its upcoming film.

The BWG, comprised of vets, breed clubs, welfare charities and academics, also expressed concerns that the film could lead to a surge in demand for pugs. Steps agreed by Disney and BWG include:

–     an added a welfare message to the credits section, explaining the health issues pugs face

–     leaflet distribution to journalists and the public at UK cinemas, raising awareness of leading health issues in the breed and explaining that ownership should not be undertaken lightly

–     images of pugs dressed in human clothing will not be used in marketing for the film

–     no merchandising of Patrick pug memorabilia

BWG will also support development of film industry initiatives to ensure that potential animal welfare implications are considered prior to future movies that prominently feature animals

On 26 June, FECAVA and FVE representatives will furthermore join forces with the EU Dog and Cat Alliance to raise awareness about extreme breeding in the European Parliament[2].

This is not just a European issue,’ confirmed Walt Ingwersen, president of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA), ‘Extreme breeding is a global concern. Our members see the results of extreme brachycephalic confirmation in practice on a regular basis and it is one of our top animal welfare concerns. We have therefore been in discussions with FECAVA and FVE with a view to supporting this policy paper on healthy breeding.’

logo-white-backgroundArtboard-1FECAVA, FVE and WSAVA fully support initiatives such as that of the BWG and urge filmmakers to refrain from using such animals – whether live-action, animated or online videos – as this will increase their popularity.

[1] https://www.fecava.org/files/ckfinder/files/2018_06_Extreme_breeding.pdf

[2] https://www.theparliamentmagazine.eu/event/animal-health-and-welfare-breeding-extremes-dogs-and-cats

 

Support Grows for WSAVA Campaign to Secure Global Access to Veterinary Therapeutics

Medicine bottles17757322_1357464287609589_4350987275167613409_nThe World Veterinary Association (WVA), the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) and the Federation of Companion Animal Francophone Veterinary Associations (FAFVAC) have all thrown their weight behind a campaign led by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) to secure equal access to veterinary therapeutics for veterinarians around the world.  Ten WSAVA member associations have also endorsed it.

The WSAVA’s new Therapeutics Guidelines Group (TGG), which spearheads the campaign, has also appointed its first Chair, Dr Luca Guardabassi DVM, PhD, ECVPH.  Dr Guardabassi is Professor of One Health Antimicrobial Resistance at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

In a survey of its members conducted by the WSAVA during 2016-2017, 75% of respondents confirmed that that problems in accessing veterinary medical products hampered their ability to meet the needs of their patients and 20% assessed the impact of this issue as resulting in a severe restriction on their ability to provide a high level of care.

Dr Olatunji Nasir, Medical Director and CEO of the Truthmiles Animal Hospital in south west Nigeria, one of the countries affected, explained: “We face a Herculean task in trying access everything from basic medical consumables, such as syringes and needles, right up to veterinary drugs. Registration fees are very high because they are the equivalent of what is charged for human drugs despite the fact that the volume used is much lower.  The process of registering a new drug can also take up to 36 months which feeds demand for sub-standard products which are smuggled into the country.  The procedures for importing drugs are also cumbersome and impractical.”

The WSAVA launched its campaign earlier this year to tackle these problems and is calling on all of its member associations to endorse its Position Statement on the issue and to support its campaign. It is also calling on other veterinary associations to become co-signatories of the Position Statement.

 

Commenting, Dr Luca Guardabassi said: “Difficulty in accessing therapeutics to treat patients is a critical issue for companion animal veterinarians in many parts of the world.  It causes huge frustration and means that many thousands – probably millions – of animals do not receive optimum care.  It’s a situation which requires urgent change and we are determined to bring this about.

“We’re delighted that so many veterinary associations are supporting our campaign and are now preparing for a high-level summit meeting which will be held during WSAVA World Congress in Singapore in September.  At this meeting, we will bring together stakeholders from around the world to discuss the issues and recommend practical solutions.”

The WSAVA represents more than 200,000 veterinarians worldwide through its 105 member associations and works to enhance standards of clinical care for companion animals.  Its core activities include the development of WSAVA Global Guidelines in key areas of veterinary practice and lobbying on important issues affecting companion animal care worldwide.

