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.