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News Article

Study compares welfare impact of major conditions in dogs


Dental disorders, osteoarthritis and obesity have emerged as priority areas for health-related welfare improvement in the UK dog population

Research carried out by the Royal Veterinary College’s (RVC) VetCompass™ programme investigated the prevalence, severity and duration of the major conditions seen in dogs in UK veterinary practices to provide an overall measure of welfare impact. The findings are published in BMC Veterinary Research.

The eight common conditions examined in this study were anal sac disorder, conjunctivitis, dental disease, dermatitis, overweight/obesity, lipoma, osteoarthritis and otitis externa. The most common of these were dental disorder, being overweight/obese and anal sac disorder and the ones that affected the dogs’ lives for the longest were dental disease, osteoarthritis and obesity. Conditions classified as most severe were osteoarthritis, otitis externa and dermatitis.

When the three measures of frequency, duration and severity were taken together, the conditions with the highest welfare impact overall were dental disease, osteoarthritis and obesity.

The study, funded by Dogs Trust, was conducted by analysing data from 455,557 dogs who presented at veterinary practices participating in VetCompass. It represents a collaboration between researchers at the RVC, University of Cambridge and University of Leeds.

Dave Brodbelt, Professor of Evidence-based Veterinary Medicine at the RVC and senior researcher on the study, said: “First opinion veterinary professionals see dogs presenting to them with a range of condition every day and understand what are the common diseases that they treat. Yet there is a need for clear evidence-based welfare assessment of the major conditions of dogs. This work adds to our understanding by allowing the transparent comparison of commonly seen disorders in primary practice and highlights conditions with greatest welfare impact.”

Article: Summers, J.F., O'Neill, D.G., Church, D., Collins, L., Sargan, D., Brodbelt, D.C. (2019). Health-related welfare prioritisation of canine disorders using electronic health records in primary care practice in the UK. BMC Veterinary Research 15:163, doi: 10.1186/s12917-019-1902-0

Article details

  • Date
  • 30 May 2019
  • Source
  • Royal Veterinary College
  • Subject(s)
  • Dogs, Cats, and other Companion Animals