The CATalyst: State of Pet Health 2012

?The Banfield Pet Hospital State of Pet Health 2012? Report provides a pretty accurate window to what?s going with our pets.

Banfield’s 800 hospitals in 43 states report everything about their clients to a central database. The result is “The Banfield Pet Hospital State of Pet Health.” There’s nothing else like it in animal health.

Last year, 2,600 Banfield veterinarians saw over 2 million dogs and 430,000 cats. With about 20% more owned cats than dogs, veterinary visits with cats should — in theory — exceed dog visits.

Are Cats Healthier Than Dogs?
Do cats actually get less sick than dogs? “Not at all,” says Dr. Jeff Klausner, medical director at Banfield. “Overall, veterinary visits (for cats) have been on the decline for some time. We need to get cats into the veterinary clinic. One reason is early diagnosis.”

The number of obese cats has surged a whopping 90% over the past five years, according to the Banfield data, bringing the rate of overweight or obese cats to 1 in 3. When told their cat is overweight or obese, 69% of the clients are surprised, or at least say they had no idea their cat is too round around the middle.

Interestingly, the states with the most fat cats include Minnesota, Oklahoma, Utah and Colorado, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Kalusner admits he’s not sure what to make of that data. Colorado has the lowest obesity rate nationwide for people; West Virginia has the highest obesity rate followed by Delaware and Mississippi.

Cats’ weight gain undoubtedly contributes to the rise in arthritis, diabetes and several other problems mentioned in Banfield’s Report. In cats, diabetes and arthritis are both on the rise. Several explanations exist for the increase in both conditions, but Klausner notes that being overweight may correlate.

Frequent Vet Visits Maintain Cat Health
One advantage of regular veterinary visits is to catch disease early. Klausner says that an early diagnosis can matter in kidney disease, for example, which is ubiquitous in older cats. Interestingly, according to the report, about 30 to nearly 40% of all pets with kidney disease also had periodontal disease. Related ailments, or two separate but common conditions among older cats?

Another aspect of the report: Since 2007, the incidents of hyperthyroid in cats increased 19%, according to the Banfield report. Simultaneously, the rate of hyperthyroid disease in people is also rising. Is this due to environmental factors? A U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, Indiana University and University of Georgia report shows evidence linking the disease to exposure to environmental contaminants called polybrominated diphenyl (PBDEs), dust shed from flame retardants in household carpeting, furniture and fabrics.

While feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy remains the most common heart disease in cats, the report suggests HCM has actually decreased 14% since 2007. South Dakota, by far, leads all states with feline heart disease, a stat which Klausner can’t explain.

And finally, at least at Banfield clinics, the most common names for cats are Tiger, Max and the not so creative, Kitty. 

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