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The Big Dog Health Survey sought to better understand what concerned and/or interested big dog owners most about their dog’s health.
The survey was open for two weeks and collected 166 responses via a shared link on Facebook and the link on Big Dog Mom. The results were eye opening, so thank you to those of you who contributed!
How Many Big Dogs Do You Own?
82% of respondents (122) have between 1-3 big dogs. The rest, roughly 18%, are multiple dog households with 4 or more big dogs.
With just two mastiffs, Junior and Sulley, I tend to be their source of entertainment. I would like to think when you have 4 or more big dogs they start to behave like children and they entertain each other. Otherwise, that is a lot of pressure to be engaging and fun.
Has Your Big Dog Been To A Veterinarian For An Annual Preventative Exam In The Last 12 Months?
This is great news! Having your big dog examined by a Veterinarian annually is a critical step in preventing disease. Not just from the standpoint of having them immunized or receiving their heart worm prevention medication, but I rely on my Veterinarian for advice and recommendations regarding my boy’s health. For example, during my last visit with Junior, my vet and I discussed the health testing I will be having done for him in the next 18 months – what tests he recommends, the timing, the process itself, and the costs.
In addition, I really like to be a familiar face at my Veterinarian’s clinic. I want the Techs to know me and my dogs when I call with a question. And as crazy as it sounds, I stop in once or twice a month just to say hello and get a weight check on my dogs. The weight is only a by product of the visit, not the reason for it.
What Are Your Areas Of Greatest Concern And/Or Interest As It Relates To Your Big Dog's Health?
This is the most interesting question on the survey and I greatly appreciate all those who responded to it. With all of the health-related items I included, I found it very interesting that longevity was the top concern to big dog owners. In fact, using a weighted average, nearly 50% of respondents said that longevity was of the greatest concern to them.
I am extremely heartened by this, but also filled with a sense of wonder. Are we as big dog owners doing everything we can to increase the lifespan of our big dogs? For those breeders out there, are you doing everything you can to improve the longevity in your breed? Be looking for more discussions on this topic because I think it is a very interesting question, particularly in light of how much of a concern it is to all of you!
After longevity, were bloat, nutrition and diet, arthritis, and cancer rounding out the top 5 concerns for big dog owners.
How Often In the Past 3 Months Have You Sought Advice On A Health-Related Concern For Your Big Dog?
Nearly 70% of respondents said that in the last 3 months they have sought advice at least once on a health-related concern. 16% have sought advice more than 4 times!
In analyzing these results, a missed opportunity here is understanding whether the advice sought was connected to the health related concerns from Question 3. My guess is it is not necessarily connected, but I am curious as to your thoughts. In my mind, if I had a dog with chronic ear infections, with whom I was at the Vet regularly for treatment. When asked about my top concerns as it relates to my dog wouldn’t necessarily be ear issues, but rather, diet and nutrition, as I view one contributing to the other.
From Whom Did You Seek That Advice?
I found these data interesting. Respondents in this survey were clearly seeking the advice from their Veterinarians primarily, followed by a heavy reliance on Facebook, breeders/mentors, and breed forums. I found it interesting that 37% of respondents consulted a medical journal for health-related advice at least once in the last 3 months.
And, while the blog was not used often, roughly 25% of respondents said they did consult a blog at least once for health-related advice for their big dog.
Unfortunately, these data do not help to clarify my question regarding how this relates to big dog owners top concerns (Question 3). That said, I do think this shows big dog owners’ increasing desire to understand more deeply and engage more actively on behalf of their big dogs and their health.
On A Scale From 1-5, How Satisfied Were You With The Advice You Were Given As It Relates to Your Dog's Health?
The health-related advice was generally well received by respondents. A little over 18% had a full resolution of their question or concern and about 69% reporting to be satisfied or very satisfied with the advice they were given.
I am curious if you are like me. When I have a health-related question or concern, I often seek advice from multiple sources and, because of that diversity, I am generally satisfied with the information or advice I get on average.
That said, I am like many of you. Several of my top concerns as it relates to the health of Junior and Sulley, are not always the same things I am seeking advice for on a regular basis. I am absolutely concerned about my boys’ longevity and the longevity of all big dogs, particularly giant breeds like Mastiffs, Great Danes, St. Bernards and Irish Wolfhounds just to name a few.
I am also deeply concerned about the rise in rates of cancer in our big dogs. According to PetMD, big dogs account for 8 of the 9 breeds of dog with the highest incidence of cancer. Read the article here. This is extremely concerning to me!
My guess is the satisfaction reported in these data were not a result of a question or concern about cancer or longevity, but rather a concern more easily solved.