A five-year study of 7,827 dogs that had undergone routine veterinary wellness checkups found 31 percent with some kind of laboratory panel abnormality, according to Zoetis Animal Health, which conducted the study leading to its Pet Wellness Report.
The study and the resulting report looked at laboratory panels for each dog and the results of a health risk assessment questionnaire submitted by each dog’s owner.
The lab and survey results mirrored one another.
The canine study is the largest look at wellness data so far, according to the Florham Park, N.J.-based worldwide producer of pet and livestock medicines and vaccinations.
Some 264 primary-care veterinarians participated in the study.
"Veterinary care is an essential component in ensuring the health and longevity of companion animals and providing peace of mind to owners that they are taking the best care of their cherished pets,” said J. Michael McFarland, DVM, Dipl. ABVP, group director of companion animal veterinary operations for Zoetis.
The lab panel abnormalities were consistent with a range of conditions, including endocrinopathies, renal disease, hepatic disease, anemia and other health concerns.
The pet owner surveys were collected from clinics in 46 states from 2007 to 2012. The information collected included a pet’s demographics, risk information and outcome information for tests like heartworm ag.
The surveys were analyzed for frequency of pet owner responses and the association analysis of related questions.
Clinics that enroll in the Pet Wellness Report Program will be able to generate electronic Canine Wellness Reports that they can go over with their patients’ owners.
The reports give an overall health assessment; cancer, heart, dental, nutrition and safety profiles; and offer recommendations to lessen the chance of problems cropping up later.
"Through the Pet Wellness Report, we are pleased to provide a useful resource for veterinarians to better serve their clients and to enhance the bond between pet owners and their dogs and cats,” Dr. McFarland added.
A similar study is ongoing with cats.
The results of the study were presented for the first time at the recent American Veterinary Medical Association conference in Chicago.
Some of the findings include:
• 26.6 percent responded "yes” that their dog experienced some stiffness when getting up or after exercise.
• As expected, the number of "yes” responses increased to 45 percent with dogs ages 10 to 12 and to 67 percent for dogs 13 years or older.
• The survey found 10 percent of pet owners neglected to give their pet preventive heartworm medicine, while 30 percent gave it, but sporadically.
• Pet owners who indicated they did not bring their dogs in for regular examinations were 68 percent more likely to have dogs that tested positive for heartworm.
• Only 2.9 percent of pet owners who scheduled regular checkups and diligently used year-round heartworm preventive saw heartworm in their pets.
"The Pet Wellness Report helps us give better preventive care to our patients,” said Beverly L. Shaw, DVM, of the Sunbury Animal Hospital in Sunbury, Pa.
"We find hidden problems long before they show up on a physical exam,” Dr. Shaw added.
The Pet Wellness Report is available at veterinary clinics in the East and Midwest and will become available at clinics nationwide in October.
To become part of the Pet Wellness Report Program, veterinarians are encouraged to visit PetWellnessReport.com.