Pet obesity has become a major problem for pets and their health. Obesity in pets as in humans can be traced to many of the health issues that are commonly seen by vet techs and veterinarians in clinics.
The responsibility of stemming the decay of pet health lies in the hands of the owners and their support team with whom they consult.
Obesity in pets can also often be traced back to imbalances in hormones, as repercussions from disease, and other elements that stretch beyond the food bowl. This fact makes it necessary for pet owners to work closely with their veterinarian to maintain the total health of their pet.
The Numbers Don’t Lie
The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) has discovered this disturbing trend in recent surveys. Their studies indicate that over 88 million pets are above the recommended weight for their size and breed. This means that half of all cats and dogs are at risk for the complications that come with obesity.
The most disturbing aspect of the information, however, is that the vast majority of owners were not aware that their pet was overweight. Accepting obesity as the “standard” weight has real long-term health consequences for the furry members of our families.
- An Estimated 54% of Dogs and Cats in the United States are Overweight or Obese
- An Estimated 93 million US Dogs and Cats are Overweight or Obese
- An Estimated 21% of US Dogs and Cats are Obese
- An Estimated 36 million US Pets are Obese
- An Estimated 55.6% of US Dogs are Overweight or Obese (BCS 4-5)
- An Estimated 20% of US Dogs are Obese (BCS 5)
- 43 million US Dogs are estimated to be Overweight or Obese
- 16 million US Dogs are estimated to be Obese
- An Estimated 54% of US Cats are Overweight or Obese (BCS 4-5)
- An Estimated 22% of US Cats are Obese (BCS 5)
- 50 million US Cats are estimated to be Overweight or Obese
- 20 million US Cats are estimated to be Obese
2010 Data from APOP
Rising Risk Levels
The trend is on the rise.
Comparisons from studies done only years earlier reveal a 4% increase in cats and a 2% increase in the number of obese dogs in only two years. This figure puts our pets closer and closer to the red zone for weight-related diseases and disorders as each year passes. There are multiple diseases that come with obesity which can significantly shorten the lifespan of our pets.
The most common of these complications include kidney disease, breathing problems, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and osteoarthritis. Battling these types of diseases begins with clear and direct communication between the pet owner and the veterinarian. Ensuring that your pet maintains a healthy weight should be one of the primary issues that is discussed with the vet during every visit.
The Finger Points at Us
Veterinarians agree that the primary problem which is allowing obesity in pets to thrive begins and ends with their owners. Responsible feeding practices, regular exercise, and annual visits with the veterinarian and with the help of veterinary technician are all required to get the problem under control. The problem has many facets to be addressed.
Obesity is tied to more than the accumulation of adipose tissue. Gaining and losing weight causes hormonal and metabolic changes in animals. Changes such as these are the first indicators that there is a problem related to obesity.
Understanding how your pet’s system functions and relying on the expertise of the vet will allow pet owners to recognize and treat problems before they become serious, life-threatening conditions.
The Treat As Foe
A major foe in this battle is the annual “treat.” In addition to a healthy diet, pet owners tend to feed their animals treats which are high in fatty content and other elements that are not likely to be present in their regular diet. Occasionally providing these treats tends not to pose a problem.
However, studies have found that pet owners will give their pets treats up to three and four times a day. Providing this kind of food in these amounts contributes significantly to their daily calorie intake.
Veterinarians recommend substituting these less healthy treats with fresh foods that are free of additives and potentially harmful ingredients when eaten in excess. These types of treats can include fresh broccoli, string beans, baby carrots, or small portions of extremely lean meats such as fish.
A Group Effort The Includes Vet Techs
The APOP has developed many programs and gone to great lengths to create advertising meant to get this kind of information into the public arena. They have also cited that controlling the obesity of one’s pet provides the perfect opportunity to lose weight as a pet owner. Parallel weight-loss programs have been shown to be highly effective and popular as well.
The experts all agree that preventing obesity is far easier than treating it. Some of the associated risks such as diabetes may be reversible. However, more serious complications can permanently damage the quality of life that your pet experiences. Being a loving pet owner entails that you be a responsible pet owner.
If you’re interested in pet nutrition, look at the veterinary technician specialty in nutrition.