Pet Obesity Awareness: Some Statistics

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October is Pet Obesity Awareness month, and October 7, 2015 is Pet Obesity Awareness day, and it is the perfect time to review some of the key statistics and information related to pet obesity. I would argue that the single most impactful thing that pet owners can do to improve the health of their pet is to feed their pet smarter. Too much food and too little exercise leads to obesity and a plethora of weight related ailments.


Obesity is a major problem in the U.S., with near 70% of the adult population reportedly overweight or obese according to the CDC. Unfortunately, our pets are following our lead in this regard. According to the research conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) and reported earlier in 2015, 53% of all dogs and 58% of all cats are overweight or obese. In terms of the total number of fat pets, there are near 44 million fat dogs and 55 million fat cats in the U.S. This is completely unacceptable because the human pet parent is in control of their pet’s diet and they should be able to do a better job feeding their pets. With apologies to Dee Snider of Twisted Sister, “if that’s our best, our best won’t do!”


While the public awareness of this problem has increased since APOP began reporting their research in 2012 (for 2011), the overall trends toward fat pets has not improved much at all. For comparison, in 2011, 53% of dogs and 55% of cats were overweight or obese.


Although pet owners are more aware of the problem, the problem is not getting better, in part due to what APOP calls the “fat gap”. The fat gap is defined as the percentage of pet owners who have overweight pets that did not believe that their pet was in fact, overweight. In the most recent data, a full 95% of dog owners with fat dogs and 90% of cat owners with fat cats thought that their pets were at an acceptable weight.   Such denial is no doubt a big reason why the pet obesity problem has persisted.


APOP Fat Gap 2013 2014
Dogs 93% 95%
Cats 88% 90%
Percentage of pet owners thinking their overweight pet was not fat.


Applying these ‘denial’ numbers to our totals, we find that about 40 million overweight dogs and 50 million overweight cats have owners that are unaware that there is a problem. We can do better than that.


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  1. You guys are at the front of fighting the good fight. And while those numbers are staggering, I do think efforts at education are paying off. More people are becoming educated about pet nutrition and realizing the overwhelming benefits of having a slim doggy.

  2. Exercise has so many benefits for pets and their humans!! The more people learn about this the better.
    Julie recently posted…Talk to us BeanMy Profile

  3. I read a study that dog walking was a better exercise than going to the gym. And it is a lot more fun.
    jan recently posted…The strange battle over Sam Simon’s will and $138,000 to care for his dogMy Profile

  4. Those percentages are shocking and although I’ve read this before, it still astounds me. I’m disappointed in the weight I’ve allowed myself to gain after we lost Blue. Depression is a killer. The work I’ve done to learn about my dogs’ nutrition inspired me to take a look at my own, which turned out to be the answer to weight loss. The improvements were immediate and I couldn’t help but wonder – if I feel this great, how would our dogs feel.

    I have a post coming up on Friday, but to give you an idea of the improvements in my own health, here is a list of what I’ve experienced this year:

    my migraines went away
    my hot flashes went away
    my bursitis went away
    people started noticing my weight loss
    I had more energy
    I had more focus
    I had fewer cravings
    I had fewer mood swings and PMS symptoms
    I slept better
    If I get sick, it doesn’t last long (a couple days, instead of a week)

    If I can feel this way by eating healthier, moving more, and drinking more water – imagine what our dogs would feel if they were fed a healthier diet and exercised more. Wow!
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…Which Natural Dog Shampoo is the Best?My Profile

  5. I see the same overweight pets being walked by their owners (usually not in great shape themselves) for years with no change. I often wonder if people think their dogs need to be fed more because they ARE being walked? It makes me sad to see these overweight dogs who waddle along, panting especially hard in the summer because of the heat AND the extra weight they have to carry. I’d be curious to know what people of overweight dogs are thinking.
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  6. Working at a doggie daycare/groomer you see some really sad cases of pet obesity. It’s really sad. Great post!!
    Golden Daily Scoop recently posted…Grandma Lucy’s Organic Pumpkin Dog TreatsMy Profile

  7. It’s so hard to not to get really pissed off when I hear some owner talking about their pet “just loves those treats” when they’re clearly adding to the problem, and it’s usually sort of laughed off as a joke. There’s nothing cute about having your pet be obese, and hopefully we’ll actually start to take it seriously one of these days – especially with sites like yours that point out all of the issues obesity brings with it.
    Jen Gabbard recently posted…8 Easy Ways to Dress Your Dog For HalloweenMy Profile

  8. It’s hard for people to see their pets are fat because their eyes are adjusted to it thanks to seeing so many other overweight pets. Just like our eyes start thinking of a model with an 18 inch thigh as being normal because we see so much of that.

    Perhaps you want to encourage people to go boating with their dogs. There’s nothing like lifting a 50 pound dog up and down 5 ladder steps a day to make you pay attention to their weight. And my gams are looking amazing. 🙂
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  9. We have made some serious changes around here and it is really making a difference in all of our health.
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Every Bite You TakeMy Profile

  10. It’s so sad that we are literally killing our pets with food. I think there are almost as many pet food commercials on TV as the number of commercials for humans. We are bombarded with these ads whose intention is to make pet parents feel like we are depriving our dogs and cats if we don’t add their product to our pets’ diets. Keep up the good work sharing these stats. Will share.
    Sharon Seltzer recently posted…2016 Calendar Dog Travels 2,400 Miles To New HomeMy Profile

  11. It’s hard to believe but about 10 years ago, my parents had a vet that praised the “nice pad of fat” on their overweight lab as he ran his hands down her side. This particular vet happened to be overweight himself, but it still shocked me that he would say that as if it was a good thing.
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  12. It is just so sad, but fat people, fat pets, fat everything is just becoming the norm. Not a good thing.
    Emma recently posted…A Wild AnimalMy Profile

  13. We are what we eat! The same goes for our pets. I have such a concern for Harley since he’s getting older. I want him to live FOREVER and if making his health a priority along with my own can give us more time together – what could be more of an incentive? Thanks Slim
    Groovy Goldendoodles recently posted…WHAT IS KARMA?My Profile

    • Makes it easier when the whole household is on the same healthy program!
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  14. That gap is true for humans about themselves too! As for dogs, my vet is so funny when one of our dogs has gained a pound or two. She seems so worried about insulting us that she takes about 10 minutes to deliver her advice to have them drop the weight. I always laugh and tell her that we\\\’re not insulted. We like honesty and we want healthy dogs. 🙂

  15. Excellent music video choice!! People really need to put their feet down and stop the overfeeding/under-exercising craziness.
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…Comment on Four Places German Dogs Are Allowed where American K9s Aren’t! by K9sOverCoffeeMy Profile

  16. Whenever I see an overweight biped, 99.9% of the time the pet is overweight too. The easiest and simplest way to take care of that is (1) eat less & (2) move more. It’s so simple it defies logic but doubling my own number of steps per day resulted in the loss of 19lbs. over the past year and underscores that this strategy works. Sam is happier because I’m happier and our pets mirror us in loads of ways…both physically and emotionally. 😉
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  17. The statistics are so disheartening! Many people just really don’t see it when they look at their dogs? And if they don’t give their dogs exercise, they give them attention by feeding them instead…thinking that is what makes them happy.
    Sure, dogs love to eat, don’t we all? But there are a lot of other things they enjoy as well, like playing and exercising. That’s what people need to realize!
    Jan K recently posted…Who Needs Thumbs? Black & White SundayMy Profile

  18. Gads those statistics! Thanks for all that you do to educate us.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Preacher And The Pigeon For Some FitnessMy Profile

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