Companion Animal Fund Grant Program Supports 18 New Studies

Thanks to the Companion Animal Fund Grant Program, faculty at the UW School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) will pursue 18 new research projects — seven more than in 2020 — aimed at improving animal health care. Over $197,000 in grants were distributed in 2021.

Researchers will explore a variety of subjects, including canine vision testing techniques, dosing protocols for extended-release antibiotics, genetic analysis for equine degenerative ligament disease, canine cancer drug resistance, and alternatives to surgical treatment.

Carrie Schroeder, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Surgical Sciences, was awarded her first Companion Animal Fund grant to study how best to manage pain using a specific type of analgesic block in canine abdominal surgery.

Carrie Schroeder, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Surgical Sciences

The abdominal area has several planes of fascia, or bands of connective tissue under the skin and between layers of muscle. Schroeder is investigating fascial plane blocks, a regional anesthesia delivered through an injection to block pain to multiple nerves. This method allows for a larger area of pain relief than peripheral nerve blocks, which target individual nerves.

Schroeder will study two types of fascial blocks: the transversus abdominis plane for the front and side of the abdominal wall, and the rectus sheath block along the midline of the abdomen. The goal is to map the areas of coverage by evaluating the spread of the anesthesia in both planes.

This research is highly translational. To date, veterinarians do not have a reliable map of canine abdominal fascial planes to inform pre- and post-surgical anesthesia strategies. Study results could provide a resource for veterinarians to better administer analgesia to dogs undergoing abdominal surgery.

“If patients have more effective regional anesthesia, they will be more comfortable immediately following surgery, thereby reducing the number of opioids prescribed for post-surgical pain relief — another added benefit,” Schroeder notes.

“These grants have a real impact, often resulting in new and novel treatments — not only at our hospital but across the field of veterinary medicine.”

She is hopeful the study results will encourage the use of fascial plane blocks by veterinarians in a range of settings. “With the right equipment and training, these blocks are easy to perform,” she says. “I’d love to see more widespread adoption of this pain management technique — not just in specialty clinics, but in private practices too.”

The Companion Animal Fund is made possible by donations from veterinary medical clinics with strong ties to the school and individual donors. Donations to the Companion Animal Fund, Feline Health Fund, Equine Health Fund, and other gifts support the Companion Animal Fund Grant Program.

Through an annual competitive process, the school awards funds to faculty to further research that will enhance the care of companion animals. In addition, funds support facility and equipment improvements to provide enhanced diagnostics and treatments at UW Veterinary Care.

“These grants have a real impact, often resulting in new and novel treatments — not only at our hospital but across the field of veterinary medicine,” says Kristi Thorson, associate dean for advancement and administration. View 2021 study descriptions and investigators.

Denise Garlow

2021 Companion Animal Fund Principal Investigators and Areas of Study

Department of Surgical Sciences

Ellison Bentley
Clinical Professor of Comparative Ophthalmology
Alternative analgesia in canine enucleation

Grayson Doss 
Clinical Assistant Professor of Zoological Medicine
Evaluation of analgesic efficacy and safety

Barry Hartup 
Clinical Instructor of Zoological Medicine
Dosing protocols for extended release antibiotics

Samantha Loeber 
Clinical Assistant Professor of Diagnostic Imaging
Pilot studying the utility of PET-MRI as diagnostic tool  

Jane Lund 
Clinical Assistant Professor of Diagnostic Imaging
Evaluation of standing CT for equine venography 

Christoph Mans 
Clinical Associate Professor of Zoological Medicine
Safety and efficacy of appetite stimulant in chinchillas

Freya Mowat 
Assistant Professor of Diagnostic Imaging
Develop and validate vision testing in pet dogs 

Peter Muir 
Professor of Small Animal Orthopedic Surgery
Genome wide signature selection for DSLD

Susannah Sample 
Assistant Professor of Small Animal Surgery
Assembly of reference genome to investigate osteosarcoma

Carrie Schroeder 
Clinical Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology
Evaluation of fascial plane blocks

Nate Van Asselt 
Clinical Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology
Pilot study of ASAC using stereotactic radiotherapy

Department of Medical Sciences

Alexandra Burton
Clinical Assistant Professor of Large Animal Medicine
Pharmacokinetics of gentamicin in horses

Erin Lashnits 
Clinical Assistant Professor of Small Animal Medicine
Geographic study of flea-borne pathogens

Xuan Pan 
Associate Professor of Oncology
Treatment resistance in canine lymphoma

Lauren Trepanier 
Professor, Assistant Dean for Clinical and Translational Research
Mutagenicity of environmental chemicals in pet urine

Katrina Viviano 
Clinical Assistant Professor of Small Animal Medicine
Use of clinical biomarker to identify pyelonephritis

Michael Wood 
Assistant Professor of Small Animal Medicine
Pharmacodynamic properties of calcimimetic agent in healthy dogs

Department of Pathobiological Sciences

Matt Reynolds 
Assistant Professor
Modernizing canine histocompatibility genotyping

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