Pet Obesity

Pet Obesity – Veterinary Clinic Miami – Paws and Claws Medical Center

Obesity in Pets: A Catastrophe of Epidemic Proportions?

About Fifty-five Percent of dogs and cats in the United States are considered Overweight.

The sixth annual National Pet Obesity Awareness Day Survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) found 52.5 percent of dogs and 58.3 percent of cats to be overweight or obese by their veterinarian. That equals approximately 80 million U.S. dogs and cats at increased risk for weight-related disorders such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, hypertension and some cancers.

The main reasons for obesity in pets are over eating and lack of physical exercise. Modern day pet foods are a higher quality food, and some pets are prone to gorging themselves to the limit of their stomach capacity; and some owners do not realize that offering unlimited amounts of food to their pets can carry extremely dangerous consequences. Pets confined to a house or yard, or who are not regularly walked or played with, are more prone to suffer from obesity.

Diabetes is the close relative of obesity and there are a large number of overweight cats and dogs facing the consequences of diabetes. The best measure that can be taken to avoid Diabetes is to maintain a healthy body weight. This is far easier to maintain than it is to treat; especially when a pet is overweight, in pets that need insulin injections twice a day, procedure that can be unpleasant and difficult to perform by some pet owners.

Approximately 45 percent of cat and dog owners believed their pets to have a normal body weight when the veterinarian assessed the pet to be overweight. A phenomenon of incorrectly evaluating an overweight pet as normal, is being called “the fat gap”.

Certain breeds showed greater risk for excess weight. Veterinary healthcare providers classified 58.9 percent of Labrador Retrievers and 62.7 percent of Golden Retrievers surveyed as overweight or obese.

Primary Risks of Excess Weight in Pets

Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes
High Blood Pressure
Heart and Respiratory Disease
Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury
Kidney Disease
Many Forms of Cancer
Decreased life expectancy (up to 2.5 years)

“In simplest terms, we’ve made fat pets the new normal,” said the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention director. “This is the sentinel for childhood obesity. When I see dogs who are overweight, I see a child that’s at risk for excess weight, because nobody’s exercising. The kid’s playing video games all day, the dog sits around all day,” and “everybody’s eating poorly. “This is a war veterinarians, pet owners and parents must win. Obesity is the number one preventable medical condition seen in veterinary hospitals today and is the fastest growing health threat of our nation’s children. Our goal is to help pets and people live longer, healthier, and pain-free lives by maintaining a healthy weight, proper nutrition, and physical activity. The most important decision a pet owner makes each day is what they choose to feed their pet. Choose wisely. Your pet’s life depends on it.” (Dr. Ernie Ward, founder of Association for Pet Obesity Prevention)

How much obesity has to be created in a single decade for people to realize that diet has to be responsible for it?