Study of nearly 7,900 canines identifies potential for health risks or subclinical medical conditions in nearly one-third of participant dogs

FLORHAM PARK, N.J., Aug. 13, 2013 – A data review of canine patients presented for routine wellness visits over a five-year period found 31 percent of the 7,827 dogs in the study were identified as having laboratory panel abnormalities consistent with a range of conditions including endocrinopathies (e.g., diabetes mellitus), renal disease, hepatic disease, anemia or other morbidities. A similar number of dogs were found to have health risks based on the accompanying health risk assessment questionnaire.

The analysis is the largest examination of wellness data conducted to date and includes data from 264 primary-care veterinary practices across the United States. The study was conducted by Zoetis™, a former business unit of Pfizer Inc., as part of the company’s new Pet Wellness Report® (PWR), the first broadly available health risk assessment created specifically for dogs and cats.

The PWR is designed to complement a standard wellness exam and comprises of two elements: comprehensive laboratory screening tests, provided exclusively by ANTECH Diagnostics, and an online pet owner questionnaire. The results are then delivered to the veterinarian in an easy-to-understand report that is also shared with the pet owner, with the goals of facilitating client communication and education and encouraging greater pet owner engagement in the pet’s health.

The data were presented for the first time at the recent American Veterinary Medical Association meeting in Chicago by Bob Lavan, MS, DVM, MPVM, DACVPM, associate director of Outcomes Research Team at Zoetis. The presentation was part of a symposium, “Lifelong Care: Putting the Promise into Practice.”

“Veterinary care is an essential component in ensuring the health and longevity of companion animals and providing peace of mind to owners that they are taking the best care of their cherished pets,” said J. Michael McFarland, DVM, DABVP and group director of Companion Animal Veterinary Operations for Zoetis. “Through the Pet Wellness Report, we are pleased to provide a useful resource for veterinarians to better serve their clients and to enhance the bond between pet owners and their dogs and cats.”

About the Study

The PWR surveys analyzed were collected from May 17, 2007 to Dec. 29, 2012, and represented clinics from 46 states. The information collected included:

  • Demographic information including age, neutering status, large/small breed
  • Risk information such as breath odor, contact with non-household dogs and use of heartworm preventive
  • Outcomes information such as heartworm ag test results

The questionnaire was analyzed for frequency of pet owner responses as well as association analysis of related questions.

Findings on Osteoarthritis

Of pet owners responding, 26.6 percent said “yes” to the question: “Does <pet name> appear stiff or lame when rising from bed or after exercise; exhibit any signs of pain, such as reluctance to stand, climb stairs, jump or run; or have difficulty in performing any of these activities?” As expected, the number of “yes” responses increased with the age of the dog, with 45 percent of owners with dogs aged 10 through 12 years and 67 percent of owners of dogs 13 years of age or older responding in the affirmative.

Findings on Heartworm Preventive

Analysis of the questionnaire found that 10 percent of pet owners do not give heartworm preventive at all, and 30 percent indicated they had missed doses or gotten off schedule with administering the medication. Pet owners who indicated that they did not regularly examine their dogs were 68 percent more likely to have dogs that tested positive for heartworm. Pet owners who reported bringing their dogs to the veterinarian for annual wellness exams and using year-round heartworm preventive were the least likely to have positive heartworm antigen test results (2.9 percent).

Findings on Dental Care

Pet owners who indicated that they examined their dogs regularly were 45 percent more likely to get regular dental exams for their dog. Pet owners who took their dogs for yearly wellness exams were also much more likely (4.23x, or 423 percent) to get regular dental exams for their dogs.

“The Pet Wellness Report helps us give better preventive care to our patients. We find any hidden problems long before they show up on a physical exam,” said Beverly L. Shaw, DVM, of the Sunbury Animal Hospital in Sunbury, Pa. “We found a number of UTIs, as well as some kidney problems that became symptomatic quickly. We also found some low-level liver issues, most of which we are not treating at this point, but at least we know to keep an eye on them. In general, we are able to head off problems and help these pets live longer, healthier lives.”

Currently, the Pet Wellness Report is widely available through the eastern and central parts of the country and will be available to clinics nationwide by October. For more information, veterinarians may contact their Zoetis sales representative, call 1-855-PWR-PETS (797-7387), or visit

About Zoetis

Zoetis (zō-EH-tis) is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on a 60-year history as the animal health business of Pfizer, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and markets veterinary vaccines and medicines, with a focus on both farm and companion animals. In 2012, the company generated annual revenues of $4.3 billion. With approximately 9,300 employees worldwide at the beginning of 2013, Zoetis has a local presence in approximately 70 countries, including 29 manufacturing facilities in 11 countries. Its products serve veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals in 120 countries. For more information on the company, visit

Zoetis is the proud sponsor with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibitions and the American Veterinary Medical Association of the mobile educational exhibit Animal Connections: Our Journey Together. Families visiting the exhibit will explore the vast bonds between people and animals and learn about the important role veterinarians play in protecting animal and human health. 

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