Report: Heartworm disease decreasing, diabetes increasing

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Heartworm infection in dogs decreased between 2006 and 2015, while diabetes mellitus increased in dogs and cats, according to the State of Pet Health 2016 Report from Banfield Pet Hospital.

The sixth annual report, released April 20, draws on data from about 2.5 million dogs and nearly 500,000 cats in more than 900 hospitals across the country.

According to the report, there was a 41.5 percent decrease in cases of heartworm infection in dogs between 2006 and 2015, down to 54.2 cases per 10,000 dogs tested. Between 2013 and 2015, there was a 12 percent increase in the use of heartworm preventives in dogs seen at Banfield hospitals.

Infographic: Heartworm Disease in Dogs
Source: Banfield Pet Hospital’s State of Pet Health 2016 Report

There is a distinct geographic pattern for heartworm disease, with the highest prevalence of heartworm infection in 2015 occurring in the Southeastern states and Puerto Rico. This includes Mississippi, 4.1 percent of tested dogs; Louisiana, 3.9 percent; Arkansas, 3.6 percent; and Puerto Rico and Alabama, 1.6 percent.

Diabetes mellitus in dogs increased by 79.7 percent between 2006 and 2015, to 23.6 cases per 10,000 dogs. Prevalence in cats increased by 18.1 percent over the same time frame, to 67.6 cases per 10,000 cats.

There is no clear regional pattern to the highest rates of diabetes in dogs and cats. The greatest prevalence of diabetes in 2015 in dogs was found in Nevada, Montana, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Kentucky. In cats, the highest rates were found in New Mexico, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Wisconsin, and Arkansas.

The Banfield report also delves into dental disease, otitis externa, and infestation with fleas, ticks, and internal parasites.

Dental disease is the most common disorder among dogs and cats, affecting 68 percent of cats and 76 percent of dogs in 2015. Dental disease increased by 8 percent in dogs and 9.7 percent in cats between 2011 and 2015. Tooth resorption in cats increased 1,587 percent between 2006 and 2015, with the cause for the drastic increase unknown.

Otitis externa decreased 6.4 percent in dogs between 2011 and 2015, with the prevalence in cats remaining unchanged. The condition remains very common in certain dog breeds, with one in four Golden Retrievers and one in five Labrador Retrievers having a diagnosis of otitis externa.

Flea infestation in dogs decreased 8.4 percent between 2011 and 2015 and remained unchanged in cats. In 2015, the prevalence of flea infestation in cats, 10.9 cases per 100 cats, was almost twice that in dogs, 5.9 cases per 100 dogs. Tick infestations in dogs decreased 11.3 percent between 2006 and 2015, remaining uncommon in cats.

Between 2011 and 2015, Banfield saw a reduction of roundworm, whipworm, and tapeworm infections in dogs, although the prevalence of hookworm infections remained relatively unchanged. In cats, there was a reduction of roundworm, hookworm, whipworm, and tapeworm infections—although, as with flea infestation, cats were more than twice as likely to have a tapeworm infection, compared with dogs, in 2015.

The State of Pet Health 2016 Report is available here.

Related JAVMA content:

Report explores disconnect over preventive care (Oct. 1, 2015)

Banfield finds increase in FIV, borreliosis (June 1, 2014)

Banfield: Spaying, neutering correlate with longer lives (July 1, 2013)

Banfield report reveals increase in overweight pets, arthritis (June 15, 2012)

Banfield reports on state of pet health (June 15, 2011)