Chronic Disease is Rising in this Pet Population

A massive study of 2.1 million dogs and 450,000 cats by Banfield Pet Hospital shows increases in diabetes, dental disease, flea infestations and other common health problems.

This State of Pet Health 2011 Report, was released last week by Banfield and the data was collected between 2006 and 2010 from Banfield Pet Hospital patients and is taken from more than 2.5 million health records.

The results from the Banfield Report include the following:

  • A 32% increase in diabetes between 2006 to 2010
  • A 12.3% increase in the prevalence of dental disease in dogs from 2006 to 2010.  78 percent of dogs and 68 percent of cats over age 3 presented with some form of dental disease.
  • Flea infestations are up 16%
  • Since 2006, otitis externa increased 34% in cats and 9.4% in dogs. Last year, 15.8% of dogs and 7.4% of cats were diagnosed with otitis externa.
  • A 30%  increase in hookworm prevalence in dogs and a 3.5 percent increase in cats.

“While these data were collected at Banfield Hospitals, the analysis from more than 2.5 million health records indicate some of these preventable problems are on the rise”, says Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, chief medical officer for Banfield.

“The project’s goal”, Klausner explains, “is to help the veterinary profession gain a better understanding of the state of pet health in the United States, especially in light of recent reports signaling a decline in veterinary visits.”

What remains untold in these test results is that Banfield Pet Hospitals advocates yearly vaccinations.  From their FAQ section:

“Young puppies usually need several sets of vaccination boosters (just like children) to provide them with as much protection as possible. Adult dogs that are properly vaccinated should be boostered yearly for most vaccines. Vaccination schedules vary depending on age, overall health, state regulations, vaccination type, and risk of exposure.”

There are over 770 Banfield Veterinary Hospitals with over a million pets registered for their Optimum Wellness Plan.  This likely means over a million pets vaccinated yearly when this schedule has been questioned for its lack of science and efficacy since 1978.

Leading immunologist Dr. Ronald Schultz states:

“It has been common practice since the development of canine vaccines in the late 1950’s to administer them annually. The recommendation to vaccinate annually was based on the assumption that immunity would wane in some dogs, thus to ensure immunity in the population, all dogs required revaccination since it was not practical to test each animal for antibody. Little or no research has been done to demonstrate that the practice of annual revaccination has any scientific value in providing greater immunity than would be present if an animal was never revaccinated or was revaccinated at intervals longer than one year.”

“In 1978 we recommended an ideal vaccination program would be one in which dogs and cats would be revaccinated at one year of age and then every third year thereafter. That recommendation was based on a general knowledge of vaccinal immunity, especially the importance of immunologic memory and on duration of protection after natural sub clinical or clinical infections as well as on limited studies we had performed with certain canine and feline vaccines. Since the mid 1970’s we have done a variety of studies with various canine vaccines to demonstrate their duration of immunity. From our studies it is apparent, at least to me, that the duration of immunity for the four most important canine vaccines (core vaccines) that the duration of immunity is considerably longer than one year. Furthermore, we have found that annual revaccination, with the vaccines that provide long term immunity, provides no demonstrable benefit and may increase the risk for adverse reactions.”

In the meantime, Banfield Pet Hospitals blames the increase in disease to a decrease in veterinary visits.

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