What if Every Dog Ran: Costs of Having a Fat Dog

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I recently wrote about the Mizuno sponsored study entitled “What if Everybody Ran”, which calculated the benefits of what would happen if everyone in the United States ran and was fit. The study is eye opening as it calculated numerical estimates, across the entire U.S. population, of the associated health and financial benefits of having a fit nation.


Taking a page from the Mizuno report, I have done some calculations on my own to demonstrate the key benefits of having a fit dog.  Although not as large as the Mizuno study on humans (mostly due to the fact that there are fewer dogs than humans and their life spans and overall healthcare cost are less than humans), these numbers are still extraordinary and are worth reviewing.


If all dogs were fit, through running or other exercises combined with proper portion control and quality food choices:

  • The existing dogs in the U.S. would live a combined 87 million extra years due to the fact that fit dogs live longer than overweight dogs. For reference, 87 million years ago the earth was in its Cretaceous era and dinosaurs still ruled the land.
  • The cost savings in reduced annual medical costs for the most common obesity related ailments would be near $5 billion annually and over $30 billion over the life of the pets. For reference, a stack of 30 billion, single dollar bills would reach 2,100 miles high, the approximate driving distance from New York, New York to Phoenix, Arizona.
  • Pet owners who are overfeeding their pets and spending an extra $130 million more on pet food than they actually need. For reference, a 130 million miles is about the combined distance between Earth and each of the planets Mercury, Venus, and Mars.
  • There would be 78,000 less dogs in shelters and 24,000 less euthanized dogs each year (24k saved lives each year!), and the total annual cost savings would be $23 million. For reference, that would be 24 thousand lives saved each year.
  • There would be 29 million households with over 76 million people in the U.S. that would be happier and more likely to be fitter and healthier (and with all of the associated benefits as reported in the Mizuno research). For reference, a country with 76 million people would be the 19th largest country in the world.


These are pretty incredible numbers. And they are not by any means all-encompassing but rather simply indications of the costs of some of the more obvious issues related to pet obesity. If you are wondering about how I came up with these figures, I will publish the methodologies and sources behind these calculations in an upcoming post and infographic.


In the meantime, please help spread the word and share this post with other pet lovers. We have lives to spare, lives to extend, and money to save!

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  1. Hi Y’all!

    Not everyone can run, but everyone can keep fit. Love your ideas on fitness.

    Y’all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…Parading My Beautiful WorldMy Profile

  2. I agree with you, its something what we can avoid, without spending money, we only need some time to be active together with our furkids. I remember that we paid 140 euros per month for the diuretic pills and the heart pills… and after we managed the weight problem, she was like a “new” dog :o)
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog THIS MOMENT…My Profile

  3. We always think about the additional health costs for overweight dogs, but forgot about the additional costs of the extra foods and treats, good point. Katie and I are happy to be just walking but Bailie and Mom love their runs together. Having longer legs she is more suited to running than I am anyway.
    Emma recently posted…Our Evening RoutineMy Profile

  4. This was a interesting cool post. The dog food company’s would be very upset if people started getting their dogs fit as they wouldn’t have to spend as much money on food BUT that is such a GOOD thing!
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Thursday Barks And Bytes~Catch UpMy Profile

  5. The worst part is that the vast majority of people with fat dogs are in total denial of the problem. They are unable to see that their dog is fat. Plus dogs are VERY good at begging and pretending to be SO hungry. Lots of folks just can’t resist those eyes. It’s often about love, but in a misdirected way.
    Taryn recently posted…Keeping My Reputation ConsistentMy Profile

  6. Mizuno should do a follow-up report called “What if Everybody Had Good Knees”. Ha, ha. I miss running so much. I can’t walk enough time during a day to equal the amount of calories burned in a 1 hour run. Gretel loves to run too so I secretly thinks she misses it). Even if you cant run though, it’s important to get your body moving every day.
    Jessica recently posted…UT Vet School Helps Paralyzed Dachshund Walk AgainMy Profile

  7. Unfortunately I can’t run at the moment as my knees are shot but Kilo and are are getting plenty of walking and he races in the house fetching toys. So important to keep him fit and healthy, and for me to get back to being fit and strong. Some very compelling research there. Thanks Susie

  8. Well, I don’t run, but I do jog, and make sure my huskies get plenty of other exercise as well.
    Great post.
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Husky puppy – Before and afterMy Profile

  9. We do more of a jog since mom is afraid if we all run that we’d take her for a ride! BOL! Great tips!
    Miley’s Daily Scoop recently posted…Three Spoiled Dogs and One ChairMy Profile

  10. That’s so true!
    Misaki recently posted…Windy trip to the beachMy Profile

  11. What’s funny is that I don’t care about extending my own life by staying fit, but when the vet tells me Mia will live longer if she loses weight, I listen!
    Kari recently posted…Things that go blink in the nightMy Profile

  12. That’s a great way to look those numbers. So much money to save… not to mention a longer, healthier life!
    Diane recently posted…Happy Times and Prize Winners at #MyHappyDog Twitter PartyMy Profile

  13. Wow, some of these numbers blew me away. I don’t run but I have been biking lately and Petal runs (or jogs) alongside it. We both really enjoy that.

    This was very interesting, thanks for sharing!
    Marquie recently posted…FitDog Friday – Bike RideMy Profile

  14. Such good points! I think most people can run at least a little bit or at least head out for a long walk. And that would benefit our dogs so, so much if they got to tag along. I will say for sure that my dog will never be overweight because we head out for our exercise together every single day. And thankfully, he also does not have any health issues that may cause weight gain.
    Lindsay recently posted…How shelters and rescues failed when I adopted my first dogMy Profile

  15. Interesting statistics; however, I don’t understand how being fit and the number for the shelter pets correlate. Maybe it is too early for my brain or vacation drain…lol.
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…Wordless Wednesday–Tree MazeMy Profile

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