Global veterinary conference on pets taking place in Dublin

This week, from Wednesday 20th to Sunday 24th August, the largest veterinary conference ever to be held in Ireland is taking place at the Royal Dublin Society showgrounds in Dublin.

This gathering of vets is the annual meeting of members of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) and the Federation of European Companion Animal Veterinary Associations. (FECAVA). The event is the 33rd WSAVA and 14th FECAVA Congress, and will host 2568 people coming from 86 countries around the world ranging from Albania to Vietnam.

Ireland is the smallest country to have hosted this combined annual congress, with previous locations including Sydney, Bangkok, Vancouver, Amsterdam and London. The choice of Ireland as a host country is a positive reflection on the internationally recognised high standards of the Irish veterinary profession.

The event will be a combination of two types of meetings:

  1. Political meetings where issues affecting pets around the world are discussed by representatives of 86 countries
  2. Educational meetings with lectures offering attending vets “state-of-the-art” updates on a wide range of pet illnesses and issues

Political meetings.

  • Meeting of representatives from 71 veterinary associations around the world ( WSAVA Assembly) on Wednesday Aug 19th
  • Meeting of representatives from 40 veterinary associations in Europe ( FECAVA Council ) on Saturday Aug 23rd – The current President of FECAVA is Andrew Byrne, an Irish vet, based in Bray Co. Wicklow

Topics of global significance to pets and their owners will be discussed by these worldwide gatherings of vets, including:

  • Animal Welfare – How can animal suffering be alleviated across the world?
  • Hereditary Disease – The science of genetics now allows much deeper analysis of the background to many of the inherited illnesses that are common in pets (examples include arthritis, skin disease and blindness). How can vets best work together internationally to gain the most benefit from the latest scientific discoveries?
  • Vaccine Guidelines – Vaccines available for pets have improved significantly, allowing effective control of a wide range of illnesses, from Parvovirus to Rabies. What is the most effective way to use these vaccines
  • Continuing Education in less advantaged regions – Pets have a high status in wealthy areas such as the USA and Europe, but in many countries, vets struggle to treat pets with limited facilities and educational resources. What can be done to help improve this situation?

Educational meetings.

Over seventy acknowledged experts in their fields will be giving lectures on a wide range of topics, from Wednesday through to Sunday. There will be over sixty lectures every day, covering a wide range of topics aimed at bringing the latest findings of science and research to the attention of vets working with pets.

This is an opportunity for vets around the world to come together and hear the up-to-date word on the best possible way to diagnose and treat ailments of pets. The full lecture programme is available at, but some of the highlights are listed below, and news desks will be given a 3pm update of the following day’s planned events from Tuesday onwards.

Wednesday Aug 19th
Pre Congress lectures on Emergency Medicine and on Feline Medicine for specialists in their fields

Thursday Aug 20th
70 lectures including:

  • Animal Welfare: Biting Dogs a 21st Century dilemma. Why do some dogs bite people and others don’t? What can be done to prevent dogs from biting, and what controls should society place on dogs?
  • Cancer : Advances in Cancer Diagnosis. From MRI scans to molecular genetics, cancer diagnosis in pets has many parallels with human medicine. What is the latest and best way of identifying cancer in the earliest stages?
  • Milk Shakes and Green Lipid Mussels ….Alternatives to Opiiods. Pain control in veterinary medicine has come a long way in the past twenty years, with much better systems now available for recognising and controlling pain, both after surgery and during illness. The obvious pain control methods such as opioid drugs are well known, but what about some of the newer, less recognised alternatives?
  • Management : Business Training Is it Important The main aim of vets is to offer medical and surgical treatment to animals in an efficient way, but this involves much more than just the one-to-one interactions in a consulting room and an operating theatre. A team of employees is involved in providing the service, and it is increasingly recognised that lessons in management can be learned from other businesses. Patricia Callanan from the Small Firms Association (SFA) will be giving vets tips on improving customer service and optimising workplace efficiency.

Opening Ceremony :

There will be a formal Congress Opening Ceremony at the RDS on Thursday evening. The “stars of the show” will be a selection of the globally popular Irish Native Breeds of Dog, including

  • Irish Setter
  • Irish Red and White Setter
  • Irish Wolfhound
  • Irish Water Spaniel
  • Irish Terrier
  • Irish Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
  • Kerry Beagle
  • Kerry Blue Terrier
  • Glen of Imaal Terrier

Individuals of each of these breeds will be on the stage, creating an eye-catching and uniquely Irish spectacle.

Friday Aug 21st
Lectures all day including

  • Symposium on Suicide in the Veterinary Profession with open discussion afterwards. There is a global problem with suicide in the veterinary profession, with international studies showing that the rate is over four times that of the general public, higher than any other occupation including doctors, farmers and dentists. Much research has been carried out into the reasons for this, and there are many new ideas about ways that this can be addressed.
  • Cataract Surgery for Dogs. Cataracts are one of the main causes of blindness in pets, and in the past this was untreatable. A range of treatment options are now available, and this session will outline the latest possibilities available to vets in practice.

Sat Aug 22
Lectures all day including

  • Significance of Cat predation on wildlife. Many people are concerned about the dwindling populations of wild birds. There are many factors, including climate change and damage to local habitats, but pet cats are known to be significant predators. How much of an effect does this have on population levels, and what should be done? Should cats be confined to indoors (as they often are in the USA and Australia) or is it right to allow them to be free ranging creatures?
  • Wild life and the GP Vet. Vets are trained to treat dogs, cats and other commonly kept pets, but they are seen by the public as general “animal experts”. What should vets do when presented with unfamiliar wild animals? From badgers with broken legs, to hedgehogs with headaches, what is the best approach?
  • Whole day for Vet Nurses. Every vet in practice is supported by up to four veterinary nurses. What is the role of a vet nurse? How much should they be allowed to do? What is the best way of utilising the animal-caring skills of veterinary nurses?

Sun Aug 23
Lectures all day including

  • Old Cats ….Cognitive Dysfunction. With the higher standard of veterinary care that is now available, cats are living for longer than ever, with many carrying on to their late teens or early twenties. New problems are being recognised in this aging population, including so-called Cognitive Dysfunction, the feline version of Alzeimers Disease in humans. How can this be recognised, and can it be treated?
  • Home Care – End of Life Issues. Most pet owners will experience the trauma of the death of a pet, but how should this best be handled? Is a “home-hospice” possible and practical? When does sentimentality risk imposing accidental cruelty? When is the best time to let a pet go?
  • MRSA Current status and the future. The threat of MRSA has increased in the veterinary world, paralleling the situation in human hospitals. Can the problem be passed on to humans from pets? Should vets and pets be screened for MSRA? What is the most effective way of protecting human and pet health from this significant problem?
  • Snakes and other reptiles. The popularity of exotic pets is increasing, but lack of familiarity with some of these rare creatures can make treatment a challenge. A hands-on session with a range of reptiles should lead to some interesting discussions. (“Which end is his head?”)

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