Are you prepared to recognize and care for the many common dog health problems that your pup might face? This new medical data might surprise you!

You already know preventative care is essential in maintaining your pet’s good health and well being. And that’s why you’ll want to read the first of its kind and just-released 2011 “State of Pet Health” Report from Banfield Pet Hospital.

Compiled from medical data from more than 2.1 million dogs and 450,000 cats that visited 770 Banfield Pet Hospital facilities in 43 states in 2010, the report lists the top 10 most common diagnoses in dogs and cats. Additionally, it details six specific health conditions that are increasingly affecting our pets and have a considerable impact on our pet’s overall health.

The health issues outlined in the report are below, along with notable highlights. What’s significant about these conditions is they’re preventable. With awareness of symptoms to watch for in your dog or cat, and preventative measures to discuss with your vet and put into action, you can help your pet stay healthy. Find a link to the study in its entirety below and read about symptoms, preventative treatments and a breakdown of the health concerns by a dog or cat’s age, breed and geographical location.

Dental Disease

Named the most common disease in dogs and cats, dental disease affects 78% of dogs and 68%of cats over age 3, and its prevalence is on the rise with a 12.3% increase from 2006 to 2010. Dental disease includes tartar, gingivitis, periodontal disease, and other conditions affecting the teeth and gums, and in severe cases, it can lead to bacterial infections that impact the heart, liver and other vital organs.

Prevention: Regular teeth cleaning, weekly brushing (try a piece of gauze wrapped around your fingertip if a toothbrush sounds too daunting), chew and rope toys that promote dental health and other dental cleaning options (see Woof Report’s past tip for more on the topic).

Otitis Externa

The second most common medical condition affecting dogs and cats in the study is otitis externa, or inflammation of the outer ear and ear canal; its prevalence has increased 9.4% in dogs and 34% in cats since 2006. According to the report, it’s significant because it’s common and can become a chronic condition, which is expensive to treat, and uncomfortable for your pet. Worse yet, if left untreated, the infection can spread further into the ear and eventually lead to hearing loss.

Prevention: Weekly ear cleaning (particularly for dogs that love to swim or spend time outdoors, and those with longer floppy ears) and other preventive care techniques your vet may recommend as needed.


While diabetes mellitus (type 2) was not listed in the report in the top 10 diagnoses, it is linked to obesity, a serious health concern which is in the top five diagnoses for adult, mature adult and geriatric dogs and cats. Just as diabetes is increasing in humans, Banfield hospitals saw a 32% increase in canine diabetes cases and a 16% increase in feline diabetes cases since 2006.

Prevention: Manage your pet’s healthy weight through proper nutrition and exercise (see Woof Report’s favorite site for useful info and tips for pet weight control, Also, monitor your pet’s health and see your vet regularly so he or she can detect any early signs of diabetes.

Fleas and Ticks

Fleas were among the most common parasites found in both dogs and cats in 2010, and flea infestation increased 16% in dogs and 12% in cats since 2006. Tick infestations in dogs also increased by 6% since 2006.

Prevention: Choose and regularly administer an EPA-approved spot-on treatment, chewable pills, shampoos, rinses or other treatments. In addition, check your dog for ticks when returning from the outdoors where ticks may be present.


While Southeastern states have the highest occurrence of positive heartworm tests, the disease has been diagnosed every month and in all 43 states where Banfield has a hospital, and the American Heartworm Society reports that dogs have tested positive for heartworm in all 50 U.S. states. These findings call for year-round preventatives to avoid risk of your dog contracting this deadly disease.

Prevention: Annual heartworm tests for dogs and year-round preventative medications. (A heartworm test is required prior to receiving a prescription for preventatives since the medication cannot be given to dogs that test positive).

Internal Parasites

Parasites are of concern because they can cause illness and malnutrition in pets, and they can be transmitted from pets to humans. According to the report, hookworms and whipworms have been increasing in dogs, roundworms, hookworms and whipworms have been on the increasing in cats since 2006.
Prevention: Deworming medication as needed and administered by a vet.

The Scoop:

View or download the 38-page “State of Pet Health” report its entirety.


Thank you to maskedcard on flickr for the photo of Piper.

Reviewed/Updated October 2016.