BSAVA Scientific Newsletter

March 2024

Welcome to the latest scientific newsletter!

Have a browse through summaries of recently published papers on a variety of topics, scientific news including the recent launch of Senvelgo for the treatment of feline diabetes, a selection of clinical research projects which require responses, and details of upcoming events.

Do you have some research findings you’d like to promote, or a suggestion for content or features for future newsletters? Please get in touch at [email protected]

Research paper spotlight

Hypothermia, anemia, hyperglycemia, and severe hypoglycemia are significant prognostic indicators of death in client-owned ferrets (Mustela putorius furo)

Read the blog

Despite the value of identifying prognostic indicators in medical decision-making, there have been no published studies evaluating prognostic indicators of death in ferrets. This study has explored whether rectal temperature, Hct or blood glucose are associated with an increased risk of mortality in ferrets.

Stratton HS et al. (2024) American Journal of Veterinary Research. https://doi.org/10.2460/ajvr.23.10.0244

Journal Watch

A snapshot of the latest papers in small animal veterinary medicine.

1) Cardiovascular disease in central bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps): 54 cases (2007–2022)

Ozawa SM et al. American Journal of Veterinary Research.

This retrospective study describes the clinical features, histopathologic lesions, and outcome of cardiovascular disease in 54 central bearded dragons from 6 hospitals. The total prevalence of cardiovascular disease was 3.3%, and few clinical signs were consistently seen. Mentation was the most common finding, followed by dehydration, palpable coelomic mass, dyspnea, and sunken eyes. Doppler auscultation revealed an arrhythmia in 14.7% of animals. The most common cardiovascular diagnoses was myocarditis, followed by aneurysms, pericardial effusion, atherosclerosis, epicarditis, and myocardial degeneration/necrosis. Cardiovascular disease was the most common cause of death. This study suggests that cardiovascular disease should be considered a differential in ill bearded dragons with nonspecific clinical signs. Diagnostic imaging is recommended in these cases with an echocardiogram ideally performed following a diagnosis of cardiomegaly or effusion. Aneurysms most often contributed to clinical demise, hence prognosis may be guarded with this diagnosis.

2) Risk factors for tick attachment in companion animals in Great Britain: a spatiotemporal analysis covering 2014–2021

Pelligra T et al. Parasites and Vectors.

This study assessed the factors affecting tick attachment in an individual and at a spatiotemporal level using data from >7 million electronic health records (EHRs) from cats and dogs collected by the Small Animal Veterinary Surveillance Network (SAVSNET). Tick attachment was more likely to be observed in animals 2 to 6 years of age, with those < 1 and > 10 the least likely to be observed with ticks. In cats, males and entire animals had significantly increased odds of tick attachment, whereas in dogs, neither sex nor neuter status was a significant predictor. In both cats and dogs, the risk was higher in crossbreed and unclassified breeds, and in animals with long and medium/semi-long coat length. Grassland and woodland areas, with moderate to high rainfall and monthly temperatures between 5∘C and 10∘C, were predicted as highly suitable for tick attachment. These results can inform targeted health messages and more tailored prophylaxis for higher risk animals.

3) Longevity of companion dog breeds: those at risk from early death

McMillan KM et al. Scientific Reports.

This study used a dataset of 584,734 UK dogs to determine variation in longevity estimates within parental lineage, breed, body size, sex and cephalic index. Averaging across all individuals, median survival was estimated at 12.5 years, varying from 12.7 years for pure breeds to 12.0 years for crossbreds. The breeds most at risk from early death included Caucasian Shepherd Dog, Presa, Cane Corso, Mastiff, St Bernard, Bloodhound, Affenpinscher, Neapolitan Mastiff, Bulldog and French Bulldog. Those least at risk from early death included Lancashire Heeler, Tibetan Spaniel, Shiba Inu, Papillon, Lakeland Terrier, Schipperke, Border Terrier, Italian Greyhound and Miniature Dachshund. Median survival for mesocephalic purebreds was 12.8 years, with an accelerated time to death for brachycephalic and dolichocephalic purebreds at 11.2 years and 12.1 years, respectively. Breed specific survival estimates are informative to veterinarians, researchers, and current and prospective owners.

4) Investigation of In Vitro blood compatibility of the domestic ferret (Mustela putorious furo) with feline and canine blood

Tan T et al. Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine.

The in vitro compatibility of ferrets with feline or canine blood through investigation of crossmatch compatibility was determined in this study. Ten transfusion-naive ferrets, five cats and five dogs were enrolled. All ferrets had naturally occurring alloantibodies against all feline red blood cell (RBC) tested. Blood compatibility to canine RBC was variable: while most ferrets were compatible to all dogs, two had alloantibodies against all canine RBC, and one was incompatible to one dog. Except for one crossmatch between one dog and one ferret, all minor crossmatches were positive, demonstrating the presence of alloantibodies in cats and dogs against ferret RBC. Xenotransfusion of ferret with feline or canine blood products is not recommended as a routine procedure, and ferret blood should be the first choice when considering transfusion in ferrets. If not possible, xenotransfusion with crossmatched-compatible canine packed RBC (as opposed to whole blood) can be considered.

Would you like more updates on the latest research in veterinary medicine?

Don’t miss the Scientific Shorts feature in our bi-weekly newsletters, which brings you bitesize snippets from new papers on a variety of topics in veterinary medicine and science.

