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May 25, 2019

More than half of American pets are fat, new study reveals

March 13, 2019
This plump Beagle is far from alone — more than half of American pets are too chunky, according to a new survey from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. (iStockphoto)

Fat cats and plump pups are the norm.

More than half of American pets are too chunky, according to a new survey out Tuesday from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.

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About 59.5% of cats and 55.8% of dogs are classified as overweight or obese, according to the APOP study. The survey also found that pet owners and veterinarian staff were confused by conflicting pet nutritional advice and have trouble helping pets get down to ideal weights.

“Veterinarians need to offer more obesity treatment options than: Feed less and exercise more,” APOP president Dr. Ernie Ward said in a statement. “The majority of pet owners are overwhelmed with pet food choices and conflicting dietary advice and desperately want help and nutritional recommendations from veterinarians.”

For the survey conducted this past October, pet owners and vet professionals were asked about pet obesity, diet and nutrition and pet weight loss.

About a quarter of cats, 25.7%, and 36.9% of dogs were classified as overweight, while 33.8% of cats and 18.9% of dogs were found to be obese by their vet.

That means that about 56 million cats and 50 million dogs are considered overweight or obese based on 2018 pet population projections from the American Pet Products Association.

When those taking the survey were asked what weight loss method was most effective, 38% reported calorie reduction as “very effective” and 33% ranked it as “somewhat effective”; 36% said increased exercise was “very effective” and 30% reporting it was “somewhat effective”; and only 9% said that low-calorie or low-fat diets were “very effective” while 23% stated it was “somewhat effective.”

When pet owners were asked if they’d like a vet to recommend a routine diet for their animal, 68% responded yes. But only 38% of pet owners said that their veterinarian had recommended a regular diet plan for their furry friends during the previous year.

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