Blog
Our latest news

2016 U.S. Pet Obesity Statistics

U.S. Pets Get Fatter, Owners Disagree with Veterinarians on Nutritional Issues

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention Reports Record Number of Overweight Pets in U.S. in 2016, Pet Owners Disagree with Veterinarians on Key Pet Food Issues

Pet obesity in the U.S. continued to steadily increase in 2016, affecting nearly 59% of cats and 54% of dogs, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). During the ninth annual survey, APOP also found pet owners and veterinary professionals disagreed on key pet food issues such as the benefits of corn and grains, value of raw and organic diets, and the best sources of pet nutritional advice.

“Obesity continues to be the greatest health threat to dogs and cats.” states APOP Founder, veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward. “Obesity is a disease that kills millions of pets prematurely, creates immeasurable pain and suffering, and costs pet owners tens of millions of dollars in avoidable medical costs.”

 

In the October 2016 clinical survey, 53.9% of dogs and 58.9% of cats were classified as overweight (body condition score (BCS) 4) or obese (BCS 5) by their veterinary healthcare professional. That equals an estimated 41.9 million dogs and 50.5 million cats are too heavy, based on 2016 pet population projections provided by the American Pet Products Association (APPA). In 2015, APOP found 53.8% of dogs and 58.2% were overweight or obese.

2016 U.S. Pet Obesity Infographic

Pet owners and veterinary professionals were questioned about pet obesity, diet and nutrition, and sources of pet food advice. When asked to classify their own pet’s weight, 81% of pet owners and 87% of veterinary professionals reported they were a normal and healthy weight. 98% of veterinary clinic staff agreed that pet obesity was a problem in the U.S., compared to about 87% of pet owners. Nearly all pet owners and veterinary professionals (greater than 95%) believed an overweight pet is at increased risk of pain and suffering and that quality nutrition can extend life expectancy.

Quality was the primary influence when purchasing pet food by over 80% of pet owners and 82% of veterinary staff. Price (16%) or location and convenience (7%) were not reported as significant factors for either group when choosing food for their dog or cat. Both pet owners and veterinary professionals (55%) said they worried about the quality of their pet’s food affecting the long-term health of their dog or cat.

54% of U.S. Dogs and 59% of Cats Overweight

Pet owners and veterinary professionals disagreed on whether their veterinarian discussed their pet’s ideal weight. Over 93% of pet owners stated they visited their veterinarian within the past year, yet only 49% reported their vet discussed their pet’s ideal weight, while over 60% of veterinary professionals claimed they did. Less than 4% of pet owners stated they felt guilty or uncomfortable when their veterinarian talked about their pet’s weight with them.

Only 42% of pet owners agreed their veterinarian should recommend a maintenance diet, compared to over 64% of veterinarians. Only 39% of pet owners recalled their veterinary clinic recommended a maintenance diet, while about 48% of veterinary professionals stated they offered routine diet recommendations.

When asked where they obtained the best sources of dietary recommendations for their pet, over 46% of pet owners rated online advice as the best method, compared to 19% of veterinary professionals.

Pet owners and veterinary professionals were sharply divided on pet food ingredients and types of dog and cat diets.

  • Do you think low- or no-grain diets are healthier for dogs?
    • – 61% pet owners and 25% veterinary professionals agreed with this statement
  • Do you think raw diets are healthier for dogs and cats?
    • – 35% pet owners and 15% veterinary professionals agreed
  • Do you think organic pet foods are healthier?
    • – 43% pet owners and 23% veterinary professionals agreed
  • Do you think corn is healthy for dogs?
    • – 73% of pet owners disagreed while 48% veterinary professionals agreed

 

About the Research

The annual obesity prevalence survey is conducted by APOP. Veterinary practices assessed the body condition scores of every dog and cat patient they saw for a regular wellness exam on a given day in October. Body condition scores based on a five-point scale and actual weight were used in classifying pets as either underweight, thin, ideal, overweight or obese. The 2016 survey included the assessment of 1,224 dogs and 682 cats by 187 veterinary clinics.

Dogs (n=1,224)
Body condition score (1 to 5)
1          (6)       0.5%
2          (17)     1.4%
3          (542)   44.3%
4          (417)   34.1%
5          (242)   19.8%

Cats (n=682)
Body condition score (1 to 5)
1          (7)       1%
2          (21)     3.1%
3          (252)   37%
4          (191)   28%
5          (211)   30.9%

The online questionnaire was completed by 1,172 pet owners and 445 veterinary professionals from October 12 to December 31, 2016.

