Banfield report reveals increase in overweight pets, arthritis

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State of Pet Health 2012 ReportThe prevalence of overweight dogs and cats increased between 2007 and 2011, as did the prevalence of arthritic dogs and cats, according to the State of Pet Health 2012 Report that Banfield Pet Hospital released in May.

The report drew on medical data from 2 million dogs and nearly 430,000 cats that were patients at Banfield’s 800 hospitals in 2011. This is the second year Banfield has issued such a report. The 2012 report focuses on chronic diseases, including obesity, arthritis, kidney disease, thyroid disease, and heart disease.

About one in five dogs and cats is overweight, the report states. The prevalence of overweight dogs increased almost 37 percent between 2007 and 2011, while the prevalence of overweight cats increased more than 90 percent. The prevalence of arthritis increased 38 percent in dogs and 67 percent in cats.

Banfield worked with Kelton Research to survey 2,000 dog and cat owners about their perceptions regarding chronic diseases and steps they can take to keep their pets healthy. Respondents selected from a list of reasons they would be likely to take their dog or cat to a veterinarian. Management of an existing condition did not rank high among the responses (see sidebar).

“At Banfield, we strongly believe in regular preventive care and early disease diagnosis. The key to successful early disease diagnosis involves a partnership between pet owners and their veterinarian to identify changes in a pet’s overall health and behavior,” said Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, Banfield’s senior vice president and chief medical officer. “In partnership with pet owners, we hope to reduce the number of pets living with undiagnosed or unmanaged chronic diseases.”

The State of Pet Health 2012 Report documented an association between excess weight and other chronic conditions in dogs and cats. The report revealed that 40 percent of arthritic dogs and 37 percent of arthritic cats are overweight, 42 percent of diabetic dogs and 40 percent of diabetic cats are overweight, and 40 percent of dogs with high blood pressure and 60 percent of dogs with hypothyroidism are overweight.

The prevalence of chronic kidney disease in cats increased by 15 percent between 2007 and 2011, according to the report. In 2011, one in 12 geriatric cats had a diagnosis of kidney disease.

Dr. Ron DeHaven, AVMA chief executive officer, said the report’s findings mean that veterinarians need to continually focus on regular preventive care and early disease detection.

The AVMA and Banfield are among the founders of the Partnership for Preventive Pet Healthcare. Dr. DeHaven noted the primary reason for formation of the partnership was to help veterinarians understand and communicate the importance of regular preventive care for pets.

The State of Pet Health 2012 Report is available at

Reasons for visiting a veterinarian

Responding to a survey by Banfield Pet Hospital and Kelton Research, dog and cat owners selected from a list of reasons they would be likely to take their pet to a veterinarian. Here is the ranking of the responses:

  • Pet is injured.
  • Routine vaccinations.
  • Pet is sick.
  • Routine check-up.
  • To get spayed or neutered.
  • Intestinal parasite testing and/or medication.
  • Pet is acting differently than usual.
  • Heartworm testing and/or prevention.
  • Flea or tick medications.
  • Management of an existing condition.
  • Prescriptions.
  • Dental cleaning.
  • Dental examination.
  • Nutritional counseling.
  • Behavior counseling.
  • Other.