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When Man's Best Friend is Obese

Pet Dog EatingAccording to brand new data collected by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) and Banfield Pet Hospital, the epidemic of pet obesity continues to expand.

Over half of U.S. cats and dogs are overweight. One-fifth of those are 30 percent or more above normal weight, meaning they are obese.

The main contributors to fat pets are owners who routinely overfeed and under-exercise their dog or cat. These same owners are also unaware of the debilitating and expensive-to-treat health problems brought on by overweight in pets, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Kidney failure
  • High blood pressure
  • Cancer
  • Significantly shortened life span

According to Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI), in 2010 their clients paid out $25 million in vet bills for obesity-related conditions like asthma, disc disease and ligament ruptures. Another pet health insurer, Petplan USA, considers five of the most common insurance claims they receive as problems stemming specifically from obesity.

Per WSJ.com:

“… new efforts are afoot to stem what many vets believe is the single most preventable health crisis facing the country's 171 million-plus dog and cat pets. They include software for doctors to track a pet's "Body Condition Score," a blood test that could quickly determine animals' body-fat percentage, Weight Watchers-type pet diet plans and doggie treadmills.”

Historically, veterinarians have been very hesitant to discuss a pet’s weight problem with owners who are often also overweight, and who will feel guilty when told they are overfeeding their dog or cat.

The Body Condition Score software, which will be mandated at all Banfield’s across the country, will give vets a much-needed opening to talk to owners of heavy pets about the need to get their companion’s weight under control.