Published: 10 Apr 2018 | Last Updated: 10 Apr 2018 15:25:36

Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disease diagnosed in dogs and poses considerable welfare challenges. The condition is progressive and leads to impaired joint function and pain. The VetCompass™ Programme at the RVC collates de-identified EPR data from first opinion veterinary practices in the UK for research to improve animal welfare.  

A new VetCompass™ study is the largest study of osteoarthritis in dogs under veterinary care ever conducted and covered 455,557 dogs. The results showed that 2.5% of dogs were recorded with osteoarthritis during 2013, equating to around 200,000 UK affected dogs annually. Compared with crossbreds, certain breeds were particularly predisposed, especially the Rottweiler (odds ratio [OR] 3.1), Dogue de Bordeaux (OR 2.8) and Old English Sheepdog (OR 2.8). The Border Collie, Bull Mastiff, German Pointer, German Shepherd Dog, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Scottish Collie and Springer Spaniel were also predisposed. Dogs that were above average weight had 2.3 times increased odds. Osteoarthritis is a disease of aging in dogs with an average age of 10.5 years at first diagnosis. Seventy-five percent of cases were recommended pain relief.

Dr Dan O’Neill, RVC Senior Lecturer and co-author said that ‘breed predisposition to disease is now recognised as one of the biggest problems facing dogs. Huge studies such as this are giving us novel insights that have been impossible before VetCompass and are supporting positive change in dog welfare.’   

The full paper is available free in Open Access at: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-23940-z

Anderson KL, O'Neill DG, Brodbelt DC, Church DB, Meeson RL, Sargan D, et al.: Prevalence, duration and risk factors for appendicular osteoarthritis in a UK dog population under primary veterinary care. Scientific Reports 2018,8(1):5641.

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