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National Pet Obesity Awareness Day

Today is National Pet Obesity Awareness Day, and should be a very important day in every pet owners life.

According to the latest veterinary survey 54% of this nations pets are overweight and pet owners are in denial.

The fifth annual veterinary survey conducted by The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found that 53% of adult dogs and 55% of cats are classified as overweight or obese by their veterinarian.

Fat pets are now considered the “new normal” which is downright sad in my book.

Working in the veterinarian world these stats do not surprise me. I would have to say that 80% of the pets I see on a daily basis are overweight and at least half of them are considered obese. On the off chance that we do see a pet that is at it’s ideal weight the owners are usually concerned because people have told them that their pet looks too skinny when in actuality their pet is at it’s ideal weight.

Most of society does not know what a healthy weight pet should look like.

Here’s a hint: Your pet should not look like a  stuffed sausage.

We as a pet society have no idea what the ideal weight of our pet should be. A little bit of extra chubby is o.k. because it means they are healthy and well taken of.

Not true.

Not true at all.

A fat cat or dog is not funny or cute.

A fat pet is not healthy and will almost always lead to serious health issues down the road such as joint issues, heart related issues, kidney disease, and type 2 diabetes just to name a few.

“Pet obesity is a people problem not a pet problem.”

Which is why I am very conscious of my dog’s weight.

Below are a few ways that I try and keep my dog’s at their ideal weight.

1. Weight checks.  I take my dogs in for a weight check every 2-3 months to make sure they are not tipping the scale. In this picture Sherman weighed 134 pounds which is his average/ideal weight. Last year he tipped the scale at 140 pounds and I knew I had to get a few extra pounds off of him.

2. I know my dogs ideal weight.

3. I feed my dogs a quality food.

4. I measure my dogs food with a measuring cup. I don’t guess or estimate.

5. I know how many calories my dog needs and I know how many calories are in their food. Their daily calorie intake should include their dog food and their treats.

6. I adjust their food accordingly. If they are up a few pounds then their calories get cut. Sometimes I will decrease their food a bit and add in fillers like frozen green beans. They love the crunch of frozen green beans!

7. I monitor treat consumption. Yes they get treats and sometimes they are not healthy treats, but this is given in moderation.

8. I always have my hands on my dogs to see if I can feel their ribs. Their fur is deceiving and makes them look heavy but as long as I can feel their ribs without having to dig I know they are good.

9. Daily exercise. This should go without saying.

10. Communicating with my vet. I ask my vet about their body condition every time she sees them and she knows that keeping them at a healthy weight is very important to me. She knows that if she tells me that they are overweight I am going to take that seriously and do something about it.

So tell me, how important is keeping your pet at a healthy weight and keep them from becoming just another overweight pet statistic?

Some interesting facts from the latest survey that may surprise you:

  • 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
      • 53% adult dogs classified as overweight or obese
      • 24.4 million dogs or 31.2% reported as overweight
      • 16.7 million dogs or 21.4% reported obese
  • 47.3 million cats classified as overweight or obese
    • 55% adult cats classified as overweight or obese
    • 25.8 million cats or 29.9% reported as overweight
    • 21.5 million cats or 24.9% reported obese
    • 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.  “The fact that few pet owners admit their pet is obese leads to a lack of interest in helping their pet lose weight. They know it’s a problem, just not for their pet. Unfortunately, the data doesn’t agree. Chances are their pet is overweight if not obese.” Dr. Ernie Ward
  • 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

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Friday 12th of October 2012

Buster and Ty are pretty close to their ideal weights, but it's a challenge. Ty would weigh 400 pounds if we'd let him eat as much as he wants to! I keep telling him that it's better for his health, but he doesn't seem convinced.

Jana Rade

Thursday 11th of October 2012

Sadly, most people don't want to hear this. I can't even get through to our own daughter. She's just beefy, she insists about her Chi who is wider than longer. Then comes the list of excuses ...

The Chi consistently steals bigger dogs' food, who are free fed. It's not even food = love deal, it's just a) we don't want to change how we feed the big dogs b) she steals it from them, there is nothing we can do about it c) she is not THAT fat (yes, she is!)

If, for a minute, they realized the health consequences across the board, maybe it would change their minds. But, unfortunately, hearing isn't always believing.


Thursday 11th of October 2012

I hear you loud and clear! My parents have a cat that is obese and even with me lecturing the all the time about it they just don't want to make any adjustments. I offer suggestions and they tune me out:(

My sister however had 2 very overweight beagles and over the last year has managed to slim them down to the point that they look and feel like totally different dogs. It was tough but she did it and now her dogs are benefiting from it!

Karen Friesecke

Thursday 11th of October 2012

Yeah. I should pass this post onto my Mom. She's a food = love owner and she really *loves* her dogs :(


Thursday 11th of October 2012

So many people are this way, and what stinks is that they are set in their ways about the subject. Even telling them that they may be killing their pet by overfeeding them doesn't register. it's a sign of love when they are well taken of when they are overweight:(

That’s Damn Interesting! Lovely Links 10-11-2012 | The Doggie Stylish Blog

Thursday 11th of October 2012

[...] Yesterday was National Pet Obesity Awareness Day. Here are some tips to keep your pet at an optimal weight. [...]


Thursday 11th of October 2012

I am so happy that you posted about this. We are in that small percentage who everyone informs that their dogs are "too skinny". But, we know how 1 lb of extra weight can stress their joints and lead to arthritis etc. Our vet is *very* picky about their weights, and informs us if they are even a pound or two over. I have to admit that I am confused by how so many dogs end up so fat... they can't open the fridge, so controlling their weights shouldn't be that hard... Thanks again for a great post.

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