U.S. Pet Population Gets Fatter; Owners Fail to Recognize Obesity


New Research from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention Shows a Rise of Obese Pets in 2014

Calabash, N.C. — The majority of the nation’s dogs and cats continue to be overweight, and most pet owners aren’t aware of the problem, according to new research from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). The eighth annual National Pet Obesity Prevalence Survey conducted by APOP found 58% of U.S. cats and 53% of dogs were overweight in 2014. The study also found a significant “fat pet gap,” in which 90% of owners of overweight cats and 95% of owners of overweight dogs incorrectly identified their pets as a normal weight.

“The ‘fat pet gap’ continues to challenge pet owners and veterinarians,” said Dr. Ernie Ward, veterinarian and founder of APOP. “Pet owners think their obese dog or cat is a normal weight, making confronting obesity difficult. No one wants to think their pet is overweight, and overcoming denial is our first battle.”

The researched showed an increase specifically in the obese category. In 2013, 16.7% of dogs and 27.4% of cats were classified as clinically obese (30% heavier than normal or ideal body weight). In 2014, 17.6% of dogs, and 28.1% of cats were reported obese. This shift toward increasingly obese pets has specialists worried.

Dr. Steve Budsberg, veterinary orthopedic specialist and Director of Clinical Research for the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia, agrees. “The sad truth is that most people can’t identify an obese dog or cat. Whenever their veterinarian tells them their pet needs to lose weight, they often can’t believe it because they don’t see it.”

“We’re seeing an increasing number of obese pets and the diseases that accompany excess fat,” reports Dr. Julie Churchill, veterinary nutritionist at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. “Type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, and many forms of cancer are associated with obesity in animals. It is critical pet owners understand an overweight dog or cat is not a healthy pet.”

Ward stated that obesity is the number one health threat pets face, and the most important pet health decision owners make each day is what and how much they feed. According to Ward, pet owners know being overweight is unhealthy; they just don’t know their own pet is too heavy. APOP’s goal is to educate pet owners and help veterinarians address the “fat pet gap” with their clients. By raising awareness, APOP aims to decrease the level of pet obesity in the U.S. and help pet owners make the most informed choices possible for their pet.

To learn more about the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention or the 2014 study, visit www.petobesityprevention.org.

About APOP The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) is made up of dedicated veterinarians and veterinary healthcare personnel who are committed to making the lives of dogs, cats, all other animals and people healthier and more vital. APOP was founded in 2005 by veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward, a competitive Ironman triathlete, certified personal trainer and accredited USA Triathlon coach. A key component of APOP’s mission is to develop and promote parallel weight loss programs designed to help pet owners lose weight alongside their pets. www.petobesityprevention.org www.facebook.com/PetObesityPrevention.



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