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The Biggest Health Threat to Our Pets

The Biggest Health Threat to Our Pets

Pet obesity rates are on the rise, and cats are struggling the most, according to a new survey. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) survey found veterinarians deemed 52.5 percent of dogs and 58.3 percent of cats to be overweight or obese.

Given the fact that human obesity rates are so high, it’s not surprising that our pets are battling the same problem. They depend on us to provide them with a proper diet and enough exercise, but if we’re not making good decisions for ourselves, why would we for our pets?

If the survey, which included 121 vets, 1,485 dogs and 450 cats, is a fair representation of the total pet population, that comes to a whopping 80 million unhealthy dogs and cats in the US.

The human-pet health crisis parallels are striking in their similarities, particularly with regard to obesity-related diseases.

“Pet obesity remains the leading health threat to our nation’s pets,” says Dr. Ernie Ward, founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) and lead veterinarian for the survey. “We continue to see an escalation in the number of overweight cats and an explosion in the number of type 2 diabetes cases.”

In order to remedy a problem, you have to realize there is a problem in the first place. One of the main reasons for pet obesity is that owners don’t realize their cat or dog is actually struggling with their weight.

“In this survey, approximately 45 percent of cat and dog owners assessed their pet as having a normal body weight when the veterinarian assessed the pet to be overweight,” says Dr. Joe Bartges, veterinary nutritionist and internal medicine specialist at the University of Tennessee’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Some breeds stood out as having a higher risk for obesity: the veterinarians in the survey classified 58.9 percent of Labrador retrievers and 62.7 percent of golden retrievers as overweight or obese. The fittest pure breed dog in the survey? German shepherds, with just of 2.1 percent classified as obese or overweight.


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Jason Knapfel is Co-Founder of, a growing resource for all things related to the beloved animals that we share our homes with.


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3:56AM PDT on Jul 6, 2013

thank you for sharing thr interesting article 6/7

4:40AM PDT on May 3, 2013

My cat is 14 years old.He isn't overweight and with getting older exercise less. Now he prefers sleeping all the time. When he was young I mostly fed him with fish which isn't recommended by vets. Now the main food for him is meat or chicken. 40-50 gr of roasted chicken twice a day (in the morning and in the evening) plus some vegetables he likes (cucumber, pumpkin) though vets advice boiled cereals (except millet) to stimulate digestion. Meat ration recommended by vets is 5-10 gr per 1 kg of cat's body weight a day plus boiled cereals (except millet).

4:39AM PDT on Apr 27, 2013

thanks for sharing

3:44AM PDT on Mar 30, 2013

We have 5 cats and only one of them is overweight. She is 15 years old, and she really doesn't eat that much!
She isn't interested in playing with any of the cat toys.
I guess I could chase her around the house to get her to move more, but she has arthritis, so I don't think that is a good idea.

5:38PM PDT on Mar 23, 2013

Exercise! spend that quality time with your pet take a walk or run, even your car can use some serious exercise with you.

4:01AM PDT on Mar 22, 2013

Great info,thank you.

7:24PM PDT on Mar 21, 2013

sad :/

8:46AM PDT on Mar 21, 2013

very interesting

3:44AM PDT on Mar 21, 2013

Thanks for sharing

3:30AM PDT on Mar 17, 2013

Let's be honest, we overfeed our pets because it makes us feel good, even though we know it's not good for them.
I put my dog on a diet and upped his exercise and the results were remarkable. Before, he had a luxating patella (knee slipping out of its joint socket) that caused him pain, plus awful arthritis. Now he is so much healthier and happier, and both his medical conditions have improved drastically. It's still hard to resist those melting brown eyes, but it's worth it.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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