Note to editors:

The following veterinary associations are co-signatories of the WSAVA’s Position Statement on therapeutic access:

  • Commonwealth Veterinary Association
  • FAFVAC
  • FVE
  • Federation of Asian Veterinary Associations
  • Federation of Asian Small Animal Veterinary Associations
  • Federation of European Companion Animal Veterinary Associations
  • Federacion Iberoamericana de Asociaciones Veterinarias de Animales de Compania
  • HealthforAnimals
  • World Veterinary Association

The following WSAVA member associations have endorsed its Position Statement on therapeutic access:

  • Estonian Small Animal Veterinary Association
  • Federation of Small Animal Practitioners Association, India
  • Ghana Private Veterinary Surgeons Association
  • Hellenic Companion Animal Veterinary Society
  • Kenyan Small Companion Animal Association
  • The Netherlands Association of Companion Animal Medicine
  • North American Veterinary Congress
  • The Philippines Animal Hospital Association

The Polish Small Animal Veterinary Association

Vets must ‘dare to speak out’

WSAVA imageVets must ‘dare to speak out’

Urgent action on brachycephalic dogs called for during panel discussion at FECAVA/WSAVA/DSAVA Congress in Copenhagen

 

The rise in the popularity of so-called brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds, including pugs and French bulldogs, is linked to concerning trends for dog health and welfare, according to the Federation of European Companion Animal Veterinary Associations (FECAVA), the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) and the Danish Small Animal Veterinary Association (DSAVA/FHKS).

 

Experts from around the world discussed the issues facing these breeds and the implications for veterinarians during a panel session following a lecture stream dedicated to hereditary disease and the importance of responsible breeding on Tuesday 26 September during FECAVA-WSAVA Congress in Copenhagen. More than 200 delegates attended, including Danish TV celebrity, Sebastian KIein, well known for his interest in animal welfare issues. At the end of the session, panel members issued a number of recommendations to help veterinarians to take steps to improve the health and welfare of brachycephalic dogs (see below).

 

During discussions, panel members were questioned on strategies to help address the problem in particular countries. Panellist Helle Friis Proschowsky explained that The Nordic Kennel Union had issued recommendations and breed-specific guidelines for judges but acknowledged that the majority of brachycephalic dogs in all countries were unlikely to be registered with a kennel club. Panellist Peter Sandøe confirmed that only 15% of French bulldogs in Denmark were registered, the majority coming from unregistered breeders.  “The education of owners remains the most important priority,” commented Helle Friis Proschowsky.

 

‘Dare to speak out’

Soft tissue surgeon and panellist Laurent Findji said he had seen the explosion in the popularity of French bulldogs at first hand because of the number he was now operating on. FECAVA Vice President Wolfgang Dohne called on vets to help brachycephalic dogs but to advise owners to neuter their animals if they have conformation-altering disorders. Panellist Gudrun Ravetz, Senior Vice President of the British Veterinary Association said that, in the UK, owners and breeders now consent to having conformation-altering surgery reported: “However, while a recent BVA survey showed that 67% of vets say they see breed-related problems, few submit conformation-altering data to the Kennel Club though this would support the development of evidence-based solutions.” She added: “As veterinarians we must educate ourselves.”

 

“Vets should dare to speak out,” commented panellist Kristin Wear Prestrud. “We must educate owners on all health and welfare matters, whether we are simply advising them that their dog is overweight or if we need to give advice on breeding or refuse planned Caesarean sections.”

 

Urge advertisers to stop using images of flat-faced dogs

Toril Moseng, President of the Norwegian Veterinary Association, highlighted initiatives carried out in Norway, including an awareness-raising petition signed by 1,700 veterinarians; a press release urging advertisers not to use brachycephalic breeds in campaigns and a hand-out produced for brachycephalic breed owners, letting them know ‘what to expect.’ Similar work has been done by the British Veterinary Association explained Gudrun Ravetz. “We contacted advertisers and many apologised saying that they were simply unaware of the problems.”

 

Commenting on the session, DSAVA President Anne Sørensen said: “The fact that so many participated so actively in the discussion shows the seriousness with which veterinarians view this issue. There is no easy answer but by working together and sharing experiences and successes, we will start to change the minds of pet owners who think that these animals are cute when many of them are, in fact, born into a life of suffering. We thank all those who joined us to highlight this important issue and especially Sebastian Klein. His attendance has helped us to highlight the issue to the dog-owning public in Denmark.”

 

Education and raising awareness

FECAVA President Jerzy Gawor commented: “As veterinarians, we put the best interests of our patients first. For affected animals – including flat-faced dogs but also cats and rabbits – this may involve performing surgical procedures to correct or overcome conformational disorders, such as enlarging the nostrils, shortening the soft palate, correcting the bite or performing Caesarean sections. We are concerned that these procedures – which should be exceptional – are becoming the norm in many brachycephalic breeds.”

 

WSAVA President Walt Ingwersen added: “Our members see the results of extreme brachycephalic confirmation in practice on a regular basis and it is one of our top animal welfare concerns. The discussion panel helped to highlight the complex issues raised by the popularity of these breeds and to explore potential solutions. A reduction in the health problems faced by these breeds will be most effectively achieved through the education of veterinary professionals, breeders and owners and through leadership and consensus-building between stakeholders.”

 

Vets should ‘show leadership’

All three associations committed to develop and contribute to initiatives that aim to address the health and welfare of these animals. Panellist Professor Åke Hedhammar, member of the WSAVA Hereditary Disease Committee and scientific advisor to the Swedish Kennel Club, stressed: “We will continue to work with all stakeholders who can positively influence and improve the health and welfare of brachycephalic breeds. Extreme phenotypes should be avoided and, in the show ring, moderation of such phenotypes should be rewarded. Animals showing extremes of conformation that negatively impact their health and welfare should not be used for breeding.”

