Ask yourself honestly if your pets are obese. How can you tell? Generally speaking, for most breeds of dogs, if you can feel ribs well enough to count them with your fingers but not see them from across the room, that is a good sign. Rolls of fat above the base of the tail and thick layer of fat over the ribs is a sign of obesity. Dogs should have a “waistline” from an aerial view, and from a side view, a “tuck” of the abdomen in front of the hind legs. Cats are a little harder to tell, but generally should also have a small waistline. Don’t worry about the swinging flap (or “udder” as I like to call it), as this is not full of fat (or milk), and occurs in males as well as females, neutered, or not.
54% of Nation’s Pets Overweight According to Latest Veterinary Survey; Pet Owners in Denial
The “fat pet gap” continues to widen according to the latest nationwide survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). The fifth annual veterinary survey found 53 percent of adult dogs and 55 percent of cats to be classified as overweight or obese by their veterinarian. That equals 88.4 million pets that are too heavy according to veterinarians.
In a recent study, 22 percent of dog owners and 15 percent of cat owners characterized their pet as normal weight when it was actually overweight or obese. (Dr. Ernie Ward, http://www.petobesityprevention.com/big-pets-get-bigger-latest-survey-shows-dog-and-cat-obesity-epidemic-expanding/) This is concerning, because it means these pets have a TREATABLE disease that owners are not even aware of! The first step, as in many arenas of life, is realizing that you have a problem. Of course your best resource is always your veterinarian. If you are lucky enough to patronize a vet hospital with great nurses, you may even be able to arrange a cheaper/free consult with a Certified Veterinary Technician to assess your pet’s Body Condition Score, which is a very important part of your pet’s regular check up. Ask your vet at each visit how he or she feels about your pet’s weight, and what you can to help prevent or treat obesity.
So usually Body Condition Score is defined as a somewhat objective scale to measure an animal’s weight as proportionate to overall size. Here is a link to photos so you can score your pet at home: http://vet.osu.edu/vmc/body-condition-scoring-chart . Why should you care about your pet’s weight? Isn’t food equivalent to love? There are many health conditions whose risk increases with obesity, such as arthritis, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, early death, and asthma. If you can prevent these conditions, plus possibly give your pet an extra 2 years to live healthier, and it costs less, and in fact saves you money, why wouldn’t you feed a little less?
Here are some more interesting statistics regarding pet obesity: The survey the data was taken from was conducted at 41 US veterinary clinics and evaluated 459 dogs and 177 cats in October 2011. Veterinarians and veterinary technicians evaluated each pet to assess current weight, medical conditions, owner assessment of weight and body condition score. Over the five years studied, these results have proven to be consistent and increasing at a gradual pace.
According to APOP’s survey results based on pet statistics from the American Pet Products Association, the following are estimated numbers of overweight and obese pets in 2011.
41.1 million dogs classified as overweight or obese (BCS 4 or 5 *** OUT OF MAX SCORE OF 5)
53% adult dogs classified as overweight or obese (BCS 4 or 5)
24.4 million dogs or 31.2% reported as overweight (BCS 4)
16.7 million dogs or 21.4% reported obese (BCS 5)
47.3 million cats classified as overweight or obese (BCS 4 or 5)
55% adult cats classified as overweight or obese (BCS 4 or 5)
25.8 million cats or 29.9% reported as overweight (BCS 4)
21.5 million cats or 24.9% reported obese (BCS 5)
Only 8% of dog owners and 9% of cat owners classified their pet as obese in the online study. That’s less than half the actual figures determined by survey veterinarians. Average age of the cats in the study was 6.7 years and 6.4 years for dogs.
When it came to deciding which pet food to feed, 69.4% trusted their veterinarian, 36.3% a website, 20.6% a pet store, 4.4% a breeder, and 1.3% their groomer.
According to Dr. Ernie Ward, a 95-pound male Golden retriever is comparable to a 5’4” human female weighing 184 pounds or a 5’9” male that weighs 214 pounds.
A 10-pound Chihuahua is comparable to a 5’4” human female weighing 242 pounds or a 5’9” male that weighs 282 pounds.
A 15-pound domestic short-haired cat is comparable to a 5’4” human female weighing 218 pounds or a 5’9” male that weighs 254 pounds.
A premium pig ear (231 kcals) fed to a 40-pound dog is the equivalent of an adult human drinking six 12-ounce Coke Classics™ (840 kcals).
A typical dog biscuit (25 to 27 kcals) fed to a 20-pound dog is the equivalent of an average adult human eating two Keebler EL Fudge Double Stuffed Sandwich Cookies (180 kcals).
More weight and treat calculators can be found at www.PetObesityPrevention.org.