New Study Reveals Pet Obesity on the Rise



Despite owners’ increased interest in pet health, pet obesity continued to increase in 2017, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP).


In addition to studying pet weight, the survey also examined pet owners’ and veterinarians’ thoughts on pet food-related issues, such as the benefits of grain and the advantages of dry versus canned foods.


“We’re continuing to see more pets diagnosed with obesity rather than overweight,” said APOP founder, veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward. “Clinical obesity results in more secondary conditions, such as arthritis, high blood pressure, kidney disease and certain forms of cancer. Pets with obesity also have reduced quality of life and shorter life expectancy.”


The APOP’s clinical survey found that 56 percent of dogs (up from 54 percent in 2016) and 60 percent of cats (up from 59 percent in 2016) qualify as overweight or obese by a veterinary professional. Based on these results, approximately 50.2 million dogs and 56.5 million cats are currently above a healthy weight.


Other key findings of the study include the following:


• According to the survey, 58 percent of owners and 54 percent of veterinary professionals said they tried to help their own pet lose weight. The most common strategies were low-calorie and weight-loss diets combined with increased exercise.


• A majority of pet owners (63 percent) and vets (76 percent) reported that pet food in 2017 was “better” than commercial pet food 10 years ago.


• Fewer pet owners (39 percent) viewed organic pet food as healthier than in 2016, but more (26 percent) veterinary professional said it was healthier compared to 15 percent in 2016.


• Both owners (53 percent) and veterinarians (69 percent) preferred dry dog food over canned or moist products.


• Owners and vets differed greatly regarding low- and no-grain diets and corn. Forty-six percent of pet parents and 21 percent of veterinary professionals rated the diets as healthier for dogs, but most (63 percent) vets did not see the diets as healthier.


To see a comprehensive list of the survey results, visit the APOP online.


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