About the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP)

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2005 by Dr. Ernie Ward with the primary mission of documenting pet obesity levels in the United States to raise awareness of the issue and its negative impact on pets. The APOP Board of Directors is made up of veterinary practitioners, nutritionists, surgeons, and internal medicine specialists. APOP conducts annual research to substantiate pet obesity prevalence levels in the United States and offers resources and tools to veterinarians and pet owners to better equip them to recognize and fight pet obesity. More information about APOP can be found on their website www.PetObesityPrevention.org.

APOP Press Release 2016 Survey

2016 National Pet Obesity Awareness Day

On Wednesday, October 12, 2016, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention will conduct our Tenth Annual Pet Obesity Awareness Day survey.

Veterinary Healthcare Providers

Fellow veterinary clinics, we need your help. On October 12 (or during the month of October) we are asking you to record simple information for each pet that you perform a routine examination on that day. How many pets and the detail of information you obtain is up to you. More is better but our goal is to determine as accurately as possible the number of pets in the United States that are overweight or obese. Our past experience demonstrates that this should add no more than 1-2 minutes to your normal physical examination routine.

iPad Mini Giveaway: For every clinic that submits a minimum of 20 accepted study pets, you will receive an entry into a drawing for a FREE iPad Mini!

Pet Owners

Sign up to receive a short questionnaire to be completed during October.  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DBVCKZH For every completed survey, you will be entered into a drawing for a FREE copy of Dr. Ernie Ward‘s book on pet obesity, nutrition, and home-prepared meals, “Chow Hounds.”

If you are interested, simply complete the form and we will contact you with handouts and instructions to complete the study. This study is independent of any and all corporate sponsorships or involvements. It is important that this study remain neutral to protect the integrity and interpretation of results. If you have any suggestions, questions, or concerns feel free to contact me directly: DrErnieWard@gmail.com.

Please help us in our fight against obesity.

Veterinary Clinics: iPad Mini Giveaway – For every clinic that submits a minimum of 20 accepted study pets, you will receive an entry into a drawing for a FREE iPad Mini! Each set of 20 completed adult pets earns another drawing entry!

Pet Owners: Book Giveaway – Sign up to receive a short questionnaire to be completed during October. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DBVCKZH For every completed survey, you will be entered into a drawing for a FREE copy of Dr. Ernie Ward‘s book on pet obesity, nutrition, and home-prepared meals, “Chow Hounds.”

If you are interested, simply complete the form and we will contact you with handouts and instructions to complete the study. This study is independent of any and all corporate sponsorships or involvements. It is important that this study remain neutral to protect the integrity and interpretation of results. If you have any suggestions, questions, or concerns feel free to contact me directly: DrErnieWard@PetObesityPrevention.org or 910-849-1295.

Join the 2016 Study

Veterinary Clinic Sign Up













Pet Owner Sign Up




Study Instructions and Data Collection Sheet

pdf

2016 Pet Obesity Survey Instructions

2016 Pet Obesity Survey Data Sheet

 

 

US Pet Obesity Grows in 2015; Veterinarians Call for Standardization of Obesity Scale

2015surveyresults2015 Nationwide Survey Confirms Continued Rise of Obese Pets, Sparking the Need for Industry Change

Calabash, N.C.—March 15, 2016—Pet obesity continues to be a growing problem, affecting the majority of US dogs and cats. Research conducted in 2015 by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) found that approximately 58 percent of cats and 54 percent of dogs were overweight or obese. Veterinarians are alarmed by the steady increase in pets classified as clinically obese. They are calling upon the veterinary industry to clearly define and classify pet obesity as a disease and adopt a universal Body Condition Score (BCS) scale for assessing pet obesity.

“The American Medical Association (AMA) recognized obesity as a disease in 2013. I think the time has come for the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) to follow suit,” stresses Dr. Ernie Ward of Ocean Isle, North Carolina, founder of APOP. “By defining obesity as a disease, many veterinarians will take the condition more seriously and be compelled to act rather than ignore this serious health threat.”