 

FECAVA past president Monique Megens, who chaired the discussion, concluded: “As advocates of and experts in animal health and welfare, veterinarians should speak up and show leadership in taking action against the breeding of dog with excessive traits leading to health and welfare problems. The great attendance at the panel discussion shows the willingness of the profession to do so. We hope that the recommendations prepared by our panellists will be adopted by veterinarians and by veterinary associations all over the world, leading to a future with healthy and happy dogs.”

 

 

 

 

Notes for Editors

 

  • The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) aims to advance the health and welfare of companion animals worldwide through creating an educated, committed and collaborative global community of veterinary peers. It currently represents more than 200,000 veterinarians through 105 member associations. Its annual World Congress brings together globally respected experts to offer cutting edge thinking on all aspects of companion animal veterinary care.

 

  • The Federation of European Companion Animal Veterinary Associations (FECAVA) is the platform for the promotion of the professional development and representation of companion animal veterinarians in Europe. Founded in 1990, it currently has 40 national member associations and 13 associate member associations. FECAVA represents over 25,000 companion animal practitioners throughout Europe.

 

  • The Danish Small Animal Veterinary Association (SvHKS) represents small animal veterinarians in Denmark and has around 1,000 members. It was the host organisation for the 2017 FECAVA/WSAVA Congress.

 

  • Members of the expert panel were:
  • Peter Sandøe (DK) – professor of ethics and welfare
  • Helle Friis Proschowsky (DK) – vet working with the Danish Kennel Club
  • Laurent Findji (FR/UK) – specialist in soft tissue surgery
  • Gudrun Ravetz (UK) – Senior Vice President, British Veterinary Association
  • Kristin Wear Prestrud (NO) – veterinary scientific director of the Norwegian Kennel Club
  • Åke Hedhammar (SE), professor em. in internal medicine (companion animals), veterinary consultant for the Swedish Kennel Club and member of the WSAVA Hereditary Disease Committee.

 

  • Media contacts:

Karin de Lange, FECAVA Press officer kdelange@invivo.edu

Rebecca George, WSAVA Press Officer Rebecca@georgepr.com

Anne Sørensen, President, DSAVA (SvHKS) anne.dsava@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

Expert recommendations: the vet’s role

 

Following the panel discussion on the health and welfare of brachycephalic dogs on 26 September, the expert panel issued a number of recommendations for veterinarians as below:

 

As advocates of, and experts in, animal health and welfare, veterinarians should speak up and show leadership in taking action against the breeding of dogs with excessive traits which can lead to health and welfare problems, such as brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS).

 

At a PRACTICE level, veterinarians should:

 

  1. Advise the public not to buy animals with extreme conformation. This applies both to breeds and to individual dogs.

 

  1. Raise awareness among dog owners and advise them about health and welfare issues in dogs with extreme conformations.

 

  1. Raise awareness among breeders, breed clubs and show judges and advise them as to health and welfare issues in dogs with extreme conformations. Take an active role in pre-breeding examinations and in giving advice regarding potential breeding stock.

 

  1. Inform dog owners and breeders about breeding restrictions if a dog is surgically treated for BOAS or other problems related to extreme traits linked to breeding. (In countries where no such restrictions exist, strongly advise against breeding.) Advise neutering at the time of surgery if good practice allows.

 

  1. Share data on health and welfare issues related to extreme breeding. Where a national submission system exists, submit details on conformation-altering surgery and caesarean sections related to extreme breeding traits.

 

 

At PROFESSIONAL ORGANISATION level, veterinarians should:

 

  1. Implement a communication campaign to proactively raise awareness among the public in general and to advise them about health and welfare issues in dogs with extreme conformations.

 

  1. Work together with national cynological organisations and other stakeholders to set up registers of confirmation-altering surgeries and caesarean sections as well as relevant screening programmes (ie pre-breeding examinations).

 

  1. Call for the revision of breed standards to help prevent BOAS and other brachycephalic-related disorders. Breed standards should include evidence-based limits on physical features (eg muzzle length) and approaches such as outcrossing should be considered.

 

  1. Launch and distribute veterinary health certificates for puppies and/or checklists for prospective buyers in support of responsible, healthy breeding.

 

  1. Develop evidence-based international standardised protocols for the examination of breeding animals regarding respiratory function and thermoregulation.

 

  1. Set up systems allowing the gathering of data from veterinary practices regarding health and welfare-related issues in dogs with extreme conformations.

 

  1. Set up undergraduate training / CPD to equip vets to take a more active role in providing breeding advice to breeders, breeder organisations and judges, related to extreme conformation and screening procedures.

 

Copenhagen, 26 September 2017.