According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), more than half of dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese. That means 93 million dogs or cats are overweight or obese.
35% of dogs were found to be overweight and 20.6% obese. “While the general trend of overweight pets has remained fairly steady at around 50%, the number of obese pets is growing. This is troubling because it means more pets will be affected by weight-related diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease costing pet owners millions in avoidable medical costs,” according to APOP founder Dr. Ernie Ward.
Following in the steps of NBC’s Biggest Loser, Nestle Purina and Jenny Craig have created a new reality show, “Project: Pet Slim Down,” a new reality show starring eight overweight and obese pets. The three dogs and five cats are placed on a four-month diet and exercise program, which is documented in the show.
Preliminary data released from a nationwide collaboration with Banfield, the nation’s largest chain of veterinary clinics, reveals pet obesity continues to be a serious problem. Dr. Ward remarks, “This year’s data suggests that our pets are getting fatter. We’re seeing a greater percentage of obese pets than ever before.”
APOP’s website is a fantastic source of information, with everything from the caloric contents of various dog and cat foods and treats to the ideal weight ranges for specific breeds. According to the site, dalmatians should weight between 50-55 lbs. The site also gives helpful tips on pet dieting and exercise. Especially informative is the infromation on weight-related disease and veterinarian costs as well as shorter life span in overweight pets.
Speaking from personal experience as a dog boarder, I know how easy it is to throw our pets a treat when we’re eating, they’re begging, we’ve just come in from work and want to give them some attention, and other non-hunger related reasons! Realizing the calories in all this added food, as well as remembering the importance of exercise, is key.