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Assessing obesity in adult dogs and cats presenting for routine vaccination appointments in the North Island of New Zealand using electronic medical records data

Authors: Walker JK, Zito S, Dale A, Gates MC, Harvey LC
Publication: New Zealand Veterinary Journal, Volume 67, Issue 3, pp 126-133, May 2019
Publisher: Taylor and Francis

Article class: Scientific Article
Abstract:

Aims: To assess the prevalence of obesity in adult dogs and cats presented to first-opinion veterinary clinics in the North Island of New Zealand for routine vaccination appointments, using electronic medical records.

Methods: Ten first-opinion veterinary clinics across the North Island of New Zealand provided electronic medical records for all routine vaccination appointments for adult (>1 year old) dogs and cats between 1 January 2011 and 30 June 2016. Animals with a body condition score (BCS) of 6 or 7 on a 9-point scale and 4 on a 5-point scale were classified as overweight; those with a BCS of 8 or 9 on a 9-point scale and 5 on a 5-point scale were classified as obese. A total of 106,144 records were available over the study period, of which 48,041 (45.2%) had both a recorded weight and BCS.

Results: Of the 24,247 records for dogs with both BCS and weight, 6,324 (26.1%) were classified as overweight, and 551 (2.3%) as obese. The prevalence of dogs classified as overweight or obese was highest in dogs aged between 5–13 years. The odds of desexed dogs being classified as overweight or obese was greater than the odds for intact dogs (OR=1.42 (95% CI=1.29–1.57), p<0.001) adjusting for the effects of age. Of the 23,794 records for cats with a recorded weight and BCS, 5,222 (21.9%) were classified as overweight, and 622 (2.6%) as obese. The prevalence of cats classified as overweight or obese was highest in cats aged between 5–11 years. The odds of desexed cats being classified as overweight or obese tended to be greater than the odds for intact cats (OR=1.14 (95% CI=0.98–1.31); p=0.075), adjusting for the effects of age.

Conclusions: Although there are limitations with using electronic medical records to estimate the prevalence of obesity in companion animal populations, the results highlight that a significant number of animals presenting for routine vaccination appointments were classified as overweight or obese.

Clinical Relevance: It is important for veterinarians to record both patient body condition and weight during routine preventative care appointments to allow accurate ongoing monitoring of trends in obesity at both the patient and population levels.

Abbreviations: BCS: Body condition score


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