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Saturday Sessions


November 2, 2019 (Saskatoon Inn)


8:00 - 8:30 am 

Welcome and Kick Off (Ballroom B)

RVT Stands for:  Real

                             Valuable

                         PaTh

Shannon Gervais, RVT, Director of Recruiting Operations & Technologist Development – VCA Canada

Join Shannon as she shares the good, the bad and that pugly ;) of her personal journey as an RVT over the past 20 years.  It's not always a cake walk....but she still wouldn't have chosen any other career.

Shannon Gervais, RVT has been a Registered Veterinary Technologist with the OAVT for the past 19 years. Shannon has gained a wide variety of experience throughout her career spanning everything from clinical experience in companion animal medicine to pharmaceutical sales in bovine medicine. Shannon’s genuine passion for people and animals has directed her path along managerial roles and into her current national role as VCA Canada, Director of Recruiting Operations and Technologist Training & Development. Shannon lives in Okotoks, Alberta with her husband Duane and their two children Kamryn and Ryland. Their family is completed with 10 horses, purebred Black Angus cattle, their 2 dogs; Duke & Louie and Munchie the kitty.


8:40 - 9:35 am    

Dermatology in a nutshell... well, in 4 quick lectures…

Reviewing the Basics of Skin Structure and Function 

Jennie Tait, AHT, RVT, VTS (Dermatology)

A full day of dermatology! And what better place to start than the basics? This introduction to skin structure and function will allow attendees to gain a better understanding of how the skin works and therefore a better understanding of the dermatologic conditions they see in practice. We will review the different layers and their components, as well as how they play a role in our patients' health. You will learn how things work in the body's largest organ, and where things can go terribly wrong. Even if you're not a derm enthusiast, this short course will make you more comfortable when working with your dermatology cases.

A Practitioner’s Guide to Veterinary Cannabis in Canada

Dr. Ian Sandler, DVM

Cannabis is a hot topic in the veterinary medical industry, though one with many misperceptions and outdated information. Dr. Ian Sandler will take RVTs through the science, including correct definitions for cannabis; use of accurate terminology; what is currently known about its pharmacokinetics; and differences in labelling of products. He will also review and expand on how cannabis toxicity is treated. RVTs play a pivotal role in steering clients away from unreliable sources of ‘information’ – many clients may be unaware that cannabis is not currently approved for use in veterinary medicine. Knowledge of the current legal landscape in Canada, as well as gaps in governance, will be essential to engage them in productive conversation. Dr. Ian Sandler will provide the tools to guide clients towards working with the veterinary team to treat pain and anxiety, rather than self-diagnosing and using pet store products.

Feeding Cats and Dogs Young and Old (Life-stage Nutrition)

Tammy J Owens, DVM, MS, DACVN

Life-stage nutrition: what does it all mean? In this presentation we will review the key nutritional differences and needs that vary between life stages (neonatal to adult) and even between variations within the same life stage (small breed puppy vs. large breed puppy) and how that informs our nutritional recommendations. We may even address some of the common misconceptions or “mistakes” that can often occur with recommendations for growing animals and how to avoid changes that could negatively impact long-term health. As time allows, we will also touch on concerns with feeding senior pets and how to approach this as our pets and patients move through different life stages. Within that context, we will review some dietary information, including the meaning of nutritional adequacy statements and how that information can help guide us in our nutritional recommendations, as well as recognizing its inherent limitations.

CWD Voluntary Herd Certification Program National Standards

Dr. Allison Danyluk Ross, DVM

The first objective of this session will be a brief overview of CWD and its history in Canada. There will then be an overview of the new voluntary herd certification program and the roles and responisibilities of the accredited veterinarian. Technicians will be able to perform or assist in some of these roles. A review of the biosecurity assessment needed for producers to enrol in this program will be covered as this is an area where technicians could greatly assist the accredited vet.  Lastly, there will be discussion and review of how producers enrol in the program, and how the veterinarian becomes accredited for this activity.

Activating the Entire Veterinary Team to Achieve Optimal Veterinary Outcomes (Part 1)

How to maximize the effectiveness of a veterinary-practice team in order to achieve optimal veterinary outcomes. 

Jason B. Coe, DVM, PhD

To truly maximize the outcomes of veterinary care, the focus of a veterinary practice must extend beyond the one-on-one interaction between veterinary staff and a client to include the role and influence of communication among all levels of the veterinary healthcare team.  Within the human healthcare field, it has been shown that frequent, timely, accurate communication, as well as shared goals, and mutual respect among the healthcare team can lead to a number of positive patient outcomes including reduced post-operative pain, improved post-operative functioning and decreased length of hospital stay.  This interactive session will discuss a number of challenges that can affect the function of a veterinary team as well as explore ways to maximize a team’s effectiveness in order to achieve optimal veterinary outcomes.  