Other News/Resources

New Client Information Leaflets on reptiles

A series of new Client Information Leaflets on reptiles, including bearded dragon, leopard gecko and iguana, has just been published. These are intended to help owners understand the care requirements for these species, including housing, nutrition, handling, routine and veterinary care. The leaflets are free to BSAVA memebers and can be accessed in the BSAVA Library.

Breakthrough veterinary drug Senvelgo (Velagliflozin) launched for the treatment of Feline Diabetes Mellitus

The recent launch of Senvelgo (Velagliflozin), a sodium-glucose co-transporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitor with a once daily oral solution, is expected to revolutionise the treatment of Feline Diabetes Mellitus in the UK. Find out moreabout how Senvelgo works and the impact it can have on diabetic cats and their owners in this article by Laura Bree from London Vet Specialists.

BSAVA PetSavers update

PetSavers grants available

If you’re interested in carrying out your own clinical research, the PetSavers’ Clinical Research Project grant call is now open!

These grants offer up to £20,000 to cover a project lasting 1-3 years for research into any disease area in companion animals, but we are also offering a specific grant of up to £20,000 to investigate disease that Bull Terriers are susceptible to. This is made possible by a very generous legacy left to us by Terry Heath.

For more information and to apply.

PetSavers funding awarded

Funding has been awarded to a PhD studentship being undertaken at the RVC under the supervision of Dr Elisavet Vasilopoulou investigating the role of thymosin beta (TB)10 in feline chronic kidney disease. TB10 levels are elevated with kidney disease progression in cats, but its role in kidney physiology and chronic kidney disease is currently unknown. This studentship aims to improve understanding of the factors modifying the progression of kidney disease in cats, and identify novel biomarkers to recognise cats that are likely to develop advanced kidney disease and new areas for therapeutic intervention to slow disease progression.

Funding was also awarded to a Master’s degree by research at the University of Cambridge, supervised by Dr Lisa Alves, which aims to identify the causal genetic variant of spongiform leukoencephalomyelopathy (SLEM) in Border Terriers, and to understand how and why this variant is pathogenic. This will improve understanding of the aetiology and pathophysiology of SLEM, and enable a validated genetic test to be offered to breeders.

An undergraduate project also received funding to explore the dog microbiome for therapeutic potential in the treatment of canine bacterial pyoderma. This work, led by Dr Vanessa Schmidt, will be carried out at the University of Liverpool.

Find out more about PetSavers-funded projects.

PetSavers research needs your help!

Calling UK vets, can you help with case recruitment for a PetSavers-funded study at The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies’ Hospital for Small Animals?

Dogs with chronic enteropathy or inflammatory bowel disease not responding to an elimination diet or food trial are needed for a study assessing the effect of D-mannose on clinical outcome and microbiota composition.

Please contact Professor Silke Salavati via [email protected] with case details.

BSAVA Research Notice Board: clinical research needs you!

notice board with pins

We currently have several clinical research projects from BSAVA members on our Research Notice Board which require responses. Please have a browse and see if there are any surveys that you are able to contribute to, to help further clinical research on companion animals.

Current research projects listed that require responses:

  • Clinical management of feline chronic kidney disease in the UK
  • Prevalence of intestinal nematodes in UK dogs and cats
  • An investigation into the confidence of veterinary nurses with ECG interpretation
  • The use of systemic antibiotics for prophylaxis in veterinary ophthalmic surgery
  • An investigation into the awareness and understanding of toxins in small animals
  • Prospective trial of different antimicrobial treatment durations for presumptive canine urinary tract infections (the STOP on SUNDAY trial)

Take a look at how you can contribute to these projects and how we can help you to promote your own research here.

Upcoming Events

Association of Veterinary Anaesthetists

The AVA Spring Meeting 2024: 1st – 3rd May 2024 in Baden, Switzerland.

AVA’s 60th Anniversary Meeting: 18th – 20th September 2024, London. This will include a pre-congress day, a nurses' training day, as well as a 2-day scientific meeting.

Association of Veterinary Soft Tissue Surgeons

The AVSTS Autumn meeting: 4th – 5th October 2024, Cambridge. Venue and theme to be confirmed over the coming weeks.

British Association of Veterinary Ophthalmologists

BrAVO’s annual CPD conference: 8th – 10th November 2024, Stratford-Upon-Avon, with the topic ‘Purr-spectives in Feline Ophthalmology’.

British Veterinary Dental Association

2-3rd August: BVDA Practical course 'Introduction to Composites' with Alix Freeman. This course will provide knowledge and copious opportunity for practice with the use of composites for non-invasive jaw fracture treatment (wire and composite/acrylic splints) and for specific malocclusions (inclined plane and temporary crown extensions). More information and booking options to follow soon.

British Veterinary Orthopaedic Association

BVOA's Autumn Meeting: 21st – 23rd November 2024 in Warwick, focusing on Joint Trauma.

British Veterinary Zoological Society

The BVZS Summer Gathering: 6th July 2024 at the Bristol Zoo Project and will welcome veterinary students and newly graduated vets to enjoy a day of lectures. Keep an eye on BVZS social media for more information.

The BVZS Annual Conference: 22nd – 24th November 2024 at Conference Aston. Abstracts will be launched in April and tickets will be available from July.

European Association of Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging

EVDI's Annual Meeting:18th – 21st September 2024 in Athens, Greece.

Small Animal Medicine Society

A Veterinary Nurse CPD Event: 15th May 2024 via Zoom.


The 49th World Small Animal Veterinary Association Congress: 3rd – 5th September 2024 in Suzhou, China.

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