Background: Concerns have been raised over breed-related health issues in purebred dogs, but reliable prevalence estimates for disorders within specific breeds are sparse. Electronically stored patient health records from primary-care practice are emerging as a useful source of epidemiological data in companion animals. This study used large volumes of health data from UK primary-care practices participating in the VetCompass animal health surveillance project to evaluate in detail the disorders diagnosed in a random selection of over 50% of dogs recorded as Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (CKCSs). Confirmation of breed using available microchip and Kennel Club (KC) registration data was attempted.
Results: In total, 3624 dogs were recorded as CKCSs within the VetCompass database of which 143 (3.9%) were confirmed as KC-registered via microchip identification linkage of VetCompass to the KC database. 1875 dogs (75 KC registered and 1800 of unknown KC status, 52% of both groups) were randomly sampled for detailed clinical review. Clinical data associated with veterinary care were recorded in 1749 (93.3%) of these dogs. The most common specific disorders recorded during the study period were heart murmur (541 dogs, representing 30.9% of study group), diarrhoea of unspecified cause (193 dogs, 11.0%), dental disease (166 dogs, 9.5%), otitis externa (161, 9.2%), conjunctivitis (131, 7.4%) and anal sac infection (129, 7.4%). The five most common disorder categories were cardiac (affecting 31.7% of dogs), dermatological (22.2%), ocular (20.6%), gastrointestinal (19.3%) and dental/periodontal disorders (15.2%).
Discussion and conclusions: Study findings suggest that many of the disorders commonly affecting CKCSs are largely similar to those affecting the general dog population presented for primary veterinary care in the UK. However, cardiac disease (and MVD in particular) continues to be of particular concern in this breed.
Further work: This work highlights the value of veterinary practice based breed-specific epidemiological studies to provide targeted and evidence-based health policies. Further studies using electronic patient records in other breeds could highlight their potential disease predispositions.
Keywords: CKCS; Canine; Cavalier King Charles spaniel; EPR; Electronic patient record; Prevalence; Primary-care practice; VetCompass.