By the end of this presentation participants should be:

1.  More aware of the role the entire veterinary team has in the outcomes of veterinary care

2.  Positioned to pay more attention to the function of each role within a veterinary team

3.  Able to activate the entire veterinary team to maximize the outcomes of veterinary care 

*Sponsored by Hill's Pet Nutrition


9:45 - 10: 40 am

Derm History and Exam - Where Technicians Can Make all the Difference

Jennie Tait, AHT, RVT, VTS (Dermatology)

There are two main types of people in veterinary medicine. Those who love dermatology, and those that run from it! One of the main reasons for this, (and what is most frustrating about dermatology), is that a lot of dermatologic diseases look very similar. Can you tell the difference between a skin infection and an autoimmune disease? Is what you are looking at secondary or primary? This lecture will give you better insight into what to look for in your patient's history and physical exam to be able to come up with differentials. Combine that will some appropriate diagnostics and you are off to the races. Come learn some of the tricks of the trade, and up your derm game.

Recovery: Anesthesia is Not Over Yet

This session will include discussion about anesthetic complications and morbidity/mortality risks in the recovery period.

Special Nutritional Considerations in the Cat Compared to the Dog

Tammy J Owens, DVM, MS, DACVN

Why can’t we feed a cat like a dog? But we could get away with feeding some dogs like cats? Aren’t they both Carnivors? Why are some foods ok to feed to cats and dogs (e.g. Royal Canin Recovery, Hill’s a/d) but most are species specific? In this presentation we will explore the uniqe adapative physiology of the feline (obligate carnivore) as compared to the canine (pseudo-omnivore or facultative carnivore) and how this informs our feeding choices, the clinical consequences of nutritional mismatches, and differences in clinical care options. Come find out more reasons that cats are unique, one of a kind, crazy cute creatures. Many cat pictures promised from a certified cat lover.

Equine Rabies in Western Canada

Alycia Chrenek, DVM
A focused look into the risk for equine rabies in Western Canada. Rabies poses a significant risk to our equine community in several ways including disease exposure, human health and veterinary liability. This session will also highlight AAEP core disease vaccination recommendations.

Activating the Entire Veterinary Team to Achieve Optimal Veterinary Outcomes (Part 2)

How to maximize the effectiveness of a veterinary-practice team in order to achieve optimal veterinary outcomes. 

Jason B. Coe, DVM, PhD

To truly maximize the outcomes of veterinary care, the focus of a veterinary practice must extend beyond the one-on-one interaction between veterinary staff and a client to include the role and influence of communication among all levels of the veterinary healthcare team.  Within the human healthcare field, it has been shown that frequent, timely, accurate communication, as well as shared goals, and mutual respect among the healthcare team can lead to a number of positive patient outcomes including reduced post-operative pain, improved post-operative functioning and decreased length of hospital stay.  This interactive session will discuss a number of challenges that can affect the function of a veterinary team as well as explore ways to maximize a team’s effectiveness in order to achieve optimal veterinary outcomes.  

By the end of this presentation participants should be:

1.  More aware of the role the entire veterinary team has in the outcomes of veterinary care

2.  Positioned to pay more attention to the function of each role within a veterinary team

3.  Able to activate the entire veterinary team to maximize the outcomes of veterinary care 

*Sponsored by Hill's Pet Nutrition


11:10 am - 12:05 pm

Allergies – A Bit of Immunology and Why we Use the Drugs We Do

Jennie Tait, AHT, RVT, VTS (Dermatology)

Allergies are on the rise and seem to be running rampant. Pruritus is often the main presenting complaint, which can have several different causes. How are you to know what's what? This session will review how allergic reactions happen in our patients, as well as how to diagnose and treat them. We will go through environmental allergies as well as food allergies, giving you practical tips on how to figure out which one you are dealing with, and how to manage things from there. Allergies are a lifelong condition, and one of the most frustrating conditions to deal with. Most of our protocols for derm patients are multi-modal and are tailored for each individual patient, which can be confusing and overwhelming. Because of this, it's one of the biggest reasons that clients leave a practice. Client communication and education are paramount when dealing with your dermatology patients. This lecture is meant to give technicians a better understanding of the derm cases they will see, and how they are managed, so they can better assist clients with their understanding. When owners have a clear understanding, we get excellent compliance and better case outcomes. When you are able to explain to your client the reasoning behind their pet's treatment protocols, you are able to get them "on board" and increase not only owner compliance, but owner loyalty to your practice.

