In a survey from October 2013, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) found that 52.6% of dogs and 57.6% of cats are overweight or obese in the United States. The biggest concern with this issue is that 93% of dog owners and 88% of cat owners “thought their pet was in the normal weight range.” Founder of APOP and veterinarian, Ernie Ward, said pet obesity “has the greatest collective negative impact on pet health, and yet it is almost completely avoidable.”
Overweight dogs and cats are such a common site that many of us really do not know what a healthy weight pet should look like. Your pet is maintaining a healthy weight, if, when viewing from above, you can see a distinct indentation or waistline between its ribs and pelvis and you can easily feel its ribs. If your pet looks rounded when viewing from above and you feel a layer of fat over its ribs, he probably needs to lose some weight.
Keeping your pet at a healthy weight makes them less likely to experience a number of issues as they grow older. Overweight pets are far more likely to develop diabetes mellitus that may require regular monitoring of blood sugar levels and daily insulin injections. Joint problems, back pain and respiratory issues are also more common in pets that are overweight.
As health concerns become more prominent in people’s lives, it is also slowly transitioning into the lives of their pets as well. Now, 28% of dog owners and 33% of cat owners buy pet food/nutrition products related to weight/obesity for their dog or cat. As more awareness develops among pet owners, more actions will be seen to prevent pet obesity and help extend the lives of our pets.