State of Pet Health Report 2012
“The health of America’s pets is deteriorating; pets are getting sicker than they need to,” says Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, medical director Banfield the Pet Hospital.
Klausner bases his candid assessment on the “Banfield Pet Hospital State of Pet Health 2012 Report.” The document offers the only meaningful sum of available data to sum up pet health in America. There’s no Centers for Disease Control for pets, but the Banfield report provides the next best thing; their 800 hospitals in 43 states report all illnesses to their database, trekking every detail on pet health. Last year, 2,600 Banfield veterinarians saw over two million dogs and nearly 430,000 cats.
While there are about 20 percent more cats than dogs in the U.S., cats represented less than a quarter of visits to the veterinarian, according to the Report. Is it because cats rarely get sick? “Not at all,” says Klausner. “Overall, veterinary visits have been on the decline for some time. This is particularly true for cats – we need to get cats into the veterinary clinic.”
The number of overweight or obese cats has increased a whopping 90 percent over the past five years, Banfield’s data shows. Dogs aren’t exactly maintaining their svelte figures either, as overweight and obese canines increased 37 percent over the past five years. Klausner doesn’t mince words, “It’s an epidemic,” he says.
There are many explanations for the striking rise in weight gain among pets. One is that pet owners truly aren’t aware their pet is overweight. According to the Report, 76 percent of dog owners and 69 percent cat owners don’t know their best friend is flabby.
Interestingly, Minnesota has the highest rate of overweight dogs and cats. South Dakota, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and Washington State also rank high. What does this mean? Klausner admits he’s not sure, especially since these states don’t correlate where the most people are overweight and obese. (According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Colorado actually has the lowest obesity rate nationwide for people; West Virginia has the highest obesity rate followed by Delaware, Mississippi and Louisiana).
No doubt the rise in arthritis, diabetes and several other problems mentioned in Banfield’s Report is correlate to the increase in weight gain. According to the study, since 2007 the prevalence of arthritis in dogs has increased 38 percent. It’s relatively recent that veterinarians are even considering arthritis in cats, and instances have gone up 67 percent over the past five years. Also, not surprising, the states with the most overweight pets also tend to have the most that are arthritic and diabetic.
Here are some more facts and figures from the “Banfield Pet Hospital State of Pet Health 2012 Report:”
- The most common small dog breeds (under 20 lbs): Chihuahua, Scottish Terrier
- The most common medium dogs (20 to 50 lbs): Beagle and Boxer
- The most common large dogs (50 to 90 lbs.): German Shepherd dog and Golden Retriever
- The most common giant dogs (over 90 lbs.) Great Dane and Great Pyrenees
- One of the most common dogs seen, overall: dogs described as Pit Bulls
- Overall dog trends: More mixed breed dogs, fewer dogs described (by weight) as large and giant.
- The most common names for cats: Tiger, Max and Kitty
- The most common names for dogs: Max, Buddy and Bella
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