Banfield report: obesity, osteoarthritis on the rise in veterinary patients

July 28, 2019

The ninth annual Banfield State of Pet Health Report focused on two intertwined problems: obesity and joint disease.

Banfield Pet Hospital reports that it's seeing not only an increase in obese dogs, but also an increase in osteoarthritis that's tied to obesity. (Dmitrii/stock.adobe.com)According to the State of Pet Health 2019 Report, released last month by Banfield Pet Hospital, dogs and cats are more likely to be affected by osteoarthritis (OA) today than they were 10 years ago. According to a company press release, the hospital chain has seen a 66% increase of OA in dogs and a 150% increase in cats over the past decade.

What's more, the connection between OA and overweight is undeniable; 52% of the dogs and 41% of the cats with OA cared for in 2018 at Banfield practices were obese. (According to Nationwide, one in three dogs and cats are overweight.) The report makes the point that OA and overweight are part of a vicious cycle that worsens the joint disease: The pet experiences arthritic changes, which lead to reduced mobility, potential weight gain and, ultimately, progressive arthritic changes.

Compiled from data culled from more than 2.5 million dogs and 500,000 cats seen at Banfield Pet Hospitals each year, the annual State of Pet Health Report explores a specific clinical area in depth to provide trends along with prevention and treatment advice for pet owners.

For healthier patients, bust those myths!

Also included in the report were several myths pet owners may believe about pets, overweight and arthritis. Be prepared to address these and other fallacies the next time a plump pup or corpulent kitty comes to your practice.

Myth: “My pet is too young to get OA.”

Fact: Although it is more common in older pets, OA can affect dogs and cats at any age.

Myth: "My pet is just slowing down because he's getting older.”

Fact: Decreased activity and sensitivity to touch can indicate inflammation or pain caused by OA.

Myth: “My pet doesn't need to be on a special diet to increase mobility or promote weight loss.”

Fact: This one may be true for some pets, but many can benefit from these specially formulated diets.

Myth: "My dog can't be overweight if I feed him according to the instructions on the pet food bag.”

Fact: These instructions are generally only intended to be guidelines, so your pet may benefit from a reduced serving size. Also, many pet owners don't consider the treats they feed; calories from treats can add up quickly.

“All of us at Banfield understand [that] diagnosing and treating a complicated and sometimes overlooked disease like osteoarthritis is a joint effort-and that pets can benefit from better management of both pain and excess weight,” said Molly McAllister, DVM, MPH, Banfield's chief medical officer, in the release. The goal with this year's report, she said, “is to arm pet owners with the tools they need to spot signs of OA and empower them to have meaningful conversations with their veterinarians to give their pets the best lives possible.” 

Related findings from the report include:

> 6.1% of dogs and 1.1% of cats are affected by OA.

> About 20% of dogs and 4% of cats with OA were aged 10 years or older.

> Overweight or obese dogs are 2.3 times more likely than average-weight dogs to be diagnosed with OA.

> Dogs with OA are 1.7 times more likely to be overweight or obese than dogs without OA.

> Cats with OA are 1.2 times more likely to be overweight or obese than cats without OA.