The High Cost of Having an Overweight Dog
We are killing our dogs and paying tons of money to do so.
Yes, you read that right. Are you willing to gamble with your pet’s longevity and health by allowing them to be overweight?
Having an overweight dog is costly:
- To the dog’s lifespan: lean dogs will live on average almost two years longer than their fat litter mates. You can read about the landmark study here.
- To the dog’s quality of life: fit and trim dogs will lead a more active life, and have less pain and disease.
- To the owner’s wallet: owners of fat pets are spending a lot of money that they might otherwise not spend if their pet was fit and trim. In the U.S. alone, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention , there are about 37 million overweight dogs. We estimate that the owners of these overweight dogs are spending somewhere near $8 billion dollars each year, on extra food, medical care, and medicines, all because they have fat pets. For context, a stack of 1 billion $1 dollar bills would measure about 68 miles high. A stack of 8 billion dollars would reach 550 miles long, approximately the driving distance from New York City to Fort Bragg North Carolina!
Pet Obesity is a Human Problem
Pet obesity is actually a human problem, not a pet problem. Most dogs that I know do not have opposable thumbs to open the fridge and serve themselves. Nor do they go shopping for their own food. It is the human who controls the quantity and quality of their food. We are the stewards of our pet’s health and collectively, we are failing them. Obesity is arguably the biggest health threat to our pets. Yet, pet obesity is entirely, and easily preventable in most cases. Too many dog owners equate food to love. Too many dog owners don’t take the time to learn about proper servings, food quality, and proper exercise. Still, the health related problems associated with an overweight dog are too serious to ignore.
Health related problems associated with an overweight dog
There are many health issues that are correlated with overweight pets. These include:
- Shorter life spans
- Arthritis and other orthopedic problems and the associated pain that comes from these conditions
- High blood pressure and cardiovascular disease
- Some forms of cancer
- Kidney disease
That is a scary list, and I don’t know a single pet owner who would feel good about themselves if they were to unwittingly facilitate the development of these and other conditions by letting their pet become overweight.
Financial cost of having an overweight pet
Having an overweight pet can also cost a lot of money. Just as heart disease and other health problems are more common in people who are overweight or obese, these diseases are also more common in overweight pets. The extra cost of veterinary care, medications, and of course, pet food for an overweight pet can add up quickly.For example:
According to Petcarerx.com, the cost of a vet appointment and physical examination, which can vary widely depending on your geographic location and your veterinarian, averages $45-$55 and more for the visit (not including treatments).
A New York Times article reports that the treatment for arthritis and cruciate ligament tears, which can be caused by the strain of an overweight and out-of-shape frame, especially in dogs, cost pet owners an average of $2,000 and higher.
Medicine costs can range between $15-$200 and higher. One common drug used to treat arthritis symptoms is Rimadyl. Rimadyl, a commonly prescribed pain and anti-inflammatory NSAID, can cost $50 per month for a 50 lb. dog assuming the standard dosage of 2 mgs per day per lb of bodyweight.
The average annual cost of veterinary care for a diabetic dog or cat in 2011 was more than $900, according to Petplan USA, a pet insurance company.
The fact that more than half of all dogs in the US are overweight or obese means that we are overfeeding. This also costs money. A dog that is 10 lbs overweight is being fed, on average, around 70 extra cans of food each year (assuming an average can size of 13 ounces and that the calorie content is 300 per cup). This can translate to $70-$200 per year depending on the food brand that is being used.
Adding these all up, it is easy to see how an overweight dog can mean an ‘underweight wallet’! Understanding the huge costs of having an overweight dog is only the first step in keeping your dog fit and healthy. Dog owners need to change the way they think about their pet’s body condition and how they feed and exercise their dog. In the second part of this post, we will provide tips to help you make sure that your dog achieves and maintains a healthy weight.
Last week we wrapped up the winter edition of K9Kamp. You may remember we had a great giveaway and we are happy to announce the winner of the prize package is Kelly T. Congratulations Kelly – we will be contacting you to get your mailing info so we can send your prizes!
Please enjoy our FitDog Friday Blog Hop brought to you by SlimDoggy and our co-hosts Peggy’s Pet Place and To Dog With Love. Join the Hop or just enjoy the links below – lots of fun fitness tips and advice!