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Vets Plus and University of Wisconsin-Stout Host International Conference on Animal Health Nutraceuticals

Patricia WuestVice President of Media Strategy, NAVC

Vets Plus and University of Wisconsin-Stout Host International Conference on Animal Health Nutraceuticals
“We are trying to make sure that everything we give our pets to eat and drink keeps them healthy,” Vets Plus founder and CEO Raj Lall told ICAHN 2019 attendees. “We want to ensure that these products do what they’re supposed to do.” Photo: Shutterstock.com/Farion_O

Presentations at the first-ever International Conference on Animal Health Nutraceuticals (ICAHN 2019) highlighted advancements in the rapidly growing field of  nutraceuticals and nutritional health for animals. ICAHN 2019 was hosted by Vets Plus, Inc., in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin-Stout (UW-Stout) on July 17-19 at UW-Stout’s Memorial Student Center conference facility in Menomonie, Wisconsin.

“We have been very fortunate to put together some experts in the field of nutraceuticals who are going to talk about some of the exciting developments,” noted Raj Lall, the founder and CEO of Vets Plus, in his welcome address to attendees. “In a few days, we will watch the 50-year anniversary of the 1969 landing on the moon, when Neil Armstrong said, ‘That’s one small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind.’ I’d like to believe that this conference is a small step toward educating about nutraceuticals, but as we hold it year after year, it will be an ongoing advancement of learning. There is so much to learn, so much to understand, that we hope this will be the platform for a wider audience to learn what’s happening in the field. We are trying to make sure that everything we give our pets to eat and drink keeps them healthy. Vets Plus is very lucky to be part of the community of Menominie, Wisconsin, and to be supported by University of Wisconsin-Stout, in collaborating on this type of research.”

Dr. Ajay Srivastava, Vets Plus’ Chief Scientific Officer, noted that “this is the first time a group of leading nutraceutical scientists has appeared together in this kind of dedicated forum. We are proud of the caliber of the scientific presenters at ICAHN. Some of the brightest minds in the nutritional science category provided public access to their work.”

Pot for Pets?

Dr. Gary Richter, MS, DVM, and owner of Holistic Veterinary Care in Oakland, Calif., led a lively discussion on endocannabinoid and phytocannabinoid systems, the potential health benefits of cannabis, and the current legal landscape affecting their use in animal health. “Cannabis is coming, but most of the veterinary profession is completely uneducated on the topic,” Dr. Richter told attendees. “If I could snap my fingers and make all of this legal, and veterinarians were able to discuss cannabis with clients, the average veterinarian would know nothing about this. There’s got to be a huge push toward continuing education and educating veterinarians.” Dr. Richter has been one of the supporters of California’s SB 627 legislation, which would allow veterinarians to discuss cannabis with their clients.

“Veterinarians should be the ones giving people guidance on medical cannabis for their pets, not people with zero medical training like the guy working at a pet store or behind the counter at a recreational cannabis dispensary,” Dr. Richter told attendees, many of whom were veterinarians.

Nutraceuticals as Alternatives to Antibiotics

In another presentation, Dr. Steve Lerner, VP North American Sales and Marketing for the Animal Health and Nutrition division of Chr. Hansen, explained the technical activities of probiotics in supporting normal gut function and their impact on increased nutrient absorption and enhanced resistance to disease. “The industry is seeking alternatives to antibiotics,” Dr. Lerner said. “The spread of antibiotic resistance is a growing global threat and has prompted consumers to undergo a fundamental shift in their food preferences. Major food retailers have had to adapt in changing sourcing practices. This movement has forced increased scrutiny on how food animals are being raised and fed. Probiotics are viewed as playing a crucial role as an alternative. It has become as real as rain.”

ICAHN also featured Dr. Gerald Buchoff, BVScAH, Holistic Pet Care in Little Falls, NJ, who cited increasing concerns about overuse and misuse of antibiotics and described recent developments in the use of transferrins as immune system modulators for their anti-inflammatory and antiviral benefits.

Dr. Margaret Dohnalek, PhD., chief scientific officer and senior vice president of research and innovation of Valensa International, presented on inflammation and immunity impact animal quality of life as they age. “Nutraceuticals can play a role in healthy aging of animals,” she noted. “And formulation solutions may have an advantage over a single component.”

The role of nutraceuticals in helping animals suffering from osteoarthritis was addressed by Dr. Ramesh Gupta, DVM, MVSc, PhD, DABT, FACN, FACT, FATS, Murray State University. Dr. Gupta emphasized that managing the disease with nutraceuticals has benefits over traditional treatment. “OA is a serious problem,” he told attendees. “Nutraceuticals can be useful but there are also some adverse effects that we should be aware of.”

The conference program was approved for 5 hours of RACE-approved CE; Vets Plus also launched Nutraceuticals in Veterinary Medicine, a comprehensive collection of scientific articles on the therapeutic use of nutritional compounds in animals.

“The ICAHN conference is part of an ongoing effort by UW-Stout to communicate with professionals in the field about the science and application of nutraceutical compounds and recent developments in nutritional science,” said Bob Meyer, Chancellor of UW-Stout. “Research on nutraceutical compounds is an ongoing effort at UW-Stout, due in large part to the influence and investment that Vets Plus owners, Raj and Swati Lall.”

“I am very proud to have Vets Plus be a part of this,” said Lall. “We are a 30-year-old research-based manufacturing company. Today, we employ over 200 team members. We are very driven by science and research. We want to not only be a company that manufactures these products. but we want to also be a company that shows the efficacy of these products to consumers. We are all consumers. We want to ensure that these products do what they’re supposed to do.”

About Vets Plus

Vets Plus is a manufacturer of health and nutrition products for livestock and companion animals. The company operates throughout North America and internationally. “Our plans call for aggressive growth among all of our businesses, whether we are a contractor for a partner or the originator of a novel animal health product,” said Vets Plus President David Nelson. “Our success to date has been the result of our deep scientific bench and unique technologies coupled with our cGMP manufacturing capacity and capabilities. There is a whole new level of growth available to us through channel optimization and marketing.”

Learn More

Read: Developing a Nutrition Program in Your Practice.