Fat Cats & Portly Pooches


Year after year, weight loss ranks as one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions that people make. The ball dropping at the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration in New York City—along with the hundreds of count-down festivities occurring all over the world—seems to cue an onslaught of advertising for the many weight-loss programs that abound in this growing market. Yet even with the never-ending stream of new diets, weight-loss books and media coverage on the subject, people continue to struggle to lose the extra pounds.

It seems pets are having the same problem.

Despite the pet food industry’s efforts to offer more nutrient-dense diets and fewer weight-gain-inducing formulas for the nation’s chunkier dogs and cats, obesity is on the rise for the fifth straight year, according to a report from Nationwide, a major provider of pet insurance.

According to the company, Nationwide members filed more than $54 million in pet insurance claims for conditions and diseases related to pet obesity, a 10 percent increase over the past two years.

The most prevalent obesity-related conditions in dogs are arthritis, holding the No. 1 spot, followed by bladder and urinary disease, and low-thyroid hormone production, says Nationwide. For cats, the most common condition is bladder and urinary disease, followed by chronic kidney disease and diabetes. And the list continues for both species, with various ailments from arthritis to heart disease and asthma.

The thing is, we can relate. People’s troubles with food, exercise and weight are not dissimilar. However, dogs and cats, for the most part, don’t feed themselves. They rely on their caregivers to provide the best dietary choices possible and in appropriate quantities. There is no doubt that the rising upswing in consumer awareness about pet obesity and the resulting health complications, driven by both the veterinary industry and the pet product manufacturing and retailing industry, will continue to drive home the message that pet parents need to be vigilant in their attempts to get this pesky—and dangerous—weight problem under control. And hopefully, we can all make it a joint effort. 


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