Analyses delve into osteosarcoma prevalence, veterinary pricing

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An analysis of Nationwide’s pet insurance claims has revealed trends in the prevalence of osteosarcoma in dogs in the United States by size, breed, and other factors.

Another analysis of claims found that U.S. veterinary pricing for medical treatments and wellness care both increased faster than the consumer price index did from January 2015 through June 2016.

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Nationwide released the report “Osteosarcoma: Prevalence and influences” at AVMA Convention 2016 this past August in San Antonio and presented the report again Feb. 6 at the 2017 North American Veterinary Community Conference in Orlando, Florida. Also at the NAVC Conference, the company gave an update on the Nationwide-Purdue Veterinary Price Index.

According to the executive summary of the osteosarcoma study: “Osteosarcoma diagnoses are significantly more common among the largest dogs, a trend more pronounced in a number of extra-large breeds. The disease prevalence starts to climb in late middle age, peaking from age 8-11, after which prevalence declines in step with the typical lifespan for large and extra-large dogs. Gender does not appear a significant risk, although male dogs are slightly more affected than females.”

The five breeds at the highest risk for osteosarcoma were Irish Wolfhound, with a 7.31 percent prevalence of the disease; Greyhound, 5.56 percent; Akbash, 4.76 percent; St. Bernard, 4.12 percent; and Leonberger, 4.04 percent. The prevalence among all dogs was 0.35 percent. Also, an osteosarcoma diagnosis was more likely in the West and in rural areas.

According to the report summary: “In analyzing the data set, Nationwide hopes to assist the veterinary community in educating pet owners about the prevalence of osteosarcoma, a disease with a generally poor prognosis. Sharing this information may lead pet owners to choose a different breed of dog. Additionally, a general knowledge of osteosarcoma prevalence allows those with the most affected breeds to be aware of the higher risks, so that affected dogs can be diagnosed as early as possible, when prognosis and treatment options are greatest.”

Veterinary pricing continues to increase following a decline that lasted from 2009 through 2014, per the new report on the Nationwide-Purdue Veterinary Price Index. The increase continues to be highest in urban areas and the Midwest.

The latest analysis found a 4 percent increase in veterinary pricing from January 2015 through June 2016. The consumer price index increased 2.1 percent for all consumer spending on goods and services over the same period. Medical treatments are driving the continuing increase in the veterinary price index more than wellness care is.

The Midwest had a 6.1 percent increase in veterinary pricing during the 18-month period. Veterinary pricing in urban areas increased 6.2 percent in that period.

The osteosarcoma report and the pricing update are available at

Related JAVMA content:

Foundation receives $1M grant for osteosarcoma research (April 15, 2017)

Analysis finds veterinary prices flat for 2009 to mid-2015 (March 15, 2016)