APOP also points out a lack of consensus surrounding the definition of obesity. The organization defines clinical pet obesity as 30 percent above ideal weight, but that definition varies among veterinary practitioners, industry stakeholders and pet owners. “Our profession hasn’t agreed on what separates ‘obese’ from ‘overweight,’” University of Georgia veterinary surgeon and APOP Board member Dr. Steve Budsberg states, “These words have significant clinical meaning and affect treatment recommendations.”

The lack of professional consensus in defining pet obesity has created confusion among industry leaders. This confusion can lead to underreporting and a decreased emphasis on the pet obesity issue by the veterinary industry and clients. A uniform definition of pet obesity would benefit veterinarians who are struggling to find a tactful and effective way to discuss obesity and the importance of weight loss. It will also create an increase in awareness and discussion around the issue for both veterinarians and pet owners.

Due to these growing problems, Dr. Ward challenges the veterinary profession to standardize medical terminology and tools for obesity. “APOP is committed to uniting veterinarians with a single set of pet obesity definitions and tools. We are working toward a common professional standard Body Condition Score (BCS) with European colleagues and universal definitions for overweight and obese.”

“There are currently three major BCS scales used worldwide,” emphasizes University of Minnesota veterinary nutritionist and APOP Board member, Dr. Julie Churchill. “We need a single standard to ensure all veterinary health care team members are on the same page.” Multiple methods for assessing and classifying an animal’s body condition creates considerable confusion and requires additional clarification for veterinary professionals to distinguish how they are assessing a pet’s body condition.

APOP is pushing for the adoption of a universal BCS—a whole-integer, one-through-nine (1–9) scale. This scale will allow veterinarians to more consistently interpret veterinary medical research, accurately assess their patients’ body conditions and clearly communicate with colleagues and clients.

Excess weight can reduce pet life expectancy and negatively impact quality of life. “The reality is, obesity kills,” comments Dr. Joe Barges, Academic Director for Cornell University Veterinary Specialists and APOP Board member. “Numerous studies have linked obesity with type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, many forms of cancer and decreased life expectancy. Our survey validates the notion that we’re seeing more obese pets with more potential medical problems.”

APOP has joined forces with other international industry organizations to form The Global Pet Obesity Initiative. The group’s goal is to create obesity standards and provide training for the veterinary community. Leaders look forward to collaborating with other organizations, universities, researchers and industry leaders to develop additional efforts and tools to combat pet obesity as a disease. They also plan to develop a certifying procedure for veterinarians and veterinary technicians who successfully complete additional training programs.

To learn more about the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention or the 2015 study, visit PetObesityPrevention.org.

About the Research
The annual obesity prevalence survey is conducted by APOP. Veterinary practices assessed the body condition scores of every dog and cat patient they saw for a regular wellness exam on a given day in October. Body condition scores based on a five-point scale and actual weight were used in classifying pets as either underweight, ideal, overweight or obese. The latest survey included the assessment of 1,224 dogs and cats by 136 veterinary clinics.

About the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP)
The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention was founded in 2005 by Dr. Ernie Ward with the primary mission of documenting pet obesity levels in the United States to raise awareness of the issue and its negative impact on pets. The APOP board is made up of veterinary practitioners, nutritionists, surgeons and internal medicine specialists. APOP conducts annual research to substantiate pet obesity prevalence levels in the United States and offers resources for veterinarians and pet owners to better equip them to recognize and fight pet obesity. More information about APOP can be found on their website, petobesityprevention.org and Facebook page, Facebook.com/PetObesityPrevention.

###

U.S. Pet Population Gets Fatter; Owners Fail to Recognize Obesity.

New Research from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention Shows a Rise of Obese Pets in 2014

March 26, 2015, Calabash, N.C.—The majority of the nation’s dogs and cats continue to be overweight, and most pet owners aren’t aware of the problem, according to new research from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). The eighth annual National Pet Obesity Prevalence Survey conducted by APOP found 58% of U.S. cats and 53% of dogs were overweight in 2014.<!–more–> The study also found a significant “fat pet gap,” in which 90% of owners of overweight cats and 95% of owners of overweight dogs incorrectly identified their pet as a normal weight.

“The ‘fat pet gap’ continues to challenge pet owners and veterinarians,” said Dr. Ernie Ward, veterinarian and founder of APOP. “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.”

The researched showed an increase specifically in the obese category. In 2013, 16.7% of dogs and 27.4% of cats were classified as clinically obese (greater than 30% normal or ideal body weight). In 2014, 17.6% of dogs, and 28.1% of cats were reported obese. This shift toward increasingly obese pets has specialists worried.

