Pet Obesity in the U.S. 2015
The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) has recently released the results of its latest annual pet obesity survey. Unfortunately for dogs (and cats) in the U.S., the news is not good.
According to APOP, in the U.S., 58% of all cats and 54% of all dogs are overweight or obese. For dogs, this is an increase from last year’s survey, which reported that 52.7% of U.S. dogs were overweight or obese. In aggregate, this means that there are somewhere near 45 million fat dogs in this country. That is a lot of chubby puppies, many of which will experience health problems.
In the APOP press release discussing this year’s survey, Dr. Joe Barges, Academic Director for Cornell University Veterinary Specialists and APOP Board member says that “The reality is, obesity kills.” “Numerous studies have linked obesity with type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, many forms of cancer and decreased life expectancy.”
And as I have written about in the past, the cost is not just life expectancy and quality of life. Those 45 million fat dogs will cost their owners a lot of money, both in terms of veterinarian bills and medicines, and in extra food from over feeding. My back of the envelope calculation implies that the total cost to the owners of these overweight dogs in in excess of $8 billion annually. Treatment costs for obesity related illness can easily surpass $1,000 per year, depending on the condition. This is money that could be spent elsewhere in many cases, if the dog was exercised regularly and fed properly.
Unlike in prior years, APOP has not published the details associated with this year’s survey. Typically, they will break out obese (30% overweight or more) and overweight (less than 30% overweight) percentages, and other interesting statistics. I have contacted APOP and requested this information so that I can update and compare these results to prior years. I will publish my analysis of the detailed data as soon as I receive it from APOP.
In the meantime, it is a shame that the trend is an increasing percentage of pets are fat. One would think that with the recent public discussions about the dangers of pet obesity, that we would see an improvement in these obesity rates, not a deterioration. We should be able to do better.