The diabetes rate is soaring among canine patients seen at Banfield Pet Hospitals, while dental disease plagues more than two-thirds of all cats and dogs examined, the company revealed Wednesday in its 2016 State of Pet Health Report.
The statistics, based on the medical data of 3 million Banfield patients, function as a reminder of the disorders afflicting many animals and as an advisory to cat and dog owners that they could do more to improve pet health.
“It is our hope that the information in this report continues to serve as a catalyst for pet owners to partner with veterinary teams to help pets live better lives through preventive care,” said Banfield’s chief medical officer, Daniel Aja, DVM.
The rate of canine diabetes—most often insulin-dependent Type 1—has jumped by 79.7 percent since 2006, to 23.6 cases out of every 10,000 patients in 2015. Over the same period, feline diabetes rose by 18.1 percent, to 67.6 cases in 10,000.
Addressing the disease usually means more frequent veterinary visits as well as dietary changes—the latter adjustment because of the link between obesity and diabetes.
The Banfield report found canine diabetes to be most prevalent in Iowa, Kentucky, Montana, Nevada and Wisconsin. Among cats, the rates were highest in Arkansas, Delaware, New Mexico and Wisconsin.
More than 925 Banfield hospitals are scattered across 42 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. A lone South Dakota hospital included in the report has since closed.
The Portland, Ore., company, which cared for 2.5 million dogs and 500,000 cats in 2015, called dental disease the most common diagnosed disorder in patients. Dog owners in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Nevada heard the bad news most often, but they could do their part, Banfield noted, if they scheduled more frequent dental cleanings, brushed the pet’s teeth at least every other day, and provided tartar-fighting chews, water additives and specially formulated food.
Periodontal disease, which may harm the kidneys in severe cases, has risen by 23 percent since 2006, afflicting 76 percent of dogs and 68 percent of cats, according to Banfield.
Among other findings in the report:
- Heartworm disease was diagnosed in all 43 states, but the condition was especially bad in Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas, which offer excellent breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Mostly dry Nevada had the lowest prevalence of heartworm disease—171 times less than in Mississippi. Banfield advised that year-round preventives are an easy way to protect pets from heartworm.
- The rate of otitis externa, or ear canal inflammation, fell from a high of 14.3 percent of dogs in 2010 to 12.9 percent in 2015. Among cats, the rate was 6.6 percent last year. Some of the highest rates for both cats and dogs were in Puerto Rico and Florida.
- Fleas have become less of a bother for dogs—from 7.5 infestation cases per 100 in 2012 to 5.9 cases per 100 in 2015. Cats had it worse, at 10.9 cases per 100. Banfield’s takeaway message: “More cats need to be on flea prevention.”
- Internal parasites—roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms—have become less common over the past few years in dogs and cats. Banfield credited increased use of flea preventives in both species and greater use of heartworm medications in dogs.
- The most common canine patient walking into a Banfield hospital in 2015 was a Chihuahua, followed by a Labrador retriever, Yorkshire terrier and Shih Tzu.
- The average weight of a feline patient was 10 pounds. Common diagnoses in cats included feline respiratory virus, kidney disease and tapeworms.