Prevalence of disorders recorded in dogs attending primary-care veterinary practices in England

Study highlights most common canine health problems

Source: D.G. O’Neill, D.B. Church, P.D. McGreevy, P.C. Thomson, D.C. Brodbelt
PLOS One 2014 vol 9 no 3 e90501, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0090501

There are from 8 to 10 million dogs in the UK, where an estimated 24% to 31% of households have one or more dogs. There is a need for more analysis of health problems and possible links to breeding practices. Common canine health problems have been estimated by the VetCompass Animal Surveillance project, using information on dogs attending English veterinary practices.

This study used an in-depth examination of the electronic records of 3,884 dogs attending 89 clinics, between September 1, 2009 and March 31, 2013. Of the total, 76% or 2,945 dogs suffered from at least one condition. Ear infections affected 10.2 % of dogs, periodontal disease affected 9.3 %, anal sac impaction affected 7.1 %. Skin conditions affected 36% of the dogs, digestive tract problems affected 30% and musculoskeletal system problems affected 15%. The head and neck was the most common part of the body affected, and inflammation was the most common pathology recorded.

Pedigree dogs were significantly more likely to suffer many diseases than were crossbreeds, including ear problems, obesity and tumours, while cross-breeds did not rank higher than pedigree dogs in any disease category. There was a lot of variety from one breed to another in terms of how likely they were to suffer from common disorders. Changes in breeding practices using a breed-by-breed approach could bring about genetic improvements that help to reduce the risk of dogs being affected by common diseases