Residents — those who undergo advanced training in a particular area — are the next generation of veterinary specialists who will care for the health of our pets. To be equipped for this important responsibility, residents engage in research to learn how to better identify, diagnose, treat and prevent animal diseases and conditions.
That’s where the Center for Companion Animal Health (CCAH) comes in. The CCAH supports studies benefitting dogs, cats and small exotic pets through its competitive Residents Grants Program. CCAH has awarded more than 50 grants for residents since 2010, which includes 13 grants in 2014-15 totaling almost $50,000. This is supported by gifts from donors, our companion animal memorial fund and a recently established resident grant endowment. Below are a few examples of the type of research we fund:
Nutrition Support Service resident Aarti Kathrani is using a $4,000 CCAH grant to study feline hydrolyzed diets, which are foods with a protein source broken down into multiple, small pieces intended to sneak through the animal’s system undetected. “This method has been used extensively in human infant formula to decrease food allergy reactions,” Kathrani explains. In companion animals, hydrolyzed diets are used to diagnose or treat suspected cases of food allergy. Theoretically, these protein pieces are too small to be recognized by the immune system and will therefore produce no allergic reaction. But signs of skin and gastrointestinal disease sometimes persist despite using these diets. Kathrani is evaluating the three hydrolyzed dry foods currently available as commercial prescription diets to determine effects on cats’ immune systems
Resident Peter Strom is using his $4,000 grant to conduct a comparative investigation of cone-beam CT (CBCT) and dental radiographs in cats. He and his co-investigators hypothesize that the diagnostic yield of one-beam CT is superior to the conventional procedure of dental radiography to identify both anatomical structures and dental disease. CBCT is an imaging technique that provides a virtual threedimensional computerized reconstruction of the object. Special computer software allows researchers to manipulate the images for better visualization. CBCT has been used in human medicine for about a decade, and is ideally suited for teeth, jaws and temporomandibular joint diagnostic scanning. Regular dental radiographic images can be difficult to interpret due to overlapping teeth and problematic skull structures, especially in smaller animals like cats.
Resident Sara Gardhouse received $4,000 to study the effectiveness and safety of the ceftiofur crystalline-free acid antibiotic in New Zealand white rabbit. Rabbits are one of the most common small mammals presented to veterinary clinics, shelters and wildlife centers. As such, they need to be evaluated in regards to different antibiotics. Due to the rabbit’s unique and sensitive gastrointestinal system, many oral antibiotics commonly administered in other species cannot be used safely in this animal. Gardhouse and her colleagues are collecting blood samples from New Zealand white rabbits that have been administered this antibiotic, and measuring the antibiotic present in their blood to determine whether the doses are safe and the concentrations effective at killing bacteria. “This will result in improved health of sick rabbits, decreased stress and pain from repeated handling and injections, and improved the well-being of these animals,” according to Gardhouse.