Dr. Steve Budsberg, veterinary orthopedic specialist and Director of Clinical Research for the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia, agrees. “The sad truth is that most people can’t identify an obese dog or cat. Whenever their veterinarian tells them their pet needs to lose weight, they often can’t believe it because they don’t see it.”

“We’re seeing an increasing number of obese pets and the diseases that accompany excess fat,” reports Dr. Julie Churchill, veterinary nutritionist at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. “Type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, and many forms of cancer are associated with obesity in animals. It is critical pet owners understand an overweight dog or cat is not a healthy pet.”

Ward stated that obesity is the number one health threat pets face, and the most important pet health decision owners make each day is what and how much they feed. According to Ward, pet owners know being overweight is unhealthy; they just don’t know their own pet is too heavy. APOP’s goal is to educate pet owners and help veterinarians address the “fat pet gap” with their clients’ owners. By raising awareness, APOP aims to decrease the levels of pet obesity in the U.S. and help pet owners make the most informed choices possible for their pet.

To learn more about the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention or the 2014 study, visit www.petobesityprevention.org.

 

About APOP

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) is made up of dedicated veterinarians and veterinary healthcare personnel who are committed to making the lives of dogs, cats, all other animals and people healthier and more vital. APOP was founded in 2005 by veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward, a competitive Ironman triathlete, certified personal trainer, and accredited USA Triathlon coach. A key component of APOP’s mission is to develop and promote parallel weight loss programs designed to help pet owners lose weight alongside their pets. www.petobesityprevention.org.

2014 Pet Obesity Statistics

fatabyssynian

In 2014, an estimated 52.7% of US dogs were overweight or obese. An estimated 57.9% of US cats were overweight or obese. View the results of the most recent National Pet Obesity Awareness Day Survey.

2015 National Pet Obesity Awareness Day

On Wednesday, October 12, 2016, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention will conduct our Tenth Annual National Pet Obesity Awareness Day Survey.

In order to do this, we need your help. On October 12, we are asking you to record simple information for each pet that you perform a routine examination on that day. How many pets and the detail of information you obtain is up to you. Continue reading “2015 National Pet Obesity Awareness Day” »

Pet Obesity Remains at Epidemic Levels According to New Research

Obesity Plagues Pets, Industry Being Challenged to Effect Change

CALABASH, N.C., MARCH 31, 2014—Most of the nation’s pets are overweight, and a majority of their owners are blind to the issue. New research, released by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), tells an alarming story. Veterinarians who assessed pets for the recent study recognized that more than half are overweight or obese. Cats carry the largest share of the obesity burden with 57.6 percent of the population recorded as overweight or obese. The dog population is close behind, with 52.6 percent of canines being classified as weighing too much.

“Among all diseases that perplex the veterinary community and plague our population of pets, obesity has the greatest collective negative impact on pet health, and yet it is almost completely avoidable,” said Dr. Ernie Ward, veterinarian and founder of APOP. “The pet industry is mighty and well-meaning, but it’s time we stop accepting the status quo. We must start working together to fight obesity through knowledge and action.”

Abundant Health Risks

Obesity by itself is classified as a disease, but the health conditions associated with obesity reveal the heart of the epidemic’s impact on pets and their owners. Osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, joint injury, various forms of cancer and decreased life expectancy are all linked to obesity in pets. “The body of evidence indicating that obesity causes costly and painful conditions is clear,” according to Dr. Joe Bartges, a veterinary nutritionist and internist who serves on the APOP board and as Small Animal Clinical Sciences department head at University of Tennessee Knoxville’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “Without the obesity risk factor in place, the likelihood of pets getting many serious diseases is inarguably reduced.”

The Fat Gap

Pet owners who agreed to have their pets assessed for the study were first asked to classify their pets’ weight. Among all pets that veterinarians ultimately classified as obese, a whopping 93 percent of dog owners and 88 percent of cat owners initially thought their pet was in the normal weight range. APOP refers to this disparity as the “fat gap.”

“The fat gap is rampant and we believe it’s the primary factor in the pet obesity epidemic,” said Bartges. Primary knowledge gaps also include the basics of how much food pets should get daily. “There’s an entire nation of pet owners who are loving their pets to death with too many calories and not enough exercise. They are in the dark that their pets are overweight and that a host of diseases can arise as a result,” Bartges said.

