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Reference Desk November 2011

GI Problems Common But Unreported, According to Pet Owner Survey

    Survey by Purina Veterinary Diets® Reveals Opportunities for Increased Veterinary Intervention

    ST. LOUIS, Missouri, October 31, 2011—Nearly 40 percent of dogs and cats suffered from gastrointestinal (GI) problems in the past year, demonstrating that GI problems are among the most common health issues faced by pets and owners. These statistics headline the results of a 2011 nationwide dog and cat owner survey conducted by Nestlé Purina PetCare on the incidence and significance of GI issues in their pets.
    “Prior to surveying pet owners, we knew that GI problems were common in pets, based on what we hear from veterinarians and what we know about the use of therapeutic diets and supplements for GI problems,” said Grace Long, DVM, MS, MBA, director, veterinary technical marketing for Purina Veterinary Diets. “However, we were surprised that more than a third of pets experienced one or more GI problems within the span of a year.”

    The two-part survey was designed to gain a better understanding of the nature, frequency, and environmental factors involved in pets’ GI issues, as well as the potential for veterinarians to provide solutions. A total of 1585 dog and cat owners who visit a veterinarian at least once a year were queried in the two-part survey. The initial phase, conducted with 1025 owners, examined the incidence and frequency of GI conditions such as vomiting, diarrhea, inappetence, and excessive gas. In a second phase, an additional 560 owners of symptomatic pets were added to the sample to create an index of causative factors and to understand the owners’ level of concern about the issues and actions taken to resolve them.
    In the majority of cases, pet owners stated they did not communicate with a veterinarian about their pet’s GI problems. However, when they did seek veterinary care, they were more satisfied than they were with the results achieved through self-care alone.
    Vomiting and diarrhea topped the list of GI problems cited by pet owners, followed by excessive gas in dogs and inappetence in cats. Inappetence was the most concerning problem overall to owners and the condition they were most likely to bring to a veterinarian’s attention. Excessive gas in dogs was the most frequently occurring problem; one in ten dogs had excessive gas and, of these, almost one in four experienced it almost every day. Owners, however, were less likely to bring this concern to the attention of a veterinarian.
    “The truth is that veterinarians are only hearing about a fraction of the GI incidents that occur,” said Long. “While it’s understandable that owners may choose to wait out certain problems if they appear minor, we also know that even short-lived suffering from conditions such as stress diarrhea can be reduced with veterinary intervention.” Long noted that owners are open to solutions available from veterinarians, including products they can keep on hand for acute situations, such as diarrhea and vomiting. “The key is asking the right questions during annual exams to identify the pet’s history of, and potential for, such events. In the end, it will enable us to help more pets.”
    About Nestlé Purina
    One of the leading global players in the pet food industry, Nestlé Purina PetCare produces Purina Veterinary Diets® nutritional aids formulated for the dietary management of dogs and cats with certain health problems. Each diet provides a proper balance of total nutrients while meeting special dietary needs. They are available exclusively throughveterinarians.

    Source: Nestlé Purina


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