Pets come in all shapes and sizes, but sometimes sizes get a little out of hand. That’s why on October 9 we recognize National Pet Obesity Awareness Day to remind people to keep their pets healthy. When your pooch starts getting a little plump, you know it’s time for a few things . More walks, less table scraps, and perhaps even an additional visit to the vet to make sure they’re still healthy. While a rotund Rover can be a cute or funny sight, that extra layer for lovin’ can have some serious consequences. Thanks to National Pet Obesity Day, we can now all learn more about this problem among our beloved pets.
History of National Pet Obesity Awareness Day
While humans have domesticated animals for hundreds of years, only most recently have we seen such an exponential increase of plus-sized pets. While it’s hard to say no to those precious faces when it comes to food, it’s important to practice discipline for the safety and well-being of our beloved companions. It starts with recognizing there is a problem. Pet owners think their obese dog or cat is a normal weight, making confronting obesity difficult. No one wants to think their pet is overweight, and overcoming denial is our first battle. Currently more than half of all domestic dogs and cats are clinically overweight, which is to say their body condition score is above a four. That amounts to nearly 49 million dogs and more than 50 million cats who are a bit portlier than their peers. This can lead to serious health issues for these animals including diabetes, arthritis, decreased life expectancy, high blood pressure and cancer. Not only will it be hard for your pet, but it will be hard for you to watch, not to mention these conditions can quickly become very costly. The good news is that pet obesity can be easily prevented by taking a few cautionary steps, thanks to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP).
National Pet Obesity Awareness Day timeline
The Guinness World Records stopped awarding records to the heaviest pets to avoid pet owners from overfeeding.
APOP conducts its first survey, finds pet obesity is on the rise
Pet obesity labeled and epidemic, with pets getting bigger than ever
The world's fattest dog, a Dachshund named Obie that weighed 77 lbs, lost an entire 50 pounds.
Survey finds that pet owners think differently about pet diets than veterinarians.
National Pet Obesity Awareness Day FAQs
Why is pet obesity a problem?
Pet obesity can lead to serious health issues for these animals including diabetes, arthritis, decreased life expectancy, high blood pressure and cancer.
What percent of pets are overweight?
The majority of cats and dogs in the United States are overweight or obese – 59.5 percent of cats and 55.8 percent of dogs.
What causes dog obesity?
Dog obesity is most commonly caused by an imbalance between the energy intake and usage — in other words, the dog eats more calories than they can burn. Obesity also becomes more common in old age because of the normal decrease in a dog’s ability to exercise, due to arthritis and/or other conditions.
How to Observe National Pet Obesity Awareness Day
Identify if your pet needs help
There are several ways to find out for certain if you need to put your pet on a restrictive diet. One of the easiest is to consult the resources offered by APOP, which include easy to use at-home body condition tests. Sometimes, we may not even be aware when our pets become overweight, so it’s important to know at what point it becomes a medical problem.
Take part in the survey
Every year, APOP conducts a survey on National Pet Obesity Awareness Day, which helps collect data from around the country. This information is then used to create a snapshot of the state of pet obesity, and help put together a plan to tackle it. By taking part in the survey, you’re doing your part to help take on this challenging issue.
Take your dog for a walk or to the dog park
If you’ve been neglecting getting your dog out of the house, make today the day to go for a walk around the neighborhood. Give it freedom to romp and sniff, and run if given the opportunity. Or even better, head to the local dog park, where it can socialize with other dogs and run off-leash for great, sustained exercise.
5 PET WEIGHT FACTS
No Crackers for Polly
Obesity is the number one health problem in pet birds. Most birds have food available all the time, so they don't have to work for their dinner
The thick check
To check if your pet is obese or overweight, you should be able to easily feel your pet's ribs without pressing on the pet and your pet’s stomach should be tucked in.
The five US states that rank highest for obese dogs are: Minnesota, Nebraska, Michigan, Idaho and Nevada.
Pet weight is different
Pet weight is harder to lose: one pound lost in a canine is the equivalent to five human pounds – that means that each pound lost will be gradual and significant.
Two dog breeds that are considered high-risk for obesity are Labradors and Golden Retrievers.
Why National Pet Obesity Awareness Day is Important
Obesity is a growing risk
For years APOP has been conducting surveys to determine the state of health our pets are in, and unfortunately, it has determined that our pet obesity problem is only getting worse. In 2013, cats were heavier than ever, and the rate of overweight cats and dogs has grown slightly over the years. That’s why it’s so important to raise awareness of how to keep our pets slim and spry.
Obesity causes serious health issues
Obesity in pets means more than just lazy animals. APOP data show obesity leads to reduced life expectancy, diminished quality of life, chronic inflammation, orthopedic disease, kidney dysfunction, respiratory disorders, cancer, and more. To give our pets the best life possible, we have to help them avoid packing a few extra pounds.
It spreads knowledge
Thanks to making it a national holiday, pet owners are now armed with the tools and information they need to keep their dog or cat healthy. APOP offers several resources, including at-home body condition tests, questions to ask the vet, pet caloric needs, ideal weight ranges, and more. By spreading this information, APOP hopes to significantly reduce the number of obese pets in the near future.
National Pet Obesity Awareness Day dates