Prevalence, duration and risk factors for appendicular osteoarthritis in a UK dog population under primary veterinary care.

17 Jul 2018

Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disease diagnosed in veterinary medicine and poses considerable challenges to canine welfare. This study aimed to investigate prevalence, duration and risk factors of appendicular osteoarthritis in dogs under primary veterinary care in the UK. The VetCompassTM programme collects clinical data on dogs attending UK primary-care veterinary practices. The study included all VetCompassTM dogs under veterinary care during 2013. Candidate osteoarthritis cases were identified using multiple search strategies. A random subset was manually evaluated against a case definition. Of 455,557 study dogs, 16,437 candidate osteoarthritis cases were identified; 6104 (37%) were manually checked and 4196 (69% of sample) were confirmed as cases. Additional data on demography, clinical signs, duration and management were extracted for confirmed cases. Estimated annual period prevalence (accounting for subsampling) of appendicular osteoarthritis was 2.5% (CI95: 2.4-2.5%) equating to around 200,000 UK affected dogs annually. Risk factors associated with osteoarthritis diagnosis included breed (e.g. Labrador, Golden Retriever), being insured, being neutered, of higher bodyweight and being older than eight years. Duration calculation trials suggest osteoarthritis affects 11.4% of affected individuals' lifespan, providing further evidence for substantial impact of osteoarthritis on canine welfare at the individual and population level.