A few months ago Banfield Pet Hospital put out its annual State of Pet Health Report and focused on 5 pet health concerns that have been heavily increasing over the past few years.
1. Overweight and Obese Pets. Since 2007, overweight and obesity have increased by 37 percent in dogs and a HUGE 90 percent in cats. 1 in 5 pets is overweight. Do I really have to give the fat pet lecture again? Fat pets are so not cool or healthy!
2. Arthritis. Arthritis has increased 38 percent in dogs and 67 percent in cats over the last 5 years and it’s no surprise that almost half of these pets are overweight. 22 percent of senior dogs diagnosed with arthritis are large and giant breed dogs.
3. Kidney Disease. Kidney disease is more common in cats than dogs and according to the Banfield report 1 in 12 senior cats has the disease. A majority of both dogs and cats with kidney disease also have periodontal disease. Average life expectancy after diagnosis of kidney disease for a cat is 2-3 years if it is caught early and less than six months if the disease is diagnosed later on.
4. Thyroid Disease. Hypothyroidism has increased six percent in dogs since 2007, and hyperthyroidism has increased 13 percent in cats during the same amount of time. Left untreated thyroid disease can lead to high blood pressure, kidney disease and heart failure. 1 in 200 dogs had hypothyroidism in 2011 and the numbers continue to increase.
5. Heart Disease. Heart Disease is Heart disease is three times more likely to be detected in dogs than in cats. Twenty-eight percent of dogs and 25 percent of cats with cardiomyopathy also have periodontal disease.
I’m assuming that periodontal disease would be next on the list, but that’s just a guess.
You can view the State of Pet Health Report here, and while you’re there I highly recommend that you check out the geographic trends of each condition.
I can say with certainly that from what I have experienced, this list is spot on for chronic health conditions that I have seen in pets and it’s quite alarming to know that most of these numbers continue to rise. I can’t stress enough the importance of routine check ups for your pet. Even if your pet is not due for any vaccines they should be seen by your vet at least once a year for a well visit.
Senior pets, pets over seven years of age, should be seen at least twice a year, once for well visit and once for a full senior exam, and while I know that cost can be a concern, a good idea is to set up a “senior pet fund” where each month you set aside a small amount of money so you can give your pet that senior exam once a year. Normally a senior exam will include full bloodwork, a urinalysis, a full exam and some clinics may also offer blood pressure checks and radiographs at a reduced cost.
Even if your senior pet is feeling fine, I would consider doing the senior exam and my reason for that is because first, it’s always nice to have a baseline of what your pets values are, and second, very often, by the time a senior pet shows signs that they are not feeling well, a chronic disease may have progressed beyond help. The earlier you can catch a chronic disease and start treating it the better!