Friday, January 9, 2009

Alarm going off: Overweight and obesity 2008: A problem for 48% of our pets !!!

Sometimes I cannot help it but I feel like I am over doing things. Maybe I am talking too much about the same issues over and over again. Because I believe it is important that I talk about the issues which I am addressing. If that means to repeat myself over and over again, so be it. Maybe this way sooner or later at least some pet owners get the message and make appropriate changes for a better health of their pets.
Like for example, let talk “Our pets and obesity”. Since I started this blog back in I wrote 2 dedicated comments on this topic. (Actually that’s not as bad as I thought it would be and now I think it’s not enough).
Obesity: How much to feed a pet and Are we feeding our pets to death?
If one runs a search for “obesity” on this blog, the results return 14 articles in one way or the other addressing the topic of obesity. That’s 10% of all the comments I wrote since I started this blog back at the end of August last year. And again, I think now, that this is possibly not enough. Reason for that is that I found today an article published on 01/07/09 by, written by Lea Terry and titled “Study estimates that 78 million cats and dogs are overweight or obese
Did I read this right? 78 Million??? The info what I had and based my writings on was always based on a number of 54 million. That would make it 40% of the entire US pet population of about 135 million cats and dogs. If it is indeed 78 million, what could be the case because maybe my stats were a little older, then that would translate into a whopping 58% of the pet population. Now, you know me this substantial difference in numbers bothered me. So I visited the website of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), as the name suggests an organization dedicated to obese pets. There it is even somewhat more confusing, mainly because there is talk about the 78 million overweight and obese pets and a certain national study at the same time. The study was performed by some vets and conducted on a small number of cats and dogs, apparently representative enough to come up with a statistical conclusion. I kept digging further into the site and finally found what I was looking for: The most up-to-date numbers are:
US Pet population 2007: 75 million dogs and 88 million cats for a total of 163 million pets.
According to APOP, the 2008 figures are:
An estimated 48% or 78 million of all pets in the United States are overweight or obese and an estimated 15% or 25 million of those are obese.
An estimated 43% or 32 million of all dogs in the United States are overweight or obese and an estimated 10% or 8 million of those are obese.
An estimated 53% or 46 million of all dogs in the United States are overweight or obese and an estimated 19% or 17 million of those are obese.
To put things in perspective: US Human population (US Census Bureau 2006): 300 Million. 60 Million or 30% of all Americans age 20 and older are obese.
It really does not matter one way or the other, either one number is simply scary enough to me. This and the fact that these numbers are clearly showing an increase over the 2007 stats clearly indicates that we have a serious problem on hand here. And if we don’t fix it, it just may grow out of control. According to Lea Terry in her article, “obesity in humans in America is considered to be epidemic.” And she notes that now, because of the numbers, the problem with pets seems to get the same level of attention. I would say it’s about time. To me those numbers are even scarier than the stats for humans.
Let’s take a step back. What is obesity? As obesity is considered when your pet exceeds its ideal body weight by 15 or more percent. In addition, the problem is that overweight and obesity unfortunately link to many other health problems as well. Recent weight management studies concluded that compared with cats of optimal weight, overweight cats are more than twice as likely to develop skin conditions, 4 times as likely to develop diabetes and finally 5 times as likely to develop lameness, all conditions requiring veterinarian treatment. Overweight leaves pets at a greater risk than ever before for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, many forms of cancer, especially intra abdominal cancer, osteoarthritis and potentially a shorter life expectancy. That’s what I say. But if you don’t want to take my word for it, here is what APOP says: “Common Health Risks of Obesity in Pets: Osteoarthritis, Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease, Hypertension (high blood pressure) and many forms of cancer.”
Coming back to my introduction, I think you agree with me now, it is an important issue and we cannot over emphasize on the importance that it has to be addressed when we deal with our pets. It is simply not healthy and much can be done by us, the responsible pet owners. As Lea states in her article’s conclusion: “The dog cannot speak for himself. We have to be able to read the animal.” And deal with any problem there may already be or better yet, make sure there is not even going to be a problem. So be prepared for much more on this topic to come on this blog. You know me by now and it is needless to say that much of it will be centered around the right and healthy nutrition. Let’s face it, that’s where it starts and let’s attack the problem at its roots. And as always, I invite you to comment on the topic, tell us about your experiences, the ways you figured out how to deal with it once it occurred or how you prevent it.

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