With the New Year around the corner, what better time to look forward and see what’s new in the care of your four legged friend in the coming year? Although many of the below trends have started a year or two ago, some treatments, medications and novel approaches to care are clearly gaining momentum. Here are a few that we feel are important. 1. Telemedicine: Although diagnosis, assessment and treatment of our pet companions still takes place primarily in the hospital environment, interim changes to treatment plans often occur in response to emailed images, phone conversations with descriptive evaluations and videos depicting a patient’s progress. There is no replacement for a “hands on” physical exam and a face to face with a pet’s family, however, personal electronic devices are playing an increasingly important role in rendering improved quality of care between visits. 2. Integrative Medicine: Previously referred to (somewhat disparagingly in some circles) as “alternative care”, Integrative Medicine is now broadly accepted as integrating techniques, medications, and new technologies into a “traditional Western medicine approach” in order to improve patient outcomes. These methods include, but are not limited to, Physical Rehabilitation, Photobiomodulation (Laser Therapy), Acupuncture, Nutritional Management, Adjunct “at home” patient care and Herbal medications. 3. Minimally Invasive Procedures: Improved access to imaging with Ultrasound, MRI’s and CT scans have significantly reduced the need for exploratory surgery. Although still occasionally performed (foreign bodies, bladder stones, knee surgeries for example), endoscopy, laparoscopy and ultrasound guided biopsies have, in many instances, replaced the need for more invasive procedures. 4. Targeted Medications: Although new drugs are constantly being released, many are merely updated versions of older medications. However, there are some pharmaceuticals, such as Monoclonal Antibodies, that are more targeted in nature. These are designed to minimize side effects and to bypass the body’s other systems in an effort to be a more efficient means of delivering the appropriate dose directly to the desired target. The above merely scratches the surface of the continual evolution of pet companion care. At the Brockton Animal Hospital, we continually look at new procedures, anesthetics, medications, equipment and even flea and tick products. We screen each one based on its merits, expense, scientific evidence and the “risk to reward” ratio meaning how likely is it to help and how likely is it to hurt. Some developments are obviously beneficial and should be initiated immediately, while others are more likely to have risk and thus benefit from a “wait and see” attitude. Rest assured of one thing; we always have your pet’s best interest foremost in our mind. Have a happy holiday season, and safe and healthy New Year.