The fifth annual survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) has revealed that 53 percent of adult dogs and 55 percent of cats are classified as either overweight or obese by their veterinarians. The total number of American pets that fall into this category is an estimated 88.4 million.
According to APOP’s founder, Dr. Ernie Ward, the most distressing fact was that many pet owners are generally unaware that their pet is overweight or obese. Ward reported, “Twenty-two percent of dog owners and 15 percent of cat owners characterized their pet as normal weight when it was actually overweight or obese.” Ward concurs that pet obesity is not a pet problem, but a people problem since pet owners are the ones dispensing the food and treats.
In the pet product industry, companies are responding, as more natural, less caloric treats have made their way onto store shelves. PSCPets.com, for example, has developed a Weight Control for Dogs product in order to help dogs maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.
The APOP survey was conducted at 41 different veterinary clinics across the United States, with 459 dogs and 177 cats evaluated in October of 2011. Vets and vet techs evaluated pets for current weight, medical conditions, owner assessment of weight and body condition score. Over five years’ time, the results have been consistent and gradually increasing.
Culprits continue to be treats as a major contributor to the weight gain being seen in dogs and cats. In October of 2011, APOP conducted an online poll of 210 pet owners. Results revealed 93 percent of dog and cat owners give their pets treat, with 95 percent giving a commercial treat and 26 percent reporting treats being dispensed three or more times a day.
“Treats are the silent saboteur of slimming down,” Ward reported.
To learn more, visit the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention’s website at www.PetObesityPrevention.org.