RVC: New evidence for health-related welfare prioritisation of canine disorders

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Evidence-based comparison of the welfare impact of major conditions in dogs could better inform disorder priorities for improved welfare in UK dogs.

The research, carried out by the Royal Veterinary College’s (RVC) VetCompass™ programme, investigated the severity and duration of the major conditions seen in practice in addition to recording their frequency to provide an overall measure of welfare impact. The study indicates that of 8 major disorders seen by veterinary surgeons in practice, dental disease, osteoarthritis and obesity had the highest overall welfare impact on affected dogs.

The eight common conditions examined in this study were:

  • anal sac disorder,
  • conjunctivitis
  • dental disease
  • dermatitis
  • overweight/obese
  • lipoma
  • osteoarthritis
  • otitis externa.

The most common of these were  dental disorder, being overweight/obese and anal sac disorder and the ones that affected the dogs’ lives for the longest were dental disease, osteoarthritis and obesity. Conditions classified as most severe were osteoarthritis, otitis externa and dermatitis.

When the three measures of frequency, duration and severity were taken together, the conditions with the highest welfare impact overall were dental disease, osteoarthritis and obesity.

These results can aid vets to target conditions that have the greatest impact on dogs they treat. The findings can help raise awareness amongst owners of the value of addressing these important conditions to improve their animals welfare and they provide evidence-based information for other stakeholders on conditions that merit further research prioritisation.

The new study was conducted by analysing data from 455,557 dogs who presented at veterinary practices participating in VetCompass. It represents a collaboration between researchers at the RVC, Cambridge and Leeds universities. The key findings were:

  • The most common conditions were dental disorder (9.6%), overweight/obese (5.7%) and anal sac disorder (4.5%)
  • The conditions that lasted the longest were dental disorders (76% of year), osteoarthritis (82%), and overweight/obese (70%)
  • The most severe conditions were Osteoarthritis (scoring 13 of 21, higher scores indicated greater severity), otitis externa (11/21) and dermatitis demonstrated (10/21) highest overall severity scoresThe conditions with the highest overall scores were dental disease, osteoarthritis and obesity ...follow the link to read the article in full on the RVC website