2012 National Pet Obesity Survey Results | Pet Obesity Prevention

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Dr Ernie Ward and the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention published their annual survey data yesterday.  Let me say up front, a big thank you for doing this and raising awareness to this problem! As you can imagine, the news is not good.
You can read all of the details of this years survey here:

2012 National Pet Obesity Survey Results | Pet Obesity Prevention

Of small consolation to dog owners is that compared to cats, dogs actually ‘had a better year’.  While the percentage of overweight or obese dogs was essentially unchanged, from 53% in 2011 to 52.5% in 2012, the percentage of  overweight or obese cats actually increased from 55% in 2011 to 58.3% in 2012.    While the overall statistics are still dreadful, there are other glimmers of hope in the data for dogs as well.  Here is a comparison of this year and last year’s survey results. (Note: I did not find the source that was used to estimate the total number of dogs in U.S. which, according to the survey, was down by 8 million in 2012.)

APOP Survey Data Year
In millions 2011 2012
Number of Dogs in US 78 70
Overweight or obese 41.1 36.7
Overweight 24.4 25.7
Obese 16.7 11.0
% All Dogs
Overweight or obese 53.0% 52.5%
Overweight 31.5% 36.8%
Obese 21.5% 15.7%
Sample Size (dogs) 459 1,485
Clinics participating in survey 41 121

On the positive side:

  • The overall percentage of overweight/obese dogs is down slightly.
  • It appears from the data that some of the obese dogs from last year may now have moved up to being overweight, which is a step in the right direction.
    • The percentage of obese dogs went down by 5.8 % while the percentage of overweight dogs went up by 5.3 %
  • The number of dogs and clinics participating in the survey both ~ tripled which suggests that more veterinarians are aware and starting to focus on this problem.  I hope we see the same trend next year!


I realize that some of you may feel like this has nothing to do with your dog.  After all, he/she isn’t fat!  Well please look again.  According to the survey, 45.8% of dog owners incorrectly identified their overweight or obese dogs as “normal weight” when asked by their veterinary clinic to assess their pet’s current body condition (pet owner’s choices were too thin, normal, overweight, obese).  This ‘fat gap’ is partially responsible for the situation we are in– if we don’t think we have a problem then there is no chance we will try to fix it.  Don’t be “that guy/gal”!

Dr Ward sums it up best in his quote which is copied below (italics mine).  Please all of us, let’s pay attention and fix this problem. We can help our dogs live longer, healthier, and happier lives and save a lot of money that we would otherwise be spending on excess food, vet visits, medicines, and surgeries.

“This is a war veterinarians, pet owners and parents must win. Obesity is the number one preventable medical condition seen in veterinary hospitals today and is the fastest growing health threat of our nation’s children. Our goal is to help pets and people live longer, healthier, and pain-free lives by maintaining a healthy weight, proper nutrition, and physical activity. The most important decision a pet owner makes each day is what they choose to feed their pet. Choose wisely. Your pet’s life depends on it.”

~ Dr. Ernie Ward, founder of Association for Pet Obesity Prevention ~

How do you feel about the results of this year’s survey? What are YOU doing to make sure your pet isn’t part of these statistics?

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  1. It’s true that people’s eyes adjust to expect fat pets. One of the people who was considering my last foster dog, Layla, ultimately decided not to adopt her because she was too skinny (if you remember the pictures, she was perfectly fit).

    She was looking for a dog more like her daughter’s roly poly beagle. Unfortunately, the dogs are the ones who pay the price.
    Pamela recently posted…9 Questions You Should Never Ask a Sarcastic DogMy Profile

    • Such a great point Pamela. I never thought of it like that as far as ‘adjusting’ to the new normal.

      In this case, the stats don’t lie. We have a problem with pet weight control. It is expensive, it costs a lot of money, and it reduces the quality of life and life span of our pets.

      We need to take it seriously and readjust our definition of normal!

  2. Our veterinarian says that pet obesity is one of the top conditions she sees, however a large number of pet parents aren’t motivated to do anything about it. Hopefully you and I can help motivate them!
    Peggy Frezon recently posted…Brooks’ Books- Once Upon a FlockMy Profile

  3. […] I often wonder why we have such a massive canine/pet obesity problem in this country. […]

  4. […] this is not good for the dog’s weight and they will grow fatter over time.  A pretty common occurrence based on the APOP stats!  Now let’s look at the financial cost of feeding this extra food.  Please take a seat […]

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