Animal Behavioural Health

Lynnsey Hamilton, RVT-VTS (Behaviour)

Animal Behavioural Health- We all know that our patients' physical wellbeing is important, but how many of us are paying attention to our patients' behavioural wellbeing as well? This session will cover why it is important, and how Fear Anxiety and Stress can have a negative impact on our patients' overall health.

Marketing, Myth, or Magic? Separating Nutritional Fact and Fiction on Hot Topics

Tammy J Owens, DVM, MS, DACVN

Pet food is a multi-billion dollar industry full of varying and sometimes conflicting marketing campaigns. The dissemination of misleading and sometimes false information in contradiction to evidence based nutritional information, as well as the sharing of anecdotal information or personal opinion as fact replacement, and feeding our pets has become confusing at best or even dangerous at its worst. In particular there are some feeding philosophies or approaches that have gained particular popularity or notoriety. These topics can often be difficult to navigate due to lack of knowledge or lack of confidence in what is known, inability to answer client questions or concerns, or concern in offending or alienating clients. In this presentation, we will cover some of these “hot-topic” issues such as grain-free, “by-products”, and alternative feeding methods, presenting factual information and addressing common myths. When able we will also allude to possible client communication strategies, as well as important contextual information such as concerns with environmental sustainability, animal welfare, or emerging disease concerns (e.g. dilated cardiomyopathy) as time allows.

Equine One Health

Alycia Chrenek, DVM
Equine One Health – A view of our industry and the contribution the equine community makes to healthy animals, healthy people and a healthy environment. Each portion of this cycle plays a role in our ability to promote a healthy equine industry.

Clearing the Hurdle: Communicating the Cost of Veterinary Care

Communication strategies to help facilitate difficult cost conversations and to relay value to clients.

Jason B. Coe, DVM, PhD

Research has shown that discussing the cost of veterinary care can be a source of unease for veterinarians. Only 29% of veterinarian-client exam-room interactions were found to include a discussion of cost.  Furthermore, when cost is discussed, it appears veterinarians and their clients may perceive ‘value’ differently, with veterinarians in many situations not framing their discussions of costs in a manner that attends to a pet owner’s perception of value. Through an interactive discussion a number of barriers to discussing the costs of veterinary care will be raise and discussed. In addition, the session will introduce a number of specific communication skills that can be used to help facilitate cost discussions and relay value to clients.

By the end of this presentation participants should be:

1.  More aware of the importance of communicating cost to veterinary clients during every interaction

2.  Positioned to pay more attention to the impact of their own communication practices

3.  Encouraged to reflect on how value is currently communicated to clients in their practices


2:15 - 3: 10 pm

Diagnostic Techniques - Simple In-House Must Dos!

Jennie Tait, AHT, RVT, VTS (Dermatology)

This presentation is intended to be a "Dermatology Bootcamp" that prepares you for success in the workup of patients with skin disease. Diagnostic techniques for dermatology include patient history, examination and many simple in-house diagnostics. The skin is a uniquely simple organ to access, and many samples can be collected easily during a patient's examination. Cytologic examination is a simple and inexpensive but high-yield test that should be performed in almost all cases. Learn how to collect and interpret cytology results. Learn how to optimize your skin scrapings for the parasite you suspect. Review when and how to collect bacterial cultures, which are becoming increasingly important with the rising prevalence of resistant staphylococci. Brush up your techniques for collecting skin biopsies, fungal cultures, and trichograms, and learn the basics of allergy testing in atopic patients. Mastering all of these skills is easy, and, will give you confidence when working up your patients.

Addressing Fear, Anxiety and Stress in our patients (Part 1)

Lynnsey Hamilton, RVT-VTS (Behaviour)

We can all recognize the overt symptoms of fear in our animals, but often we miss the subtle signs prior to the explosion. This session will talk about recognizing the subtle signs of Fear Anxiety and Stress in our patients, and look at an algorithm to determine the next steps of a procedure, keeping the animals whole wellbeing in mind.

Physical Hazards in Veterinary Medicine: Strategies to Lower Risk and Prevent Injury

Heather Getz, Account Manager, Merck Animal Health

Since 2014, 107 Veterinary Technologists and Animal Health Technicians have been injured on the job in Saskatchewan. During this presentation, we will look at the most common injuries occurring in our veterinary clinics. Participants will be given tools to take back to their clinics to identify, triage and help mitigate the hazards that may exist in their workplaces. We will practice the tools together in a brief workshop during the session.