Awareness at Core of Problem

Since the fat gap has been around for years, a new online poll of U.S. pet owners conducted by APOP sought to better understand the dynamics of pet obesity. The survey indicated that 42 percent of dog and cat owners admitted they don’t know what a healthy weight for their pets looks like.

While most owners of overweight pets either don’t realize or can’t tell that their pet is obese, the pet owner poll indicated one ultimate obesity risk that resonates. Seventy-two percent of owners believe that obesity causes a decreased lifespan in pets. “There have been many news headlines about obesity causing grave diseases and conditions in humans, and I believe most pet owners are aware of this, so they associate the same risks with their pets,” Bartges said. “But until more pet owners recognize that their pet is in the obesity danger zone, we can’t expect them to make changes.”

Call for Action

This year, APOP will lead the creation of an industry coalition to amplify the organization’s impact. The APOP coalition will invite partnerships with organizations that share the common goal of fighting obesity and supporting pets and their owners to create the healthiest household possible. Through the strength of the coalition, APOP will better continue its mission of raising awareness of pet obesity and fighting the epidemic through the power of knowledge and actionable tools.

About the Research

The annual obesity prevalence survey is conducted by APOP. Veterinary practices that participated assessed the body condition scores of every dog and cat patient they saw for a regular wellness exam on a given day in October. Body condition scores based on a five-point scale and actual weight were used in classifying pets as either underweight, ideal, overweight or obese. The latest survey included the assessment of 1,421 dogs and cats. The supplementary online pet owner study was conducted by Trone Brand Energy in December 2013 and included 590 U.S. pet owners.

About APOP

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention was founded in 2005 by Dr. Ernie Ward with the primary mission of documenting pet obesity levels in the United States to raise awareness of the issue and its negative impact on pets. The APOP board is made up of veterinary nutritionists and internal medicine specialists. The Association conducts annual research to substantiate pet obesity prevalence levels in the United States and offers resources and tools to veterinarians and pet owners to better equip them to recognize and fight pet obesity. APOP will announce an industry alliance in 2014 with the goal of increasing the organization’s effectiveness.

2012 National Pet Obesity Survey Results

Pet Obesity Rates Rise, Cats Heavier Than Ever

Fifty-five Percent of U.S. Dogs and Cats Overweight in Latest Veterinary Survey

 

Calabash, N.C., March 12, 2013 – U.S. pet obesity rates continued to increase in 2012 with the number of overweight cats reaching an all-time high. The sixth annual National Pet Obesity Awareness Day Survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) found 52.5 percent of dogs and 58.3 percent of cats to be overweight or obese by their veterinarian. That equals approximately 80 million U.S. dogs and cats at increased risk for weight-related disorders such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, hypertension and many cancers.

52.5% of US Dogs Overweight or Obese or approximately 36.7 million

58.3% of US Cats Overweight or Obese or approximately 43.2 million

Screen Shot 2013-03-12 at 8.39.50 AM“Pet obesity remains the leading health threat to our nation’s pets.” states APOP’s founder and lead veterinarian for the survey Dr. Ernie Ward. “We continue to see an escalation in the number of overweight cats and an explosion in the number of type 2 diabetes cases.”

New York-based veterinary endocrinologist and APOP board member Dr. Mark Peterson agrees. “The soaring rate of feline and canine obesity is taking a terrible toll on our animals’ health. There is a vast population of overweight cats and dogs facing an epidemic of diabetes. The best preventive measure a pet owner can make is to keep their dog or cat at a healthy weight. Diabetes is far easier to prevent than treat, especially when twice daily insulin injections are needed.”

Veterinary nutritionist and internal medicine specialist at the University of Tennessee’s College of Veterinary Medicine Dr. Joe Bartges cautions that many pet owners don’t recognize when their pet is overweight. “In this survey, approximately 45 percent of cat and dog owners assessed their pet as having a normal body weight when the veterinarian assessed the pet to be overweight.” Dr. Ward calls the phenomenon of incorrectly evaluating an overweight pet as normal “the fat gap.” “The disconnect between reality and what a pet parent thinks is obese makes having a conversation with their veterinarian more challenging. Many pet owners are shocked when their veterinarian informs them their pet needs to lose weight. They just don’t see it.”

