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Putting dermatology in the limelight

The first episode of dvm360® Live!™ explores the frontiers of veterinary dermatology with light therapy for wound healing.

Sponsored by Vetoquinol

Lights. Camera. Action! Our Chief Veterinary Officer Adam Christman, DVM, MBA, pulled back the curtain on a new talk show for veterinary professionals—dvm360® Live!™. This exciting platform launched with an information-packed, fun-filled episode. Julia Miller, DVM, DACVD (and her adorable dog, Geno), joined Christman to discuss the latest technological advances in veterinary dermatology. Later, actress Linda Blair added some star power to the program, sharing her experience as the founder of a nonprofit rescue organization and touching upon her work in The Exorcist.

What’s #trending in vet med

The first episode of dvm360® Live!™kicked off with a look at the latest veterinary news, trends, and hot topics. Christman led with the results of a survey commissioned by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and Zoetis that showed the human-animal bond is strong globally, that pets have a positive impact on their owners’ health, and that stronger bonds are linked to improved veterinary care around the world.1

He then announced that a record-breaking number of veterinary school applications were submitted for the 2021-2022 school year, a positive sign for those concerned about the current shortage of veterinary workers.2 At least one hospital network in Brooklyn, New York, commented that they are seeing an uptick in staffing,3 and Christman told vet students, “If you’re tuning in, get in here; we need you. We definitely need you.”

Skin in the game

Afterward, Christman introduced the episode’s featured guest, Julia Miller, DVM, DACVD, who shared her unique path to becoming a board-certified dermatologist and the origin of her passion for the specialty.

“Dermatology is quite literally in my DNA,” said Miller, whose father is also a veterinary dermatologist. “I’m really into . . . long-term case management, . . . client communication, [and] you get to build off that. I always tell everybody [that] dermatologists are . . . like cooks and not bakers and that I don’t necessarily have a formula to follow. I do a dash of this, a dash of that, [and] put it all together. It’s different for every dog, and I really like that.”

Miller also stressed the value of general practitioners leaning on dermatologists when they have difficult dermatologic cases: “You should throw in the towel and send it to me because you know you’re busy. . . . I understand that you might have a C-section and a Parvo puppy and 3 diabetic dachshunds . . . and all sorts of other things that are happening during your day. So the fact that you’re not an expert on immunotherapy for an allergic dog [is] totally understandable. You have a lot on your plate, so I think one of the big things is to use us dermatologists and use us early. Don’t wait 5 years when the ship has already sailed. . . . Encourage your clients to understand the benefit of the dermatologist.”

Hit the lights

In the following segment, Miller dove deeper into the topic, discussing some of the technological advances she is seeing. “Insect bite hypersensitivity is really big deal with horses, and they’re coming out with a vaccine [anti-interleukin-5 (IL-5)]. There’s some really nice epidermal barrier work that’s being done . . . new topicals, sprays, and pour-ons that work great,” she said, adding that “there’s always some really cool stuff on the verge in dermatology because, you know, we’re always trying to improve what we do and I’m really excited by anything new that comes out.”

For instance, Phovia by Vetoquinol uses an LED lamp and chromophore gel to produce multiwavelength fluorescent light that can penetrate the skin to variable depths, she explained, going on to describe the product’s indications and benefits and how associates and technicians can apply it in practice.

Exhibiting the handheld device, Miller explained, “This emits an LED light. You cover the patient’s skin with a chromophore ointment, and this is what actually gets stimulated by the light. This will emit photoactive photons, and essentially what that does is it stimulates the mitochondria by increasing ATP [adenosine triphosphate], and that has a whole host of awesome [effects]. It’s anti-inflammatory; it helps with angiogenesis; it’s actually antimicrobial. So, there’s a whole lot of different things that this can do, a lot of power in this little container.”

In terms of indications, Miller said that Phovia can be used for perianal fistulas, interdigital furunculosis, deep pyoderma, and otitis externa (with an add-on tool). She also mentioned its use for postop surgical cases, saying, “I’m excited to use it for nonhealing wounds, for example. I think there’s a lot of applications in the veterinary world that this one piece of equipment can actually serve.”

One of Phovia’s most valuable features for Miller is that it is pain-free: “I’ve had some wild dogs who you just give them a hug, you pet them, you can use the light therapy [for] 2 minutes, [and] feed them a couple of treats. [It is] very, very user-friendly, and my clients have actually really been excited about it.”

Miller also explained the treatment process: “It is super easy the way we do it. [What] works out the best for my clients, because they come from a little further away, is I’ll actually do 2 light cycles at once. I do the two-minute light cycle; we wipe off the gel with some saline, reapply another layer of that gel and then do another two-minute cycle. So that’s . . . how I’ve had the best chance of success with it. You can certainly spread out the treatments and do them 2 times a week instead.” Both Christman and Miller commented that, with training, this procedure can be performed by technicians and assistants, freeing up valuable clinician time.

To the rescue

Episode 1 of dvm360® Live!™ wrapped up with an interview with Linda Blair, best known for her Oscar-nominated role as Regan MacNeil in the 1973 horror film classic The Exorcist. These days, she prefers to be known for her role as the founder of the Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation, an organization dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of abused and neglected animals.

Blair explained how she entered the rescue world: “In the nineties, one of the dogs I traveled with passed away from a double stroke . . . and then my mom died. And then a year later, my other dog died, and I was in a really bad place. . . . I started walking to shelters and saving dogs from there. Then a big [pit bull] followed me home and changed my life forever. His name was Sonny Boy. I believe, really, all the work and my commitment to rescuing is because he helped me get through [the loss of my mother].”

In 2003, she founded the Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation in California, which not only operates as a rescue facility, but also advocates for education on such important issues as pet overpopulation and dog fighting and lobbies against breed-specific bans.

References

  1. New research confirms the strong bond between people and pets is a global phenomenon, 95% worldwide say pets are family. News release. HABRI and Zoetis. January 16, 2022. [email].
  2. Another solid increase in veterinary medical school applicants for 2021. News release. American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges. October 14, 2021. Accessed May 2, 2022. https://www.aavmc.org/news/another-solid-increase-in-veterinary-medical-school-applicants-for-2021/
  3. Brooklyn Animal Hospital sees staffing, workload improvements following record-breaking applications to veterinary schools amid worker shortage. News release. Veterinary Emergency & Referral Group. February 8, 2022. [email].