Well, the numbers are in for 2016 and the pet obesity epidemic shows no signs of abating. The pet obesity survey, conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention back in October 2016, has concluded that 54% of all dogs and 59% of all cats are overweight or obese. These numbers are at all time highs and translate to approximately 42 million dogs and 51 million cats.
The survey also shed light on the fact that pet owners don’t truly understand the nutritional needs of their cats and dogs. The following questions were posed to both pet owners and veterinarians and there were significant differences between what each group believed was healthy for their furry friends.
|Question||Pet Owners (Yes)||Veterinarians (Yes)|
|Do you think corn is healthy for dogs?||6%||48%|
|Do you think low- or no-grain diets are healthier for dogs?||61%||25%|
|Do you think organic pet foods are healthier?||43%||23%|
|Do you think raw diets are healthier for pets?||35%||15%|
What’s the Problem?
So, what’s going on here? Pet humanization is at an all-time high. Recent studies are showing that owners consider their pets to be part of the family. It would be logical to think that if pet owners consider their cats and dogs to be family members, then pet health numbers would indicate less obesity and more healthy pets. Instead, the opposite is true. Pet obesity is the main reason why chronic disease in pets is on the rise. More cats and dogs are experiencing diabetes, kidney disease, arthritis, and cancer. Overweight pets are at high risk of contracting these diseases at a young age resulting in years of additional medical expenses including the high cost of medications to treat these conditions.
Pet owners (like everyone else) are typically out of the home most of the day. These people then compensate by overfeeding their pets. Many simply leave an unlimited supply of food for their pets in bowls throughout the home. Others are just not keeping track of the amount of calories that their pets are consuming. Busy lives also leave little time for researching and adhering to proper nutrition (demonstrated in the survey by the results related to owner knowledge on pet nutrition).
Ending the Pet Obesity Cycle
While we’d like to solve the ‘busy life’ problem, we know that pet owners will continue to spend much of the day out of the home. Sites like petobesityprevention.org can help owners gain the knowledge they need to keep their pets healthy, but knowledge alone won’t solve the problem. We’ve got to make it easier for pet owners to provide their pets with proper nutrition and the right amount of calories.
Upcoming Pet Tech companies like PetTrax have come along to fill this gap. PetTrax is coming out with a connected intelligent pet feeder that will keep your cats and dogs on a proper diet and alert you to health conditions including overfeeding. The feeder will work in both single and multi-pet households and will keep you informed and connected to your pets whether at home or work.
We know that you want the best for your pets so please use resources like the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, PetTrax, and your veterinarian for help. Your pets depend on you to keep them healthy and happy.