Certain breeds showed greater risk for excess weight. Veterinary healthcare providers classified 58.9 percent of Labrador retrievers and 62.7 percent of golden retrievers surveyed as overweight or obese. Surgical specialist Dr. Steve Budsberg of the University of Georgia is particularly concerned about the development of weight-related musculoskeletal conditions. “Once again, our data shows that obesity is rampant and we are certainly setting up more and more dogs and cats for joint problems during their lives. This results in hundreds of millions of dollars in medical bills and countless surgical procedures for weight-related conditions. As a veterinary surgeon I find this extremely frustrating; this disease is easily treatable and even simpler to prevent. Feed your pet less, exercise them more and see your veterinarian at least once a year.”

Dr. Ward also sees a clear connection between pet and childhood obesity rates. “The causes of pet and childhood obesity are largely the same: too many high-calorie foods and snacks combined with too little physical activity. Parents need to encourage children to put down their video games and pick up the dog leash to go for a walk. Instead of snacking on sugary treats, share crunchy vegetables with your dog. Eat more whole foods instead of highly processed fast food.”

“This is a war veterinarians, pet owners and parents must win. Obesity is the number one preventable medical condition seen in veterinary hospitals today and is the fastest growing health threat of our nation’s children. Our goal is to help pets and people live longer, healthier, and pain-free lives by maintaining a healthy weight, proper nutrition, and physical activity. The most important decision a pet owner makes each day is what they choose to feed their pet. Choose wisely. Your pet’s life depends on it.”

Dr. Ernie Ward, founder of Association for Pet Obesity Prevention

  • The 2012 survey, conducted in October and December 2012, analyzed data from 121 veterinary clinics in 36 states
  • 1,485 dogs and 450 cats were assessed
  • Cats: 4.4% male, 49.6% male neutered, 6.2% female, 39.8% female spayed
  • Dogs: 8.4% male, 39.1% male neutered, 6.0% female, 46.5% female spayed
  • Median age of surveyed pets: Dogs – 6 years of age, Cats – 6 years of age
  • Dogs and cats were classified by veterinary clinics as: BCS 1 – Underweight, BCS 2 – Thin but normal, BCS 3 – Ideal weight, BCS 4 – Overweight, BCS 5 – Obese
  • Based on 2012 survey results and 2012 American Veterinary Medical Association data 80 million U.S. dogs and cats are overweight or obese.
  • Based on 2012 survey results and 2012 American Veterinary Medical Association data
    • An estimated 43.2 million cats or 58.3% are overweight or obese (74.1 million U.S. pet cats, 2012 AVMA)
      • 29.3 million cats BCS 4 – Overweight
      • 13.9 million cats BCS 5 – Obese
    • An estimated 36.7 million dogs or 52.5% are overweight or obese (70 million U.S. pet dogs, 2012 AVMA)
      • 25.7 million dogs BCS 4 – Overweight
      • 11 million dogs BCS 5 – Obese
  • Labrador retrievers were the most common pure breed in the study (141/1485, 9.5% total surveyed)
    • 58.9% were classified as overweight or obese
      • 42.6% – Overweight
      • 16.3% – Obese
  • German shepherds had the lowest reported pure breed Obesity (BCS 5) rate of 2.1%
  • 45.8% of dog owners incorrectly identified their overweight or obese dogs as “normal weight” when asked by their veterinary clinic to assess their pet’s current body condition (pet owner’s choices were too thin, normal, overweight, obese)
  • 45.3% of cat owners incorrectly identified their overweight or obese cats as “normal weight” when asked by their veterinary clinic to assess their pet’s current body condition (pet owner’s choices were too thin, normal, overweight, obese)

2012_APOP

 

 

 

 

 

 

APOP_2012

 

 

 

 

CONTACT:

Ernie Ward, DVM, CVFT

DrErnieWard@gmail.com

910-620-1295 / 910-579-5550

Mark Peterson, DVM, Dip. ACVIM

drpeterson@animalendocrine.com

212-362-2650

Kibble Crack – Vet Exposes Sugary Secret of Pet Treats

Dr Ernie Ward exposes sugar in pet treats

Dr. Ernie Ward exposes sugar in pet treats

Click here for pdf of press release: Kibble Crack – Vet Exposes Sugary Secret of Pet Treats

(Calabash, NC – June 17, 2010)

Sugar is being added to many pet treats contributing to the growing pet obesity epidemic.

