Prevalence of commonly diagnosed disorders in UK dogs under primary veterinary care: results and applications

BMC Vet Res. 2021 Feb 17;17(1):69. doi: 10.1186/s12917-021-02775-3.


Background: Although dogs are a commonly owned companion animal in the UK, the species experiences many health problems that are predictable from demographic information. This study aimed to use anonymised veterinary clinical data from the VetCompass™ Programme to report the frequency of common disorders of dogs under primary veterinary care in the UK during 2016 and to explore effects associated with age, sex and neuter status.

Results: From an available population of 905,543 dogs under veterinary care at 886 veterinary clinics during 2016, the current study included a random sample of 22,333 (2.47 %) dogs from 784 clinics. Prevalence for each disorder was calculated at the most refined level of diagnostic certainty (precise-level precision) and after grouping to a more general level of diagnostic precision (grouped-level precision). The most prevalent precise-level precision disorders recorded were periodontal disease (prevalence 12.52 %, 95 % CI: 12.09-12.97), otitis externa (7.30 %, 95 % CI: 6.97-7.65) and obesity (7.07 %, 95 % CI: 6.74-7.42). The most prevalent grouped-level disorders were dental disorder (14.10 %, 95 % CI: 13.64-14.56), skin disorder (12.58 %, 95 % CI: 12.15-13.02) and enteropathy (10.43 %, 95 % CI: 10.04-10.84). Associations were identified for many common disorders with age, sex and neuter.

Conclusions: The overall findings can assist veterinarians and owners to prioritise preventive care and to understand demographic risk factors in order to facilitate earlier diagnosis of common disorders in dogs. The information on associations with age, sex and neuter status provides additional contextual background to the complexity of disorder occurrence and supports targeted health controls for demographic subsets of dogs.

Keywords: Breed; Dog; EPR; Electronic patient record; Epidemiology; Pedigree; Primary‐care; Purebred; VetCompass; Veterinary.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Castration / statistics & numerical data
  • Castration / veterinary
  • Dog Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Animal / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Factors
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology