National Pet Obesity Awareness Day

This Wednesday, October 14, 2009, will mark the third annual National Pet Obesity Awareness Day.

The founder and President of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), Dr. Ernie Ward, states that more than half of all pets livening in the USA are overweight.

“Pudgy pooches and fat cats are now the norm. This is the first generation of pets that will not live as long as their parents. Even worse, the majority of today’s overweight pets will endure painful and expensive medical conditions, all of which can be avoided.”

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention was founded in 2005 by veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward, with their mission being to ‘develop and promote parallel weight loss programs designed to help pet owners lose weight alongside their pets.’

Even though APOP has promoted campaigns alongside veterinary schools and the veterinary medical community at large, as well as both local and state veterinary organizations and various media outlets, the association is not in any way affiliated with any veterinary business or organization. This neutrality, APOP believes, helps them to make unbiased information available to both veterinarians and the public.

Dr. Ward and APOP hope to raise awareness of the plight of plump pups and chubby kitties through the National Pet Obesity Awareness campaign.

Wednesday Duties

On Wednesday, veterinarians across the nation will collect data regarding the measurements of their animal clients’ waist sizes. Pet owners are being urged to do the same by downloading a questionnaire from the association’s website and sending it in with information on their pet’s weight and overall size.

The goal for the day is to obtain pet obesity data rates in real time. In order to do this pet parents are being asked to record specific information for each of their pets. In an attempt to discover a more exact and up-to-date obesity rate figure, pet parents are asked to download a record online in which they can then enter their pets’ measurements and weights.

Student American Veterinary Medical Association

However, even though APOP is not associated with any veterinary organization or business, they have elected to partner with the Student American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA):

“This year APOP has partnered with the Student American Veterinary Medical Association to heighten the discussion of pet obesity at the nation’s veterinary medical schools. Too often veterinarians aren’t taught how to prevent obesity, only to treat the consequences,” noted Dr. Ward.

“We’re excited to be working with APOP on this year’s Student AVMA’s One Health Challenge theme of Obesity Awareness, both for pets and people. This is a serious issue and veterinary and human medical school students need, and want, to know more than just ‘go on a diet’,” explains Ryan Colburn, the Student AVMA Global and Public Health Officer, ad hoc, of Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

The Statistics

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that nearly 50%, or 84 million, of all dogs and cats in the USA are either overweight or are obese. From this number dogs who are overweight or obese account for 44%, or 33 million, whilst overweight or obese cats account for nearly 57%, or 51 million.

In regards to these astonishing figures, Dr. Ward has stated:

“This epidemic is needlessly costing pet owners tens of millions of dollars in unnecessary medical bills, not to mention the crippling arthritis, challenges of diabetes, and increased risk of cancer these pets endure. We are loving our pets to an early, and painful, death.”

Dr. Ward believes that one of the main reasons why cats and dogs in the USA are so overweight is due to:

“Carbs. Today’s pets consume high carbohydrate and sugar treats and foods that create changes in their brain chemistry, causing them to crave these foods even more. I call it ‘kibble crack’ because we are literally creating an addiction to these high-calorie carbohydrate foods,” says Ward.

As with humans, the best way for pets to lose the extra pounds is by eating healthier and exercising more.

“Everyone wants a magic pill for losing weight when the safest, cheapest and easiest cure already exists: eat less, eat healthier and exercise. Put down the biscuit and pick up a carrot; instead of feeding your cat a carbohydrate-based diet, look for a high-protein alternative. Take your dog for a walk each day. Small steps go a long way toward big weight losses.”

Health Risks associated with Obesity in Pets

1. Osteoarthritis
2. High blood pressure
3. Type 2 diabetes (cats)
4. Insulin resistance (dogs)
5. Kidney disease
6. Cancer
7. High cholesterol
8. Respiratory disease
9. Skin disease
10. Increased surgical complications

Photo Credit: sundaykofax

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