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Assessment of owner willingness to treat or manage diseases of dogs and cats as a guide to shelter animal adoptability

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  • 1 Department of Veterinary Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011.
  • | 2 Survey and Behavioral Research Services, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011.
  • | 3 Survey and Behavioral Research Services, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011.
  • | 4 Department of Statistics, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011.
  • | 5 Department of Veterinary Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011.
  • | 6 Center for Food Security and Public Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011.
  • | 7 Center for Food Security and Public Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011.
  • | 8 Center for Food Security and Public Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011.
  • | 9 Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011.
  • | 10 Department of Veterinary Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011.

Abstract

Objective—To determine community approaches to medical and behavioral diseases in dogs and cats.

Design—Cross-sectional descriptive study.

Sample—97 companion animal veterinarians and 424 animal owners.

Procedures—Companion animal veterinarians in central Iowa ranked medical or behavioral diseases or conditions by what they thought most clients would consider healthy, treatable, manageable, or unhealthy (unmanageable or untreatable). In a parallel survey, cat- or dog-owning households in central Iowa responded to a telephone survey regarding the relationship of their animal in the household, owner willingness to provide medical or behavioral interventions, and extent of financial commitment to resolving diseases.

Results—One hundred twenty common health or behavioral disorders in cats and dogs were ranked by veterinarians as healthy, treatable, manageable, or unhealthy (unmanageable or untreatable) on the basis of their opinion of what most clients would do. Findings were in congruence with animal owners' expressed willingness to provide the type of care required to maintain animals with many acute or chronic medical and behavioral conditions. In general, owners indicated a willingness to use various treatment modalities and spend money on veterinary services when considering current or previously owned animals as well as hypothetical situations with an animal. Past experiences with veterinary care in which an animal did not recover fully did not diminish the willingness of respondents to use veterinary services again in the future.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—These results provide a baseline indication of community willingness to address medical or behavioral conditions in dogs and cats. These considerations can be used in conjunction with Asilomar Accords recommendations to assess adoptability of cats and dogs in animal shelters.

Abstract

Objective—To determine community approaches to medical and behavioral diseases in dogs and cats.

Design—Cross-sectional descriptive study.

Sample—97 companion animal veterinarians and 424 animal owners.

Procedures—Companion animal veterinarians in central Iowa ranked medical or behavioral diseases or conditions by what they thought most clients would consider healthy, treatable, manageable, or unhealthy (unmanageable or untreatable). In a parallel survey, cat- or dog-owning households in central Iowa responded to a telephone survey regarding the relationship of their animal in the household, owner willingness to provide medical or behavioral interventions, and extent of financial commitment to resolving diseases.

Results—One hundred twenty common health or behavioral disorders in cats and dogs were ranked by veterinarians as healthy, treatable, manageable, or unhealthy (unmanageable or untreatable) on the basis of their opinion of what most clients would do. Findings were in congruence with animal owners' expressed willingness to provide the type of care required to maintain animals with many acute or chronic medical and behavioral conditions. In general, owners indicated a willingness to use various treatment modalities and spend money on veterinary services when considering current or previously owned animals as well as hypothetical situations with an animal. Past experiences with veterinary care in which an animal did not recover fully did not diminish the willingness of respondents to use veterinary services again in the future.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—These results provide a baseline indication of community willingness to address medical or behavioral conditions in dogs and cats. These considerations can be used in conjunction with Asilomar Accords recommendations to assess adoptability of cats and dogs in animal shelters.

Contributor Notes

Supported by Maddie's Fund, a Pet Rescue Foundation.

Address correspondence to Dr. Petersen (kalicat@iastate.edu).