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What are dogs’ biggest health problems?
17th February 2021

By Karen Pickwick



The most common health problems in dogs are dental disease, obesity and ear infections, a new study from the Royal Veterinary College has found.

“It is hoped that these findings will encourage owners to help develop early habits during ownership to look after their dog’s teeth, ears and body weight, in order to help them live the happiest and healthy lives,” a spokesman said.

“The covid-19 pandemic has prompted an increase in the number of dog and pet owners in the UK, highlighting a national love for dogs. However, it also makes studies like this increasingly important in ensuring owners understand the responsibility of pet ownership both before and while owning a dog, in order to best support the health of their much-loved pets.”

The study is part of the RVC’s VetCompass programme, which includes anonymised veterinary information from more than eight million UK dogs. From this pool, a random sample of 22,333 dogs were followed for a year, identifying all health issues diagnosed during this time.

IMPORTANT

It is one of the largest ever studies to explore the health records from veterinary surgeries and report on the most common disorders in dogs. The research also looked at whether the health of dogs varied by age, sex and whether the dogs were neutered.

Dr Dan O’Neill, senior lecturer, companion animal epidemiology at the RVC and lead author of the paper, said: “This study shows that it is really important for owners to develop strong habits of caring for their dog’s teeth, ears and weight, right from the time they first acquire a puppy. This study shows interesting and strong correlations between human and canine healthcare: the need for good dental and bodyweight maintenance.

“Given how closely the lives of humans and dogs are intertwined, this should be no surprise really; we often share the same food and exercise. Owners should work closely with their vet to plan appropriate dental and weight care programmes at each visit to their veterinary clinic.”
 
Hannah James, health research manager at the Kennel Club and co-author of the paper, said: “As dog owners, the key priority is keeping our pets healthy and happy, but it can be difficult to put into context the most common problems that affect our canine counterparts and which areas we need to pay particular attention to in order to maintain this.

“These findings help us establish these key areas, and where we as owners, vets and organisational bodies can work towards to improve the day-to-day life of our beloved companions.”