Diabetes is up 16% in cats and 32% in dogs, according to the Banfield report. Ear infections are up 34% in cats and 9% in dogs. Dental disease has risen 10% in cats and 12% in dogs.
This is confusing because, no doubt, veterinary medicine is leaps and bounds ahead of where it was even a decade ago. If a heart murmur is a concern, veterinary cardiologists can perform an ultrasound with equipment and technology identical to that used for people. Veterinary neurologists can do brain surgery; cancer treatments can extend lives. In fact, using dogs as models, human medicine has in recent years benefited from what veterinarians have learned.
So what's gone wrong?
"People simply aren't seeing their veterinarians as often, particularly for wellness exams," said Dr. Michael Moyer, president of the American Animal Hospital Assn. (AAHA). According to the AVMA, cat visits to a veterinarian have dropped a whopping 30% since 2006; dog visits are down 21%.
Some of the data offered during the press conference was astounding. It turns out that the overwhelming majority of pet owners don't value preventative care. Before seeking advice from a vet, many now go onto the Internet and may never contact a vet at all, simply accepting the advice of "Dr. Google."
In fact, according to the Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study (surveying pet owners and veterinary professionals about their views on veterinary medicine and pet health) 15% of owners said that by using the Internet, they believe they have less need to rely on a vet.