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Dog and cat obesity is on the rise

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Some small studies have hinted that about 40 percent of America’s dogs and cats were overweight and obese. But a large-scale study conducted in October 2008 shows that things are even worse than had been suspected, according to Ernie Ward, DVM, founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.

The second annual study found that 44 percent of dogs were overweight, including 10 percent that were obese. Things were worse for cats. “That is what we were fearful of,” Ward said. He said 57 percent of cats were overweight, including 17 percent falling into the obese category. The results come from a study using data collected by 95 U.S. vet clinics in which weight data was collected on 870 animals.  

Ward, who practices in Calabash, N.C., said the population was representative of the veterinary patient population: two-thirds dogs and one-third cats. The pets’ weight was ranked based on ideal ranges. “We now have the most accurate and up-to-date snapshot of the pet obesity problem in this country,” said Ward.

Ward said many vets have been hesitant to bring up obesity. “They thought their clients would be offended – that they didn’t perceive there was a problem,” he said. He said his research shows that clients correctly perceive that their dogs and cats are obese. “The reality is that the clients get it,” he said. “And they’re looking for help. Unfortunately sometimes, their veterinarian is not giving them that assistance.”

For more on obesity in pets, visit the Web site for the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.


Credit: Reviewed by Amy I. Attas, V.M.D.
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