Today’s pet treats aren’t the dog bones of your childhood. Over the past decade, a surprising ingredient has begun to appear on pet treat ingredient lists: sugar.

Following the trend of sugar-laden children’s snacks, pet treat manufacturers are tapping into a dog’s sweet tooth to boost sales. “One of the key reasons I became involved with fighting pet obesity was when I began seeing sugar added to pet treats. I think if  more pet owners were aware of this, they may choose their treats more carefully.” says veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward, founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) and author of “Chow Hounds: Why Our Dogs Are Getting Fatter – A Vet’s Plan to Save Their Lives” (2010 HCI). “When you have popular treats such as Snausages SnawSomes that list sugars as three of the first four ingredients, you know there’s a problem.”

And the problem is huge. APOP estimates that 45% of US dogs and 58% of cats are too heavy. That equals an estimated 89 million pets that are at high risk for developing conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure and more.

Ward says the problem is linked to money – lots of it. With US pet treat sales estimated to be nearly $2 billion in 2010, the treat bowl has turned golden. “Sugar is incredibly attractive to dogs. If a dog gobbles a treat quickly, an owner is more likely to give another – and another.  This adds up to more sales – and profits. In the race for pet treat profits, our pets’ health is being bankrupted.”

Ward also contends that added sugar has behavioral consequences. “Numerous studies in rats demonstrate that overfeeding sugar can create symptoms similar to drug addiction. A dog’s daily sweet treat may be contributing to overeating and other undesirable behaviors. This is why I call today’s high-sugar treats ‘kibble crack.’”

Dr. Ernie Ward battles Pet Obesity

Sugar is being added to pet treats

Of course, pet treat manufacturers are quick to blame pet owners for the problem. After all, dogs and cats don’t buy or give these products themselves. Ward agrees – to a point. “Pet owners definitely have a feeding disorder when it comes to their pets. Ultimately it’s up to each owner to control how much they feed their pets. What I want to bring attention to is what ingredients are in pet treats – and why. Pet owners must begin to question why there is sugar in a treat that claims to help teeth.”

Ultimately both the pet food industry and Ward have pet’s best interest at heart. “Today we have some of the best pet foods and treats we’ve ever had. For that, I am grateful. At the same time, we’re seeing some of the unhealthiest products masquerading as wholesome and nutritious. It’s time we reveal the sugary secret that is contributing to obesity in pets.”

Dr. Ward’s Dirty Dozen – Popular Sugary Pet Treats

Pet Treat Added Sugar
Canine CarryOuts Chew-lotta Dextrose first ingredient
Snausages SnawSomes! Beef and Chicken Flavor Sugars 3 of first 4 ingredients
Pedigree Jumbone Mini Snack Food for Small Dogs Sugars 2 of 3 first ingredient
Petrodex Dental Treats for Cats Dextrose second ingredient
Pedigree Jumbone Sugar third ingredient
Milk Bone Essentials Plus Oral Care Sugar third ingredient
Pup-Peroni Lean Beef Recipe Sugar third ingredient
Science Diet Simple Essentials Treats Training Adult Treats with Real Beef Sugar third ingredient
Cesar Softies Dog Treats Sugar third ingredient
Milk-Bone Chewy Chicken Drumsticks Sugar third ingredient
Meow Mix Moist Cat Treats Corn syrup fourth ingredient
Pedigree Marrobone Sugar third ingredient

Other common sugar-containing treats according to Dr. Ernie Ward:

  • Pedigree Jumbone – Sugar third ingredient
  • Beneful Snackin’ Slices – Sugar fourth ingredient
  • Pit’r Pat Fresh Breath Mint Flavored Cat Treats – Maltodextrin first ingredient
  • Three Dog Bakery Lick ‘n Crunch – Dextrose third ingredient
  • Beneful Snackin Slices – Sugar fourth ingredient
  • Busy Chewnola – Maltodextrin second ingredient
  • Exclusively Dog Vanilla Flavor Sandwich Creme Dog Cookies – Sugars first two ingredients
  • Canine Carryouts Dog Treats – Corn syrup second ingredient

For more information, visit www.PetObesityPrevention.com or www.DrErnieWard.com .

Click here for pdf of press release: Kibble Crack – Vet Exposes Sugary Secret of Pet Treats

Additional images for download:

Dr Ernie Ward Sugar Pet Treats