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Disease prevalence among dogs and cats in the United States and Australia and proportions of dogs and cats that receive therapeutic diets or dietary supplements

Lisa M. Freeman DVM, PhD, DACVN1, Sarah K. Abood DVM, PhD2, Andrea J. Fascetti VMD, PhD, DACVIM, DACVN3, Linda M. Fleeman BVSc, MACVSc4, Kathryn E. Michel DVM, MS, DACVN5, Dorothy P. Laflamme DVM, PhD, DACVN6, Cassandra Bauer BS7, Brona L. E. Kemp BVSc8, Janine R. Van Doren BS9, and Kristina N. Willoughby VMD10
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  • 1 Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536.
  • | 2 Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824.
  • | 3 Department of Molecular Bioscience, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616.
  • | 4 School of Veterinary Science, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
  • | 5 Department of Clinical Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104.
  • | 6 Nestlé Purina PetCare Research, Checkerboard Square, St Louis, MO 63164.
  • | 7 Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824.
  • | 8 School of Veterinary Science, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
  • | 9 Department of Molecular Bioscience, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616.
  • | 10 Department of Clinical Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

Abstract

Objective—To estimate disease prevalence among dogs and cats in the United States and Australia and proportions of dogs and cats that receive therapeutic diets or dietary supplements.

Design—Telephone survey.

Sample Population—Dog and cat owners located in 5 geographic areas.

Procedures—A telephone survey was administered to dog and cat owners.

Results—Of 18,194 telephone calls that were made, 1,104 (6%) were to individuals who owned at least 1 dog or cat and agreed to participate. Information was collected for 635 dogs and 469 cats. Only 14 (1%) respondents indicated that their pet was unhealthy, but 176 (16%) indicated that their pets had 1 or more diseases. The most common diseases were musculo-skeletal, dental, and gastrointestinal tract or hepatic disease. Many owners (n = 356) reported their pets were overweight or obese, but only 3 reported obesity as a health problem in their pets. Owners of 28 (2.5%) animals reported that they were feeding a therapeutic diet, with the most common being diets for animals with renal disease (n = 5), reduced-calorie diets (5), and reduced-fat diets (4). Owners of 107 of 1,076 (9.9%) animals reported administering dietary supplements to their pets. Multivitamins (n = 53 animals), chondroprotective agents (22), and fatty acids (13) were the most common dietary supplements used.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that most dogs and cats reported by their owners to have a health problem were not being fed a therapeutic diet. In addition, the rate of dietary supplement use was lower than that reported for people.

Contributor Notes

Presented in part at the Nestlé Purina Nutrition Forums, St Louis, October 2004 and November 2005.

Supported by Nestlé Purina PetCare Research.

Address correspondence to Dr. Freeman.