Troubleshooting Nutrition for Poor Reproductive Performance in Cow-Calf Herds

Dr. Cheryl Waldner

While trace minerals are often the focus of attention in herds with higher than expected open rates, all investigations should include an evaluation of body condition score. Body condition scoring at pregnancy testing can provide useful insight on the role of energy balance in the face of high open rates. Micronutrient deficienccies are also a common differential in diagnosing a variety of herd problems including poor reproductive performance. While a number of trace minerals and vitamins may be considered, those which are typically the focus of interest when investigatind problems in western Canada include copper, molybdenum, selenium, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin E. This presentation will highlight key steps in investigating nutritional causes of poor reproductive performance in beef herds.

What to Say When Things Go Wrong: Communication in Challenging Situations

Communication strategies to help facilitate conversations when things go wrong.

Jason B. Coe, DVM, PhD

Unfortunately, the day-to-day practice of veterinary medicine will never be a perfect art nor a perfect science. Although procedures and protocols are put in place to prevent things from going wrong, the reality is that to err is human and we, along with other members of our team, will make mistakes from time to time. Yet, how we communicate when things go wrong, whether a medical error, a client-service blunder or other, can have a significant impact on the outcome of the situation. Research in healthcare and other industries have identified several communication elements that are important to address when things go wrong. Through an interactive discussion, this session will explore the culture surrounding when things go wrong in veterinary medicine and will introduce a number of communication elements that can be used to facilitate these challenging situations.

By the end of this presentation participants should be:

1.  Attentive to the culture that can exist when things go wrong.

2.  Aware of the role of an apology in addressing when things go wrong.

3.  Able to consider a number of communication elements that can facilitate a discussion when things go wrong.


3:40 - 4:35 pm

Addressing Fear, Anxiety and Stress in our patients (Part 2)

Lynnsey Hamilton, RVT-VTS (Behaviour)

Continuing on after recognizing the signs, we will learn what to do about them! This session will overview basic learning theory, appropriate handling, and counter conditioning and desensitization for procedures.

Chemotherapy: KNOW safety, NO accidents

Melissa Underhill RVT, VTS (IM-Oncology, ECC)

This presentation will provide a general overview of how chemotherapy works and its use in veterinary medicine. The primary discussion will encompass the current recommended safety standards for veterinary personnel and chemotherapy administration considerations.

Control of Reproductive Infections in Cow-Calf Herds - Test and Cull or Vaccinate

Dr. Cheryl Waldner

Reproductive performance is a key driver of profitability in cow-calf operations. The industry is changing and herd sizes are getting bigger. Associated with growing herd sizes is the increased opportunity for exposure to infectious disease. In this discussion, we will examine best practices for identifying and controlling reprosductive infections in coe-calf herds.

Nutrition Conversations: The Anatomy of an Effective Nutrition Recommendation

Communication strategies to enhance clients’ adherence to your nutrition recommendations.

Jason B. Coe, DVM, PhD

Research has found that veterinarians’ attempts to initiate proposals for long-term dietary change are often met with client resistance.  This resistance is often based on diet-related or proposal-relevant information shared by clients after the veterinarian’s proposal has been made. These findings highlight the importance of gathering a complete medical history including information specific to the client’s perspective (e.g., their beliefs, their expectations, etc.).  Understanding the client’s perspective provides the groundwork for educating clients and making a nutrition recommendation that has value for the client. Supported by research, this interactive session will explore a number of communication skills that can be used to understand your client’s perspective in order to make your nutrition recommendations stick.

By the end of this presentation participants should be:

1.  More aware of the direct role communication has in the outcomes of veterinary care

2.  Positioned to pay more attention to the impact of their own communication practices

3.  Able to communicate a nutrition recommendation in a way that leads to greater client investment/ commitment


4:40 pm - 5: 35 pm

Who are the regulators, and do we need them?

Marc Cattet, DVM, PhD, and Lorraine Serhienko, RVT

A lack of understanding of how and why the veterinary profession is regulated within Saskatchewan appears to be prevalent among registrants and the public based on the phone calls and emails that we receive at the SVMA office. So, our intent with this presentation, and with the question and answer session that follows, is to explain what it means to be a “self-regulated” profession. We will also compare and contrast the self-regulation approach with other ways by which the veterinary profession could be regulated, and indeed are regulated in other parts of the world.


Speaker Cancellations or Illness: The Saturday program is subject to change. The SAVT reserves the right to make session and speaker adjustments as required. In the event of a speaker cancellation or illness, delegates are encouraged to attend a session in an alternate track.