How do North Carolina’s pets rank in health?

How do North Carolina’s pets rank in health?
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We all like to think that our pets are pretty healthy. But a recent report shows that our home state has some serious health issues affecting our animal roommates.

Every year, Banfield Pet Hospital releases an annual report detailing pet health from across the country.

Some states have very few Banfield locations but, lucky for us, North Carolina has over 150,000 pets in the Banfield system.

This means we can actually get a good look at what’s going on with our state’s dogs and cats (sorry, no ferrets were included – probably because they look like snakes with hair.).


Below are the top five diagnoses for dogs.

And since we’re not all animal doctors, I did everyone a favor and included the layman’s terms:

  1. Dental Calculus (tartar on the teeth)
  2. Overweight (chunky)
  3. Otitis Externa (chronic ear infections)
  4. Dermatitis (allergy itchies)
  5. Patellar Luxation (dislocated kneecap)

And for cats:

  1. Dental Calculus (tartar on the teeth)
  2. Overweight (chunky)
  3. Fleas (you know what this is)
  4. Otitis Externa (chronic ear infections)
  5. Upper Respiratory Virus (infection that causes sneezing and runny nose)

These diagnoses are pretty on par with the rest of the nation, with the exception of cataracts being listed in the top five ailments for dogs and gingivitis for cats.

The average lifespan of NC dogs is close to the average of 12 years with 11.9 years.

Cats have a little less time to live in NC with an average lifespan of 12.5 years out of the average of 13.

While state-wide data is interesting, I wanted to know what was going on right here in our city.

To get Charlotte-specific I talked to Dr. Ashley Gray from Animal Medical Hospital (AKA the best vet in the world and Esther’s favorite human) about her pet health observations.

Me: What is the most common ailment you see in your patients?

Dr. Gray: One of the most common ailments I see is allergies. The majority of these are due to environmental factors such as pollen, grasses and molds.

Me: What ailment have you seen increasing over the past few years?

Dr. Gray: Intestinal parasitism. With Charlotte being a very dog friendly city, people have started taking their furry friends with them. Whether it’s to a dog park or your favorite brewery, your pet is at risk for contracting parasites due to fecal-oral exposure.

(Read: They eat poop.)

Some parasites can even be contagious to humans. It’s great that our city is very dog friendly, but do your part and pick up your dog’s feces and keep pets on their monthly preventatives.

Another interesting finding from the Banfield report shows that North Carolina dogs have 74% more heartworm than the nation’s average.

Knowing the dangers of heartworm, this stat was pretty alarming.

Dr. Gray explained why it’s so widespread.

“Heartworm disease is by far the most prevalent in the South. The warm, humid temperatures make for a perfect mosquito breeding ground which then transmits heartworms to dogs.”

So that explains why roundworm, hookworm and tapeworm are all off the charts high for our state as well. We are wormy.

To end on a more positive note, I asked Dr. Gray for some advice on how to keep our pets happy and healthy. She told me, “Beyond routine physical exams, keeping your pet on a monthly parasite prevention plan will go a long way!”

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