While many of us are attempting to shed some pounds this year, it’s apparent we’re not doing so well helping our furry friends do the same. A recent survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) revealed that more than half (54 percent) of all pets in the U.S. are overweight or obese. While this may shock many TAILS readers, it doesn’t shock veterinarians who see these overweight pets every day and deal with the resulting health problems.
“The most distressing finding in this year’s study was the fact that more pet [parents] are unaware their pet is overweight.” comments APOP founder Dr. Ernie Ward. “22 percent of dog [parents] and 15 percent of cat [parents] characterized their pet as normal weight when it was actually overweight or obese. This is what I refer to as the ’fat pet gap‘ or the normalization of obesity by pet parents. In simplest terms, we’ve made fat pets the new normal (PetObesityPrevention.com, 2012).”
What most pet parents don’t realize is the true cost of the obesity. By feeding pets too much food, high-calorie food or just plain bad-for-them food we are setting them up for a host of preventable diseases and medical conditions like type II diabetes, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, kidney problems and shortened life expectancy. So, not only is veterinary health care more costly, but you could potentially lose quality time with your pet!
There are things that can be done to help your pet children. A good, quality food is one way to help provide the right nutrients. Another is exercise—the same things people need to get and remain healthy. Check out our post from earlier in the year about a pet weight loss challenge for some ideas.
It’s up to us to help our pets stay healthy and while it can seem overwhelming, small steps yield big results!