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KUSA - There has been a recent decline in the state of our pets' health. Over the past decade, there has been a steady increase in diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, obesity and fleas. The underlying cause, according to Colorado Veterinary Medical Association spokesperson Apryl Steele, is the decline in vet visits, leading to undiagnosed conditions.

Since 2001, dog vet visits have dropped 21 percent, and cat vet visits have dropped 30 percent.

The average months between vet visits for pets has gone down from 11.4 months to 16.9 months, and pet owners are increasingly comfortable with more time passing between annual or routine vet visits.

Studies show that between 25 and 40 percent of household pets are overweight or obese, leading to obesity-associated pet illnesses like diabetes, arthritis and heart disease.

Over the past decade, there has been a steady increase in diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, obesity and fleas in pets. 9NEWS at 7 a.m. 07/25/14.

An estimated 92 percent of all pets will experience some type of severe emergency situation over the course of their lifetime. About 10 percent of dogs between the ages of 5 and 8 years are affected by heart disease, most going undiagnosed for too long

The prevalence of arthritis has increased 38 percent in dogs and 67 percent in cats over the past five years.

"Outside of eating right and regular exercise, we think the most important thing a pet owner can do to keep their pets healthy is to be informed and have a relationship with their veterinarian," Steele said. "Forty-eight percent of pet owners said that they look for information online before calling a vet, and we'd like to put a stop to this! We know that no one knows your pet better than you. However, there are many conditions that only your veterinarian can spot. We are trained to detect preventable conditions at their earliest stages and monitor potential issues - allowing for simpler, more cost effective outcomes. So, before looking to PetMD, give your vet a call - it could reduce costs emotionally and financially in the long run."

Steele said just like maintaining a car or a home, staying on top of problems or preventing them from taking place is often less expensive than fixing things once they become issues.

"The average cost to treat a range of pet diseases and conditions is between two and nine times more than the cost of preventing them," Steele said. "Preventing dental disease can cost around $170. The cost to treat dental disease is five times more expensive at $530."

Steele said if people just simply cannot afford the cost of preventative pet care, there's a variety of preventative healthcare plans offered by a growing number of practices. Additional, a variety of pet insurance providers offer plans that cover accidents and illnesses.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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