Pet Diseases Increasing

Tiger was a seemingly healthy tabby cat. He enjoyed treats and loved to tackle his toys. He made frequent visits to the water dish, but his owners attributed this to thirst from playing so hard. Then a routine veterinary exam resulted in a shocking diagnosis of chronic cat kidney disease, devastating Tiger’s family. Unfortunately, they are not alone in this experience. Banfield Pet Hospital’s 2012 State of Pet Health Report revealed an alarming trend: the incidence of chronic disease in dogs and cats is increasing.

More than 2 million dogs and 430,000 cats visited Banfield veterinarians in 43 states in 2011. Upon tracking their diagnoses, researchers discovered that obesity, arthritis, kidney disease, thyroid disease and heart disease are all on the rise in the American pet population – with the first three among the most prevalent.

Pet Obesity Increased 37 Percent in Dogs and 90 Percent in Cats

Over the last five years, the diagnosis of obese or overweight pets has increased 37 percent in dogs and 90 percent in cats. Unfortunately, 76 percent of dog owners and 69 percent of cat owners still believe their pet is at a healthy weight. This causes a host of serious problems.
According to Banfield’s data, 42 percent of dogs and 40 percent of cats with diabetes are overweight. Forty percent of dogs and 37 percent of cats with arthritis are overweight. More than 40 percent of dogs with high blood pressure are also overweight.
Weighing your pet regularly is the best way to monitor body condition. When stroking an overweight pet, you will barely feel the ribs, spine or hipbones. You may also notice a lack of waist definition and the presence of belly fat. Overweight pets may have difficulty breathing or engaging in normal activity.
If your pet is otherwise healthy, restricting calories and increasing activity are usually successful weight loss methods. Your vet may recommend nutritional counseling and a special diet as well. 

Dog Arthritis Increased 38 Percent, Cat Arthritis Increased 67

If left untreated, this inflammation of the joints can cause irreversible damage, chronic pain and restricted movement. As mentioned earlier, about one in three dogs and cats with arthritis are also overweight. Unfortunately, 68 percent of dog owners and 73 percent of cat owners were unaware of this link.
Signs of the disease range from decreased activity level and stiffness to limping and muscle loss. Cats, in particular, are likely to hide their arthritis symptoms. While pets of all ages may develop it, the average age at diagnosis is nine for dogs and 12 for cats.
Mild arthritis treatment includes weight loss, anti-inflammatory medications, nutritional supplements and physical therapy. Moderate to severe arthritis may require stronger medication.

Kidney Disease in Cats is Seven Times More Common than in Dogs

The cause of chronic kidney disease is unknown, yet it is one of the leading causes of death in cats. Unfortunately, 55 percent of cat owners don’t realize that their pet may suffer from the disease without any outward appearance of illness. This is because kidney function decreases gradually over time. That said, warning signs include increased thirst, increased urination, decreased appetite, weight loss and vomiting.
Annual to semiannual veterinary exams with blood and urine testing are critical to early diagnosis. Cats diagnosed early usually live another two to three years. Those diagnosed in later stages of the disease often live less than six months. Special diets and other veterinarian prescribed treatments are available to improve quality of life.

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