Morgan’s VMX Recap
I recently attended the 2023 Veterinary Meeting & Expo (VMX) in Orlando, Fl. and came back with a treasure trove of science and information we can use to help improve the health and wellness of our pets.
VMX is the world’s largest and most comprehensive annual veterinary conference and expo. More than 15,000 veterinary professionals — including veterinarians, veterinary nurses, veterinary assistants, receptionists, and managers — attended to learn breakthrough advances in animal medicine.
This was my second year attending and I was once again overwhelmed with the knowledge that was shared.
Here are some of my biggest takeaways from the 2023 VMX:
Course 1: Nutritional Considerations for Animals with Neoplastic Diseases
- The purpose of this course was to learn about what an animal with cancer may require extra or less of in their every day nutrition plan. As most know, cancer can be extremely tricky so this course discussed how we might be able to improve a pet’s immunity through diet.
- On a survey that was done for clientele that had pets diagnosed with cancer:
- 100% believed in the importance of nutrition for improving a pet’s health and wellness
- 93% open to try new food
- 85% aware of importance to keep eating
- 79% anticipate need to change food
- 79% trust their veterinary team
These numbers stuck out to me. First, because it’s great to see 100% of the clientele believe in the importance nutrition has on a pet’s overall health. But it also saddens me to see only 79% trust their veterinary team when it comes to nutrition help. This makes me ask the question, “Why not?” My hunch in this is because most veterinary professionals don’t know enough about pet nutrition and their clients know that. My goal is to broaden the horizons for veterinary staff to understand nutrition knowledge can be of great benefit to all.
- Avoid Omega 3 oils that are not from a marine source. Plant-based omegas (alpha-linoleic acid) are medium chain fatty acids and are not as effective and may be transformed into long chain fatty acids in some species but not in dogs and cats!
Course 2: What to Feed Pets with Cancer
Let me start with discussing why I took two different nutritional courses pertaining to cancer. Cancer is tricky and has a lot of complexities. Hearing different perspectives on the same topic gave me a broader view of the issue as well as a chance to understand what common ground they shared when it came to nutrition and cancer. Some highlights were:
- The most common supplements recommended for cancer patients are omega 3’s, mushrooms, CBD, glucosamine, turmeric, probiotics, or a multi-mixed supplement that supports overall immune function. Each supplement helps support a cancer patient differently. Some supplements need to be used hand-in-hand with specific medications. Others may only improve the pet’s comfort levels. And others may just help support the immune system.
- Some pet diets cannot be altered due to a variety of reasons. The ability to add supplements to a pet’s existing diet, especially a cancer patient’s diet, can be critical to the patient’s health and quality of life.
Course 3: Focus on Dietary Fats
This course basically discussed the “why, what, and when” of understanding dietary fats.
The most interesting fact I learned from this course was how the percentages on the guaranteed analysis are not exactly the percentages that are in the food. There are equations that veterinary nutritionists use to figure out the actual percentage of crude fat on a dry matter basis.
Course 4: Practicing Successful Multimodal Medicine (Food, Phyto, Pharma, Physio)
This course explored multimodal medicine which is a form of medicine that combines more than one method of treatment. This speaker discussed how to manage a pet’s health while using medications, supplements, dietary changes, and internal medicine standpoints.
- If a pet is required to be on medication, use a supplement to help maintain the health of the organs that medication might affect. Ex: Long term use of Rimadyl (carprofen) can have damaging side effects to the liver. Therefore, adding milk thistle into the pet’s daily diet will help support your pet’s liver function and health.
- Coming from a strong background in veterinary medicine, this was my favorite course. I strongly believe medications may be needed to help pets, but I also believe in maintaining the health and wellness of my patients. Adding supplements and/or dietary change to their treatment plan is critical!
Course 5: Satisfying Diet Trials – Communication Tips for Investigating Food Allergies
This course addressed how to discuss food allergies with pet owners. Starting from the basics such as cytologies of ears, skin, toes, etc. and seeing what type of infection is present. Once armed with those results, veterinarians and pet owners can discuss what course of action is needed to improve the pet’s condition..
A piece of information that caught my eye in this course was: “Up to 40% of food allergic dogs develop signs <12 months of age.” I found this interesting since I was always taught a puppy could not develop a food allergy in its first year.
Course 6: Feline Lymphoma- Gut Reactions
This course talked about feline lymphoma and how often it goes undiagnosed as certain clinical signs resemble irritable bowel syndrome, upper respiratory infections, etc.
- Feline lymphoma is not like canine lymphoma. Canine lymphoma can be detected by palpating swollen lymph nodes throughout the body. Feline lymphoma is not so easily detected because it is likely found in the gastrointestinal tract, nasal passages, renal system, central nervous system, chest cavity, and limbs. Since feline lymphoma can be found in so many anatomical locations, it can often be overlooked.
- This course was extremely interesting to me. I do not know much about feline medicine other than general practice information. I took this course to broaden my knowledge in feline health.
Course 7: Logistics of Lyme Disease: Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention
This course was focused on the timeline of lyme disease, from larval and nymphs ticks through adult ticks and how lyme disease presents in patients.
- Treatment for lyme disease will always be recommended with antibiotics because lyme disease is a bacteria that can only be treated with antibiotics. However, in addition to antibiotics, the presenter recommended adding probiotics to minimize the GI upset caused by antibiotics.
- I was recently asked how to help a pet’s digestive tract recover from antibiotic use and the deciding factor was to use a probiotic. I took this course because I wanted to become more knowledgeable about lyme disease.
Course 8: Using Vet Techs to Deliver Your Nutrition Plans
This was a course for veterinarians, veterinary nurses, and veterinary practice owners on how to utilize a veterinary nurse in delivering nutritional plans to clients.
Throughout this course I learned the many aspects of how a veterinary nurse can help pet owners improve their nutritional knowledge and how they can use that information to better improve their pet’s quality of life.
Overall, attending VMX was an incredible learning opportunity. As a certified veterinary nurse, I feel the ability to merge my medical experience with nutrition counseling will be invaluable to our customers and their pets. I’m also looking forward to using this information to improve the quality of life for pets dealing with cancer. Specifically, how we can use nutrition and proper supplementation to support the animal’s immune system while undergoing such rough cancer-fighting treatments.