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Compendium March 2007 (Vol 29, No 3)

Abstract Thoughts—Diseases in Dogs and Cats Receiving Special Diets and Supplements

by Joseph Harari, MS, DVM, DACVS

    Freeman, LM, Abood SK, Fascetti AJ, et al: Disease prevalence among dogs and cats in the United States and Australia and proportions of dogs and cats that receive therapeutic diets or dietary supplements. JAVMA 229:531-534, 2006.

    Abstract: In this study conducted via a telephone survey, households in the United States and Australia were contacted regarding the health status of their dogs and cats and the proportions of animals receiving dietary supplements or therapeutic diets. Of approximately 18,000 telephone calls made, approximately 1,000 pet owners agreed to participate, and information was collected for 635 dogs and 469 cats.

    Only 1% of the owners thought their pet was unhealthy, although 16% reported that their pet had one or more diseases. The most common health conditions were musculoskeletal, dental, gastrointestinal, and hepatic diseases. The least common disorders were respiratory and behavioral conditions as well as obesity. Nearly one-third of the respondents described their pet as overweight. Approximately 2.5% of owners were feeding their pet a therapeutic diet (most commonly a renal disease, reduced-calorie, or reduced-fat diet). Nearly 10% of owners reported administering dietary supplements (most commonly multivitamins, chondroprotective agents, or fatty acids) to their pet.

    The authors concluded that disease prevalence based on owner assessment was quite low in this study population. Furthermore, the use of therapeutic diets and dietary supplements was lower than expected. The limitations of using a telephone survey were acknowledged by the researchers.

    Commentary: Although limited by the research methodology, the data in this study provide interesting information for practitioners and pet food and dietary supplement manufacturers. It probably confirms for practicing veterinarians that telephone calls from clients can often produce more confusion than clarity. It is surprising that owners describe more "diseases" than "healthy" animals and that two highly publicized conditions (i.e., obesity, behavioral problems) received the lowest rankings of prevalence. It is also interesting that nutritional diets and supplements, both high-profile products, were being used less than expected by pet owners. The authors document differences between this general study and data obtained from veterinary practices-the latter contains a more defined population base. This study was supported by Nestlé Purina PetCare Research.

    Adverse Events 3 Days After Vaccine Administration in Dogs

    Moore GE, Guptill LF, Ward MP, et al: Adverse events diagnosed within 3 days of vaccine administration in dogs. JAVMA 227:1102-1108, 2005.

    To estimate the incidence and risk factors for vaccine-associated adverse events (VAAEs), a large electronic database of medical records from 360 veterinary hospitals was searched for VAAEs occurring within 3 days of vaccination. Birth date, breed, gender, neuter status, weight, date and type of vaccination, and VAAEs (via diagnostic codes) were evaluated.

    In a period of 2 years, 1,226,159 dogs received 3,439,576 vaccine doses; 4,678 dogs (excluding dogs given heartworm preventative and vaccines) had VAAEs within 3 days (most on day 1). VAAE rates decreased significantly as body weight increased, increased with age until 1.5 to 2.5 years and then decreased, increased as the number of vaccines given per office visit increased, increased for neutered versus intact dogs, and varied according to breed (highest: dachshunds; lowest: mixed breeds) and vaccine type. In a random sample of 400 of these dogs analyzed for VAAE-related clinical signs and treatments, the predominant clinical signs were facial/periorbital edema, wheals/urticaria, generalized pruritus, and vomiting; these VAAEs were not life threatening.

    Key Findings:

    • Young adult, small-breed neutered dogs receiving multiple vaccines per office visit had the highest risk for VAAEs within 3 days.
    • Veterinarians might consider lowering the number of vaccines given simultaneously to small dogs.
    • Research is warranted to characterize primary allergenic components in vaccines.
    NEXT: Clinical Snapshot (March 2007)


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