More than half of the cats and dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese, with a slew of related health problems, according to a watchdog organization.
The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, or APOP, estimates that 54 percent of the pets are too fat, and are at risk for type-2 diabetes, insulin resistance, heart disease, respiratory disease, cranial cruciate ligament injuries, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and a generally shortened life expectancy.
“The most distressing finding in this year’s study was the fact that more pet owners are unaware their pet is overweight,” APOP founder Dr. Ernie Ward said in the report. Around 22 percent of dog owners and 15 percent of cat owners “characterized their pet as normal weight when it was actually overweight or obese.”
Joe Bartges of the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine says indeed this is the main problem with pet owners—they do not know what “overweight” or “obese” means or what it looks like in their pets.
In an online survey conducted by the animal obesity watchdog, only 8 percent of dog owners and 9 percent of cat owners considered their pet obese.
This means, veterinarians “must educate the owner and work with them to prevent and treat obesity in their four-legged family members,” Bartges said, according to APOP.
Neil Shaw, the chief medical officer of BluePearl, a veterinary hospital group that operates across 11 states, described the findings as “absolutely staggering” and “especially when obesity in pets can be so easily prevented.”
He stressed in the release that pet owners need to ensure their dog or cat receives an adequate amount of exercise and a healthy diet. Owners should also take their animal to see a vet at least twice per year.
Steve Budsberg, the Director of Clinical Research at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, says that “on a daily basis,” he sees the “overwhelming” adverse effects caused by obesity in cats and dogs.
“No animal goes to the refrigerator or the pantry and helps themselves. We enable our pets to get fat!” he was quoted as saying in the report.
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